Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Books, New Seeds, New Website

I got a notice in my inbox the other day that my neighborhood Borders is going out of business. Kind of sad, because I love the atmosphere of a bookstore, how it smells from the coffee upstairs to that distinctive paper and ink scent. But it is just plain difficult to compete with online book retailers like Amazon, the competitive landscape is changing to that of a virtual world.

So I went in and bought some books I had on my wishlist because everything was 20% off and I have to say that I just checked on Amazon and their price is still lower than what I paid for at Borders with the discount. I mean, this is exactly why bookstores like Borders cannot compete. Plus I had to pay tax, but that may be changing soon for online retailers as well with states being so broke.

The first book I bought was (notice the irony with the link!) Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond. I had his book Guns, Germs and Steel on my wishlist but since it was not in stock and Collapse was, plus it was the follow-up to GG&S, I got it instead.

In Collapse, Diamond explores the demise of once-productive societies such as the Maya, Easter Islanders and Greenland Norse. He also sounds the alarm on environmental practices undermining modern societies, including China, Russia, Australia and the United States.

It got rave reviews and so I'm going to learn a little something.

While I was there I bought Victoria Boutenko's Green for Life, on how greens and incorporating green smoothies improves your diet and overall health. It's a more detailed look into the nutrition of raw fruits and vegetables in the diet.

As a matter of fact, yesterday I made a green smoothie with two apples, half a Meyer lemon from Mom and Dad's tree, a leaf of collard greens, and about 3 large handfuls of baby spinach. Granted all that made just over a liter and I only drink half that per day. Green Smoothie Girl and Victoria Boutenko both recommend drinking a liter, but I'm not there yet.

One pint of that smoothie and a small serving of leftover brown rice and tofu for breakfast held me over til noon. Normally I have to eat a more substantial breakfast AND have a mid-morning snack because my body just gets HUNGRY during the morning and mid-day. But I didn't one pang at all, which is simply amazing.

So as I was reading Green for Life, Boutenko mentions using chia seeds as a way of getting more fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet. It also helps control your appetite when you soak the seeds and they turn into a gel because the seeds bulk up and produce a thick film around the seed. By adding 1/3 cup of seeds to a cup of water will bulk it up nicely and so you add that to your green smoothie to add lots of good fiber.

Those were all the magic words I needed to see on the page. Golf's Amazon Prime membership ends on Monday so I rushed over to see if any merchants offered Prime shipping on chia seeds. Sure enough, I found a great deal on a 3-pound bag of chia seeds and I ordered them yesterday. I plan to make chia gel and incorporate them into my smoothies, so I will tell you how it goes. Chia is supposed to not taste like anything, just act as a bulking agent to make you feel full. They do have calories though, so I cannot use too much, unlike konnyaku or shirataki, the yam noodle.

OK, lastly I want to promote my friend Benjawan Becker's new book called The Interpreter's Journal. Benjawan has taught foreigners to learn Thai and Lao over the last 15 years and in the meantime she has also been an interpreter in the northern California court system.

Follow my very personal journey starting in Thailand, the Land of Smiles. See how the influence of my family, Thai culture, Buddhism, meeting foreigners in Thailand, traveling abroad and living in the United States formed the catalyst for me to master several languages, become a professional interpreter and write numerous books on learning the Thai and Lao languages.
Her story is fascinating and inspiring. If you're interested in languages, the law, or in success stories, then The Interpreter's Journal is a good book for you.

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