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Sunday In Germany: Lessons from Saigon, Books, Newspapers, TV, Diets and Web Sites

By Ken Yeager

Well, it’s Sunday again, the snow finally stopped but it is cold and gray outside and I am warm inside with absolutely no intention of venturing outside to do anything.

So what shall we talk about today and why am I doing this? One reason for doing this, I suppose, is that Bob has sort of taken a writing holiday and when he is writing he usually goes off on an intellectual slant (for example, How Opium Led You To Becoming a Saigon Kid). I can’t compete with that so I just ramble with whatever comes to mind, or for today, I made a small list of things that I could ramble on about, so here goes. However, be advised this missive today is only for those with nothing better to do!!!

One of the things that Saigon taught me was to read to occupy my time and it is something that has stuck with me all of my life ever since. I love to read…not intellectual stuff but mysteries, historical fiction, stuff like that. I like to be entertained. One author that I have really enjoyed is a British author named R.F. Delderfield (1912-72). A quick read of Wikipedia will give you lots of information about him and a list of books that he’s written. I believe I read my first book by him probably 20-25 years ago, bought in a second hand book store. I didn’t realize at the time that I read the first book of a three book series. Later on, I managed to read all three of the series and then started buying books over eBay or Amazon and while I haven’t read them all, I’ve made a damn big dent in them. I also bought two videos, both of which were productions of two of his books (one book and one series). I don’t recommend the videos as they don’t follow the book as closely as I would like but the books are really excellent, if you enjoy historical fiction. My favorites are “God is an Englishman.” “Theirs was the Kingdom” and “To Serve Them All My Days.” The first two are a series of three books each.

Another author I enjoy is Donna Leon, an American mystery writer who lives or lived in Venice, Italy, as well as a number of other places. I was introduced to her books by a German television series that was made following her books. In most cases the TV series followed the books quite well, but I always enjoy the books more than the TV series. According to Wikipedia, she has written 19 books in the Brunetti series, Brunetti being the police Commissario in the local police unit. Very entertaining.

While I certainly enjoy some TV programs, I am glad that I was a teenager without TV and before the introduction of computers into everyone’s home. I think computers are great things and I sure enjoy mine, but reading to me is so important. Books, magazines, and newspapers make up a good part of my day now that I am retired. I do read a lot of news and stuff on the computer was well, but I do like my printed sheet newspaper. Living overseas and wishing to keep up on the political goings on in the U.S., I subscribe to the International Herald Tribune, now owned by the New York Times (yes, I am a proud Obama-supporting Democrat, but let’s not go there). The paper was originally established in 1887 in Paris, France and has gone through a number of name changes and permutations over the years. I find it an excellent paper without tons of advertisements and rarely more than 24 pages. I get headline news, US and European news, a comics section, business, technical stuff as well as sports and fashions. It ain’t cheap but it is worth every Euro cent.

Local TV has some good programming, but also a lot of trash and of course, everything is in German. We do get a couple of English language programs but nothing really worthwhile except for BBC news, CNN and a few others. The Germans do some good crimmi (police) programs as well as nature or science information programs that I enjoy (I would enjoy them more if I spoke the language fluently). Thank goodness, German TV is not inundated with sports like U.S. TV although we do get our share of soccer (füßball).

For those of you who served in the U.S. military, you might be interested in a website called “Together We Served.” It is designed to allow those who served to reconnect with others who you knew or met while in the military. It is divided into service branches and it’s a bit of fun. To register doesn’t cost anything, but if you want access to the full website this is a nominal fee. I signed up and also registered my dad, who passed away in 1986. Check it out at www.togetherweserved.com.

Starting on Monday, Gisela and I will start on a three week diet. We both need to lose a few pounds (much more in my case, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on new clothes….I hate shopping for clothes). Our diet, which actually works, is a good one in that one is never hungry. True!!! I suppose the diet has been around for years under various names, but we refer to it as a “metabolic diet.” A few years ago we gave a blood sample to a lab and they were supposedly able to determine our metabolism and thus what one can eat and digest easily and what not. Some things are eliminated right away….no carbohydrates, sugars or oils. What we do eat is steamed, roasted in the oven or cooked in a frying pan with a liquid made from various herbs and spices. We eat mostly fish, chicken or turkey and lots of vegetables and salads and drink lots and lots of water. Yes, the food tends to be bland and after the first week, boring, but it does work and as I said earlier, I have never left the table hungry. Can’t say I enjoy the food, but the results are always good for me. I can usually lose 8 to 10 lbs in two weeks. The down side is I usually gain two lbs. right away, but then stabilize.

I have a few more items on my list, but they can wait until next week or whenever I get to rambling again. I wish you all a good safe week. If you are where it is warm (Sarah), enjoy it while you can.

Hugs to all – Ken

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