Dr. Ken, Season 2, Episode 1: “Allison’s Career Move”
Original airdate September 23, 2016.
What seems to be the problem?
Big changes in season 2:
I’m disappointed, but that Welltopia staff, as much as I like it, felt crowded last season, and I complained multiple times that there wasn’t enough story to go around for everyone. If I were cynical, I’d say of course they got rid of Julie because they weren’t going to lose the black woman or the gay man, but personality-wise, she is the easiest character to lift out, especially with another woman doctor joining the staff.
Allison’s moving to Welltopia also makes it easier to write stories that don’t feel so compartmentalized. I complained last season that we weren’t getting enough of Allison the doctor, and this adjustment will fix that immediately. Next week’s episode is titled “Ken and Allison Share a Patient,” so already we’re seeing some good ideas in this area.
I’m not as thrilled about D.K. moving in, a decision that may have something to do with Allison going to Welltopia. It creates a new dynamic at home for Molly and Dave, but they did that a couple of times last season, and I wasn’t fond of the story ideas, as when D.K. challenges Dave to get into shape.
I have an appointment at 8:30.
I welcome Ken Park and his family back for their second season. Dr. Ken‘s inaugural season was all over the place, but a strong cast and likeable characters, not to mention the R word for an Asian family in network prime time, had me rooting hard on its behalf for another shot. The show had problems, but they were fixable problems, mostly with the writing. Episodes went too easily to zaniness and obvious jokes, but when the writers allowed the comedy to emerge from truthful, believable moments, it had a cast who could stick the landing.
In this episode, Ken is a much better anchor than he was through most of last season. That SAT story with Molly is believable as heck, and when Ken tells his daughter that he’s been there, that’s believable too, and Ken handles it with a gentle aplomb that’s half unexpected. Molly’s worry is understandable, but so is Ken’s compassion, and their scene together in the kitchen is a nice reminder that Molly’s third-generation Asian American experience is different from Ken’s second-generation experience, the kind of thing Dr. Ken handles deftly when it takes the opportunity. Krista Marie Yu’s delivery of the line, “Everything’s always come so easy for me. What if it doesn’t anymore?” is perfect, a small heartbreaking moment a lot of Mollys can relate to. I was so intimidated by the SAT, despite years of practicing for it, that I waited until March of my senior year to take it, long past the application deadlines for all the schools on my bedroom’s College Wall.
Cleared for physical activity.
Parts of this episode feel like that first day of all your college classes, where you get a syllabus and an explanation of the course, but no meaningful content. Yet other parts go right to some nice relationship stuff, the stuff that Dr. Ken does well when it doesn’t take any shortcuts. I’m encouraged by believable plot elements that make the show’s characteristic silliness (Pat’s coffee grinder; Allison’s “Never apologize for candy on a sandwich”) feel more like an accessory, rather than the primary costume. Because there’s a lot here to be encouraged by, I’m giving it a half-point bump: four tongue-depressors out of five.
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I caught this Nature’s Bounty television commercial for fish oil while watching I think CNN on a Saturday morning.
I like how this 0:15 second commercial shows the woman’s future self accelerated over time an rewinds back. My mother has taken fish oil in the past, but I’ve always wondered (like vitamins), how much of difference it can make to take such supplements. A quick reading on WebMD:
“Fish oil is FDA approved to lower triglycerides levels, but it is also used for many other conditions. It is most often used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. Some people use fish oil to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Fish oil has also been used for preventing heart disease or stroke, as well as forclogged arteries, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, bypass surgery, heart failure, rapid heartbeat, preventing blood clots, and high blood pressure after a heart transplant.”
Besides the above stated benefits, WebMD goes on to list other health benefits of fish oil.
While looking for this commercial online, I also did come across the 0:30 second version of the ad, which has kind of a funny, but non sequitur moment, where the future older woman tells her younger self –
“Don’t marry Dan,” who turns out to be a creepy white guy. I wonder if this version of the ad airs!
Peter Ho Davies’ latest novel The Fortunes traverses 150 years of Chinese American history through the stories of four characters. Beginning with Ah Ling, biracial servant to railroad baron Charles Crocker in the late nineteenth century, the book moves on to Anna May Wong in the 1930s, then to a friend of Vincent Chin who was murdered in Detroit in 1982, and lastly to a biracial father about to adopt a daughter from China. These four Chinese Americans’ stories are captured in novella-like sections, a broad interpretation of a multi-generational story. Davies neither glamorizes nor castigates any of these historical moments or figures, but rather seeks to complicate his characters. In the process he exposes interracial tensions, commenting on how they fit into society at large, but also personal identity crises and a robust look at what it means to be Chinese American and part (or apart) of a Chinese community.
I’ve blogged about my friend Dr. Sophia Yen in the past. She’s probably the most politically active person I know (and her brother served in Iraq and her mother Sandy Yen was in the Taiwan legislature.)
But by day, she’s not only a doctor but also recently launched her start-up, Pandia Health – “The easiest way to get birth control.” I caught up with her recently to learn more about her startup and her motivations.
John: Today we’re talking with Dr. Sophia Yen, a physician with a passion for making women’s lives better with improved access to birth control and prescription acne medications via her startup PandiaHealth.com
Dr. Yen: Thank you for having me on 8Asians.com! I love sharing my birth control knowledge with people to help prevent unplanned pregnancies.
As Asian Americans, I think many of us have gone under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” regimen about our birth control with our parents. I’m here and happy to answer anyone’s questions about birth control, sexually-transmitted infections, and acne. I hope our generation can be more open with our children.
Why did you start PandiaHealth.com?
One of the top 3 reasons that women don’t take their birth control is because they don’t have it on hand. My friend Perla Ni and I thought, “That is so easy to solve. We will just ship women birth control and keep shipping it until they tell us to stop. No one runs out of birth control on our watch.”
What makes your company different?
No other company in this space is founded and led by: Asian American women, Women of color, a currently-practicing reproductive health doctor, or a pharmacist. As women, we understand the pain of having to go to the pharmacy every month to get your birth control. We have personally felt “pill anxiety” – the fear of running out of your medications and the stress of having to get to the pharmacy during business hours to get your birth control.
We are the one-stop shop for your birth control needs (and soon to be acne medication needs). If you have a prescription, then you sign up with PandiaHealth.com and we will start shipping you your birth control for free, 3 months supply at a time (insurance-willing) with automatic refills. If you need a doctor consult for a prescription (your prescription expired or your provider doesn’t have a visit available before your prescription runs out and won’t renew your prescription), you fill out a 10-15 minute questionnaire and if there are no medical contraindications, our partner doctors will write a prescription for $39 MD consultation fee. Then we can deliver you the medication.
Is birth control free?
Yup! Free in that there are no copays and no deductibles thanks to the Affordable Care Act (with a few exceptions for religious employers and few others). However, if you insist on a specific brand-name versus generic medication, you will have to pay the difference in cost for that brand name. And now with Pandia Health, you can get your medications delivered to your mailbox.
If you have any problems getting your birth control without a copay/deductible, you can contact http://coverher.org a project of the National Women’s Law Center and they will fight for you.
I heard that you don’t need a prescription for birth control anymore in CA/Oregon/Washington?
In CA/OR/WA, you can now get birth control directly from the pharmacist but this has to be done IN PERSON at the pharmacy and they are charging at least a $25 fee in Oregon and more in CA. Our service is from the comfort and privacy of your home (or wherever you happen to be with your phone/computer) and can be done at any hour rather than only when the pharmacy is open. In addition, you’ll be working with a physician who specializes in birth control.
What is your number 1 birth control tip?
Know about Emergency Contraception (EC). For any heterosexual male having sex or any female of reproductive age (regardless of her orientation), have some Emergency Contraception in case your condom pops or you are sexually assaulted. All forms of EC can be used up to 5 days after an incident. However, in general, the sooner you use them, the more likely they will prevent pregnancy. Think of them as a fire extinguisher – you should already have one at your home instead of buying one when a fire has already started.
The most effective form of EC is the copper IUD. The copper IUD can be inserted and left in the uterus to serve as long term birth control for up to 10 years.
The 2nd most effective EC is ulipristal acetate (aka Ella). It is only available by prescription but because it is by prescription – it should be available for “free” (no co-pay, no deductible) under the Affordable Care Act. Ask your doctor to prescribe you 30 mg of ulipristal acetate for you to take in case of emergencies.
The 3rd most effective EC is levonorgestrel 1.5 mg. Most people know this as “Plan B” or the “morning after pill.” You can buy this EC at your local pharmacy. I recommend asking for a GENERIC Plan B or generic emergency contraception because Plan B often costs $60+ because it is “name brand” and the generic can cost $20-$30 depending on what the pharmacy wants to charge.
Ulipristal acetate beats levonorgestrel in efficacy at every time point and especially on days 3-5 after an incident and in heavier women. In fact, if your body mass index (BMI) is more than 26, you should not use the levonorgestrel (over the counter) emergency contraception, because it will not work.
Any other reproductive health tips?
Periods are optional. The only reason we build the lining of the uterus is to prepare for an embryo. If you aren’t ready to have a baby, then why bother building that lining? Don’t waste the energy and blood every month building and shedding and increasing your risk of endometrial (uterine lining) cancer and ovarian cancer (from popping out eggs when you aren’t going to use them). A great reference article is John Rock’s Error by Malcolm Gladwell. Look for a future blogpost on the topic by me here.
Always use a condom – assume everyone has an STI (sexually transmitted infection). The #1 STI is HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and there is no commercially available widely used test for it in men. There are 160 strains of HPV and the vaccine only covers 9 of them. However, definitely get the vaccine because it covers 90% of cervical cancer and 90% of warts and prevents some esophageal and oral cancers. If you want to hear me discuss HPV and the vaccine you can listen here: http://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2014/08/04/cdc-hpv-vaccine-rates-for-teens-unacceptably-low/
Sophia Yen, MD MPH graduated MIT, UCSF Medical School, Children’s Hospital Oakland’s pediatric residency, UCSF Adolescent Medicine Fellowship, UC Berkeley with an MPH in Maternal and Child Health and is a clinical Associate Professor at Stanford School of Medicine. Her goal in life is prevent all unplanned pregnancies by providing access to birth control and comprehensive sexuality education and motivating young adolescent women to focus on their future rather than getting pregnant.
Personally, I have voted in every election I recall since graduating from college in the 1990s. I did also vote in college, though it was a bigger challenge since I did study in a different state than where I was registered to vote. Now I am a permanent absentee ballot voter.
I’ve often blogged that it bothers me to no end that eligible Asian Americans are the least to register to vote (50.7%) compared to any demographic group, at least in California.
The term “Asian American” talks about the interaction of two sets of ideas, customs, and traditions, Asian and American. To me, one of the most fascinating instances of this are when two ordinarily distinct notions of Asian and American get mashed up together into something unique, like spam musubi or Korean Taco trucks. Food isn’t the only area where happens – KQED published this story about how an Indian American musician blends Chicago style Blues with Bollywood. Aki Kumar, who came to Silicon Valley to make his fortune as a software engineer, developed a love for the Blues, and began applying that style to the classic Bollywood songs of his youth.
As Congresswoman Judy Chu had mentioned on Day 1 at the AAPI Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) would be represented and speaking on the Convention stage at the convention, which Chu is the chairwoman. This is the first time CAPAC was ever represented on stage at a Democratic Convention (I don’t think there are any Republican members of the House or Senate that are Asian American). The above video is the official video taken and hosted on the Democratic National Convention YouTube page.
I definitely wanted to be at the Wells Fargo Center to witness this historic occasion and traded my daily press pass for a temporary press pass that allowed me to go into the convention floor for an hour to catch this historic moment.
The introductory video highlighted the history of Asian Americans in the U.S., including dark periods such as the era of the Chinese Exclusion Acts as well as the internment of Japanese during World War II and the death of Vincent Chin to today, where more and more Asian Americans are represented in Congress. Then a good number of Congressmen, Congresswomen and Senator Hirono made some brief comments, including why they supported Hillary Clinton for President.
Below is the video and photos I took from the convention floor in a press area:
Author of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Who We Be, Jeff Chang’s latest book We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation is an incisive series of essays looking at race in America. Drawing on recent events, including Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and #oscarssowhite, Chang outlines a contemporary crisis around issues of race, division, and a repeating cycle that needs to be halt. We Gon’ Be Alright is, at its heart, a call to action. But it is also a call for thoughtfulness and an understanding of how we got to where we are. If Who We Be took that history and went deep into it, this latest series of essays takes the current moment and draws it out to explain where we are, the conversations we are having, and the ones we should be having.
Aubergine, a new play written by Julia Cho, opens today at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Running through October 2, it’s an emotional story about family, death, and food. Ray’s father is home on hospice with his son Ray, a first-generation Korean American chef, who is struggling with how to manage and how to cope. To notify his father’s brother, he calls on his ex-girlfriend Cornelia to tell him in Korean. When his uncle unexpectedly shows up with a soup recipe, Ray is thrown into new challenges–including a live and very expensive turtle, his own relationship with his father and career as a chef, and an uncle who speaks a different language. Rounding out those who care for Ray’s father is Lucien, the hospice worker, who offers his own perspective on death and the dying, and whose lines provide the play’s title.
Full of depth, Aubergine is a quiet play in many ways, yet it is incredibly moving. Cho deftly deals with that most human of events–dying and death–without being heavy handed. And through it all, food, its meaning flooding memories and interactions. I should say too that this is not a depressing play, despite dealing so intimately with death. “Catharsis” is the word Playwrights’ artistic director uses to describe the feeling. I would call it a kind of fullness, the feeling the audience carries out the door with them. Continue Reading »
A survey conducted by New America Media shows that people of color do care about the preservation of public lands. This is confirmed by the fact that Fremont’s Mission Peak is a favorite place for Asian Americans to hike, and its popularity is causing problems. The city of Fremont has decided to place restrictions on parking, leaving certain areas of the neighborhood near the Stanford Avenue trail head available for parking only by residents on weekends and holidays. The affected area is shown within the yellow border in the picture above.
Certain streets are available all the time as are the spots near the Ohlone trail head. Specifically for the weekend, the following are available:
If you look at the comments from our post on the crowding problems, people on both sides of the issue feel pretty strongly, and to no surprise, the Fremont City Council’s decision raised mixed feelings.
Although Number Two Son recently went to Mission Peak with his friends, I wondered if it had become any less popular with Asian Americans since I last wrote about it two years ago. I quickly found a planned Asian American meetup that involved hiking Mission Peak. I’ll have to let my kids know about the parking changes. The resident permit system goes into effect on October 1, 2016.
I had first heard of Stephanie Murphy while seeing a DailyKos headline on Facebook titled, Dems come through at the last minute with competitive district (FL-7) … and what a candidate!:
“Murphy isn’t just a young up and comer—she has quite a resume. She is a former national security specialist, and an executive at Sungate Capital, where she is responsible for leading investment efforts and implementing government initiatives. She was the director at the Center for Innovative Health Care, and is also a professor of business and social entrepreneurship at Rollins College.
Not impressed yet? Okay. How’s this: she is also an expert on foreign affairs. She has served as a national security specialist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense where she received the prestigious Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. Her bio notes that she worked on a wide range of security issues from counterterrorism to foreign military relations.
She also serves on several nonprofit boards and somehow finds time to be wife and mother of two young children.
Still not impressed? Very well. How about her backstory? She left a Vietnamese refugee camp when she was six months old, and her parents worked as laborers while she and her brother became the first of her family to go to college. She is the epitome of the American dream.”
and recognized her when she spoke at the AAPI Caucus at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
My friend Otto Lee happened to be hosting a fundraiser in downtown San Jose and I was able to meet and chat with her.
What was interesting to hear from Stephanie was how much her opponent, long time Republican incumbent, Congressman John Mica, is openly supporting Trump for President:
“Kris Hammond, an elected delegate to the 2016 GOP convention who also is a member of #NeverTrump, tweeted news of Mica’s love for Trump. “Rep. John Mica says ‘I love Trump,’ then says joking but open to supporting,” Hammond tweeted. “Likes his immigration stand & business cred.””
Also, what I thought was a touching moment was when someone introduced a fellow Vietnamese American immigrant who came to the U.S. during middle school or so, and was about to go to college. Stephanie was impressed. She came to the U.S. as a refugee as a baby, so she essentially grew up speaking and understanding English (she also speaks Vietnamese, Spanish and Japanese).
Stephanie spoke about her experience working in Japan – and even after studying textbook Japanese in college – when she arrived in Japan, felt helpless and truly felt what her parents must have felt as immigrants to the U.S. She began to fully appreciate what her parents went through as she often had to be a translator for her parents. That story reminded me of what it must have been like for my parents to have immigrants in the 1960s, which must have been a whole lot tougher!
Stephanie has a real chance of winning this Congressional District 7 in Florida, as she’s got the backing of the Democratic Party:
“DCCC Chairman and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico announced Friday Murphy would be added to the PAC’s Red to Blue program, which provides training, money and assistance to candidates in races throughout the country that Democrats target, thinking they can flip them from Republican control.
In this case, Murphy is seeking to take on a well-entrenched, 12-term incumbent in Mica.”
Due to redistricting, the district is more balanced in regards to registered Democrats and Republicans. So I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing Stephanie defeat this 12-term Trump-loving incumbent!
Our very own Akrypti has been quite busy since she went on a hiatus from covering APA social politics for 8Asians. She’s taken the tarot world by storm with her first book Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for Personal Growth back in 2015. Since its publication, Holistic Tarot became a bestseller in its category and has gone on to win four prominent book awards.
Now Akrypti—I mean Benebell—is coming out with her second book, one that circles back to her heritage and roots. The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Tradition covers the history and cultural practice of Fu talismans, a form of sigil spell-casting, from its shamanic roots during the Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties (roughly 2100 BC to 256 BC) and through its peaks in practice to the suppression and castigation of it during the Qing. More importantly, The Tao of Craft is arguably one of the first books published in the English language to cover the practical and instructional aspects of crafting Fu talismans and East Asian metaphysics, sorcery, and witchcraft.
At 600 pages, The Tao of Craft is a tome of a book. I sat down with my old friend Akrypti—again, I mean Benebell Wen—to talk about her second publication. The book will be out in stores September 27, but you can pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Penguin Random House, or through your favorite bookstore.
JOZ: So we’ve been good friends and have known each other through 8Asians for over a decade. Yet it was only a few years ago that I learned you were into metaphysical practices. Can you tell me more about that?
BELL: I’ve been into that kind of thing as early as I can remember and read books on these topics as soon as I gained literacy. Prior to the publication of Holistic Tarot, you’re right, I didn’t talk about these interests with others, and post-publication of the tarot book, I was thrust out of the shadows and put in a situation where I had to talk about it to promote my new book. That happened before I was actually ready for it, so it was interesting.
The Tao of Craft, I feel, is relevant to the Asian American community, which is why I think I’m okay with the Akrypti and Benebell link now. It’s relevant not just because I cover esoteric Taoism from a Chinese historic and cultural perspective, but for another funny little reason. You don’t see many Asian Americans writing prominently about esoteric Taoism. By and large publications on this topic are by white men (or native Chinese people who co-author with, you guessed it, white men). Ceremonial magic generally, whether you’re referring to Western mystery traditions or Eastern, is dominated by white men. That in part motivated me to speak up and attempt to have my voice heard in such an arena. I’m also hoping The Tao of Craft will appeal to Asian Americans.
JOZ: Why do you think The Tao of Craft is important for the Asian American community?
BELL: I can only tell you why this book was important for me. It brought me closer to my ethnic and cultural roots. I gained an appreciation for the depth and breadth of Chinese spiritual history. In so many ways, understanding all that I’ve come to understand through the research and writing of The Tao of Craft, I’m even prouder now of my heritage than I was before. For me, there’s something activist about reclaiming long-neglected spiritual traditions. The book is a resource for Asian Americans who want to reconnect with those roots.
To get a taste of the book, check out this appendix, which is a summary of the history of Taoism that I touch upon in The Tao of Craft. You can read more excerpts from the book here.
JOZ: Why do you think Asian Americans, most of whom I presume are not practitioners of Taoist magic, would be interested in this book?
BELL: The bulk of the book is research. It’s about history. We start with Neolithic shamans and archeological findings of oracle bones in northern China and how that became integrated into the talismanic practices of Taoist priests. We touch upon the political activism of Taoist ceremonial magicians during the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Many of the Eight Immortals were historically documented figures that later became mythologized. The legends we grow up with about how the Chinese civilization was founded by the Yellow Emperor involve magical battles and spell-crafting. Magic and esotericism are intertwined with military strategy.
We look at several well-known Taoist magical lineages or mystery traditions and how they influenced Chinese history. Why are Buddhist and Taoist practices often intertwined? What are the origins of the Chinese lunar calendar? To me, the Chinese metaphysical principles of Qi, yin and yang, the Wu Xing, Ba Gua, He Tu and Lo Shu are provocative. As a Chinese/Taiwanese American, The Tao of Craft pays homage to where I come from. To realize that in the nucleus of who I am is this incredible history feels empowering. If for nothing else, this book should be interesting to Asian Americans for the research aspect.
JOZ: Are you afraid that linking your past work under Akrypti with what you’re trying to do now under Benebell Wen will somehow discredit one another? Do you think Asian Americans who resonate with your race politics militancy will be put off by your dabblings in the metaphysical world and fans of your metaphysical work will be put off by your race politics?
BELL: Yes, of course. And it’s bound to happen. The only thing that comforts me, even though it doesn’t really comfort me, is everything I’ve written, whether it was under Akrypti here at 8Asians or now through my books, is authentic and sincere to who I am. Also, those who decide one discredits the other aren’t being rational; they’re being emotional.
JOZ: So are you a full-time writer now?
BELL: No, I am still working as a lawyer full-time, though I’m at work on a third book already and will continue to research and write books on the side. I’m living out that tiger mom’s dream and also my own.
The Tao of Craft will be released September 27, 2016. You can pre-order now via Amazon.
The publisher is currently running a contest and you can win a free copy of the book before its release date. To enter, check out the details here. Deadline for the contest is September 16.