JOIN
OUR EMAIL LIST!

June, 2003, LOS ANGELES - In celebrating the diversity of America, the United States government recognizes the heritage of each group of ethnic Americans virtually every month of the year. May has been designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and, in observation of it, I was invited by the U.S. Department of Defense to tour seven military bases in Germany.

Asian Pacific American heritage is a topic that I have spoken on before but I sensed that the Star Trek magnet had something to do with the invitation as well. I accepted the invitation with relish.

Last month, the war in Iraq was an issue that had many in our nation -- and the world -- at odds with each other. But, whether hawk or dove or an owl somewhere in between, I think many of us felt a strong connection with the U.S. and British soldiers on the battlefield. They were our friends and neighbors out there in Iraq. Their courage and sacrifice, their professionalism and technological effectiveness, were amazing. I swelled with pride as I saw the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein brought down by our combat forces.

As I watched the news on television, I saw something else. I saw an American military that I had not seen before. I saw both men and women of all races as soldiers, and, distressingly, as prisoners of war and as casualties. I saw a U.S. military that truly reflected the vast diversity of American society today. I wanted to visit the military communities in Germany to thank our soldiers for a job well done and their families for their sacrifices. I also wanted to applaud the U.S. Army for its progressive diversity program. This rare opportunity was something like a non-singing, non-dancing, all-talking Bob Hope tour of our military communities in Germany. In addition, as it turned out, the tour included convivial gatherings with groups of Star Trek friends as well.

It was a whirlwind tour. Two nights in Bamberg, a couple of nights in Ansbach, then on to Hohenfels, a night in Heidelberg, then two in Darmstadt, a weekend in Mannheim, then on to Wurzburg. It was constant packing and unpacking, meeting the brass and signing autographs for the soldiers, traveling from one base to another with my speech, "A Salute to Liberty" on Asian Pacific American heritage, at each base as the centerpiece. I collected plaques, beer steins, commemorative coins, and other gifts after each speech. The welcome was tremendous. The tour was exhilarating and enlightening. I saw and experienced so much. A tour of the Combat Maneuver Training Center at Hohenfels, with cutting edge technology combined with a Hollywood back-lot style recreation of a Slavic village complete with Slavic-speaking villagers more believable than any Hollywood extra, was most impressive. At Ansbach, I sat in an Apache helicopter wearing a high tech helmet equipped with night vision targeting lens. I visited storybook villages with cobble-stoned streets that were hundreds of years old. I toured regal palaces. The Residence, the palatial home of the Bishop prince of Wurzburg, was gloriously restored after the devastating bombing it suffered during World War II.

The formal garden at the palace of Swartzengen was almost as spectacular as the one at Versailles. In a magnificent sarcophagus on the altar of the Cathedral of Bamberg are the remains of the only Pope outside of the Vatican. In Bamberg, I discovered a great beer unique to that town called routbier that has a rich, dusky tang like smoke. It has to be tasted to be appreciated. The tour was memorable, made even more unforgettable by a vegetable called spargel -- a rare, seasonal white asparagus. I happened to be there at the height of spargel season. As an honored guest of constantly changing hosts, this prized delicacy was served to me at almost every dinner at each stop. As a good guest, I enjoyed the spargel until it almost grew out of my ears. The welcome was generous and warmly embracing. Glowing memories of my tour of Germany will be with me forever. My heartiest appreciations to all of the good people at each of the military communities I visited for their grand hospitality. And a special note of thanks to Sharon Yelder of the U.S. Department of Defense in Germany. She is the indefatigable problem-solver who initiated the idea of my visit and coordinated the entire trip with grace and skill.

Wherever I go, there are communities of Star Trek friends as well. I had visited Mannheim less than six months ago for a Star Trek convention but there we were together again - organized by dear Sylvia Strybuc.

This was another wonderful opportunity to enjoy a convivial Saturday evening with old friends and new fans. Roger Hofstetter and friends even drove in from Basel, Switzerland, to join us. It was wonderful.

At the end of my military tour, I gave myself a few days in Munich. Filip Krejcik, a friend who lives not far from Munich, picked me up for a visit to his village, Deggendorf. He had even arranged for a guide from the city tourist bureau. Deggendorf is a charming, formerly walled village with an historic Rathaus or city hall. We climbed the ancient stone steps of the Rathaus spire to its very top. We saw the quarters of the keeper of the spire who rang the old city bell. The view from his window was panoramic.

From the medieval spire of the Rathaus, we strolled through the village down to the primordial flow of the great river of Europe, the Danube. A lone sculler was practicing on the fast-flowing water. That evening, we had a specially prepared dinner at Filip's new restaurant called Vis a Vis. It was salmon served with that special recurring treat, spargel -- another unforgettable dining experience.

One day of my stay in Munich was spent at a somber historic landmark nearby - the concentration camp at Dachau. Today, it is a museum of the inconceivable horrors that went on there. At the entrance is a wrought iron gate with the words, "Arbeit macht frei" - work makes you free - shaped in iron into it. Two of the barracks that housed the prisoners have been rebuilt. The others are only indicated by the row after row of the concrete foundations that remain. The gas showers and the crematorium remain chillingly as they were right beside each other. The main administration building, which also housed the kitchen and washroom, is the principal exhibit area. It is hard to walk through the displays of such barbarous inhumanity. I learned that the concentration camp was built in 1933 as a prison initially for the political opponents of the Nazis.

Then the gypsies were rounded up, followed by the homosexuals, then the religious leaders. It was after "kristallnacht," - the night of the anti-Jewish rampage in November 1938 - that the Jews began to be brought to Dachau. It was a sobering reminder that injustice against any isolated minority, no matter how distant and unrelated, becomes a menace to me. In the climate of terrorist anxiety today, we must be mindful that the threat to the civil liberties of Arab Americans also becomes an assault on me. It is, as well, a threat to the fundamental ideals of America. As I viewed the exhibit at Dachau, I understood profoundly why we Americans celebrate Asian Pacific American heritage in the month of May and observe the heritage of other groups throughout the year. We are all connected. Out of the dark lessons of history, I hope we can forge a brighter tomorrow.


Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Life is hard. It's a miracle to make it through with some semblance of sanity. We are all plagued by grief and trauma. More and more people of all backgrounds are opening up about personal trauma and its origins. Finally! For far too long we've been too silent on this topic. And with so many people unable to afford mental health care, the outcomes can be damaging.

All of our childhoods have ups and downs and memories that can play out like nightmares. We carry that, or it follows us and the first step in recovery is talking about it. So who feels strong enough to speak?

Redditor u/nthn_thms wanted to see who was willing to share about things they'd probably rather forget, by asking:

What's the most traumatizing thing you experienced as a child?
Keep reading... Show less
Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Being single can be fun. In fact, in this time of COVID, being single can save lives. But the heart is a fickle creature.

And being alone can really suck in times of turmoil. None of us are perfect and it feels like that's all anyone is looking for... perfect.

Now that doesn't mean that all of us are making it difficult to partner up. Sure, some people are too picky and mean-spirited, but some of the rest of us are crazy and too much to handle. So one has to be sure.

The truth is, being single is confusing, no matter how much we try to match. So let's try to understand...

Redditor u/Mcxyn wanted to discuss some truths about love and our own issues, by asking:

Why are you single?
Keep reading... Show less
Tiard Schulz/Unsplash

Whether you're an at home parent, a college student just leaving the nest, or a Food Network junkie, there are a few basic tips that everyone should know.

Chef's gave us some of their top tips for amateurs and beginner at home cooks that will really make a difference. They are trained professionals with years of experience in the kitchen, so they definitely know what we're all missing.

If you're looking to improve some of your cooking skills and techniques, but you're still learning how to boil water correctly, this list is for you.

Redditor BigBadWolf44 wanted in on the secrets and asked:

"Chefs of Reddit, what's one rule of cooking amateurs need to know?"

Let's learn from the masters!


What a common mistake!

"A lot of the time when people add salt to a dish because they think it tastes flat, what it really needs is an acid like lemon juice or vinegar."

- Vexvertigo

"Instructions unclear I drugged my dinner party guests and now they're high on acid."

- itsyoboi_human

"Yes! Or tomatoes. They're pretty acidic too and go with so many things. Our dinners are so much better once the garden tomatoes are ripe. Or if a dish is too acidic, oil/butter or a little sugar can help add balance to it."

- darkhorse85

"Like tomato and eggs. Every Chinese mom makes those slightly differently and I haven't had a tomato egg dish I didn't like yet."

- random314

"There's a book called 'Salt Fat Acid Heat' that comes highly recommended to amateur cooks."

- Osolemia

"Reading even just the first chapter about salt made a lot of food I cooked immediately better, because I finally understood salt wasn't just that thing that sat on the dinner table that you applied after the meal was cooked."

- VaultBoy42

"Salt is important for sweets. A batch of cookies without that little hint of salt doesn't taste quite right."

- Osolemia

Unfortunately, this tip might not be accessible to everyone. Many people who contracted COVID can no longer use their sense of smell the way they used to.

"Have a friend that lost his smell from COVID, and now he only recognizes if food is salty, sweet, sour or bitter."

- AlphaLaufert99

"Just wait until he gets his sense of smell back and a ton of foods smell like ammonia or literal garbage now. Yeah, that's fun... It's been 7 months for f*cks sake just let me enjoy peanut butter again!!!!!!!!!"

- MirzaAbdullahKhan

You can't take back what you've already put in.

"You can always add, but you cannot take away."

- El_Duende666

"I find people's problems usually are they're too scared to add rather than they add too much."

- FreeReflection25

"I see you also grew up white in the mid-west."

- Snatch_Pastry

Safety first!

"Not really a cooking tip, but a law of the kitchen: A falling knife has no handle."

- wooddog

"I'm always so proud of my reflexes for not kicking in when I fumble a knife."

"If I drop anything else, my stupid hands are all over themselves trying to catch it (and often failing). But with a knife the hardwired automatic reaction is jump back immediately. Fingers out of the way, feet out of the way, everything out of the way. Good lookin out, cerebellum!"

- sonyka

"Speaking of KICKING in. On first full time cooking job I had a knife spin and fall off the counter. My (stupid) reflex was to put my foot under it like a damn hacky sack to keep it from hitting the ground. Went through the shoe, somehow between my toes, into the sole somehow without cutting me. Lessons learned: (1) let it fall; (2) never set a knife down close to the edge or with the handle sticking out; (3) hacky sack is not nearly as cool as it could be."

- AdjNounNumbers

"Similarly, NEVER put out a grease or oil fire with water. Smother with a lid or dump baking soda in there (do not use flour, as it can combust in the air making things worse)."

- Metallic_Substance

How else will you know it tastes good?

"Taste the food."

- OAKRAIDER64

"Also don't be afraid to poke and prod at it. I feel like people think the process is sacred and you can't shape/flip/feel/touch things while you cook them. The more you are hands on, the more control you have."

"No, this does not include situations where you are trying to sear something. Ever try flipping a chicken thigh early? That's how you rip a chunk out of it and leave it glued to the pan until it's burnt."

- Kryzm

Here's one just for laughs.

"When you grab a pair of tongs, click them a few times to make sure they are tongs."

- Kolshdaddy

"People really overlook this one. You've gotta tong the tongs a minimum of 3 times to make sure they tong, or else it can ruin the whole dish."

- BigTimeBobbyB

If you're looking to get into cooking or to improve you technique, pay attention to these few tips.

Salt generously, add an acid to brighten things up, and don't forget to taste your food!

If all else fails, you can always order take out.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Victoria_Borodinova/Pixaba

As part of the learning process, children often do embarrassing things before they learn a little more about the world and all the different implications therein. While the inappropriate moment is usually minor and ends in laugher some instances are truly mortifying.

One such instance involved a little sister who was around 6 at the time. It was the 90s and at the height of the youth-focused PSAs (think the frying egg representing your brain). One type was a safety PSA about stranger danger. The speaker would remind the children that if a stranger tried to take you anywhere to yell “Stop, you're not my mommy/daddy" to raise the alarm.

Keep reading... Show less