In January, we’ll be dabbling in urban fantasy when our little book club tackles Marjorie M. Liu’s The Iron Hunt (Check the right sidebar for details.  Oh, alright, you lazy good-for-nothings.  Discussion the week of January 17th with author Marjorie M. Liu).  In February, we’ll be switching gears to take on a little Hard SF in Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes

Says Publisher’s Weekly: “Canadian author Schroeder’s challenging hard SF novel explores the vast potential of artificial intelligence for transforming human culture. On the remote ring world of Teven Coronal, Livia Kodaly and her family inhabit the beautiful Westerhaven manifold, surrounded by a richness of high tech and virtual conveniences. Due to a childhood tragedy, Livia enjoys different consensual realities. The mysterious Book 3340 breaks down the barriers between manifolds, destroying her world, so that she must travel, with a few accomplices, out of Teven Coronal into the Archipelago, where she encounters several models for a perfect human society and examines her own. Her task is to choose among them, but ultimately to ensure that choices are possible by sacrificing herself to prevent the total subjugation of humanity. The interrelationship between technology and philosophy that informs her choice gives depth and breadth to a book that many will want to reread to get all the nuances.”

Says SfSite: “Karl Schroeder’s new novel is the real thing–head-snappingly cool SF, with big and clever ideas, almost believable transcendence, and a way to map human scale stories into a world where ‘post-human’ powers exist.”

Says Library Journal: “Schroeder specializes in far future, hard sf. His lively writing style and cutting-edge visions combine to deliver a topnotch story that emphasizes the human will to persevere even when reality is falling apart. A good choice for most sf collections.”

Says me: I’ve heard a lot of great things about Lady of Mazes from some very great people.  Plus, Karl and his wife are Stargate fans!

Discussion the week of February 14th, 2011 with author Karl Schroeder.

Well, as promised, after considerable consideration, I’ve narrowed down your entries in the “I Make the Best Whatever” contest down to the Elite Eight dishes that will battle for culinary supremacy on this blog (and in my kitchen).  The champion of the round robin tourney wins the title of Goodliest Eats 2011 and a remarkable prize (to be decided on awarded at a later date).  It was very tough choosing from among the slew of delectable-sounding dishes but, in the end, I was able to trim the field by focusing on those entries that: a) appealed most to my warped culinary sensibilities, b) showed a degree of creativity and/or personal ownership, and c) seemed uncomplicated enough that even I could successfully prepare them without burning down my kitchen.  And so – drumroll, please – the Elite Eight are…

dasNdanger's Puerco Pibil

You had me at “Puerco”.

Jeff W's White Chocolate Cheesecake

Yep, that’s right.  I went with the white chocolate over the milk chocolate cheesecake.  I’m leaning toward the white’s more subtle flavors.  Also, Akemi prefers white.

Mark's great Great Grandma's Kifli

It’s his Great Grandma’s recipe!  That’s as home-cooking as you can get.


Tim Lade’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

I was promised a pic, but the combination of the words “chocolate”, “peanut butter”, and “pudding” alone were enough to secure a playoff spot.  But I still want that picture!

DP's Cobbler

I’m usually not a fan of fruit-themed desserts, but I’m a sucker for cobbler with a nice dollop of vanilla ice cream.  Of course, if the official entry doesn’t include a recipe for the accompanying vanilla ice cream, DP faces a darkhorse battle.

Alexander of Houston's Pork Tenderloin

From group underdog to field favorite.  Alexander of Houston dishes a recipe worthy of culinary institute.  But am I worthy of following his directions?


Shiny’s Sancocho

No, it’s not a euphemism.  It’s a hearty traditional soup/stew popular in Spain, the Canary Islands, and South and Central America.

Sparrow_hawk's Chicken Breast with Brown Butter and Fried Sage Leave

This looked and sounded so damn good, it edged out the Nutella Croissants!

So there you are.  Listen up, candidates – if you haven’t posted a recipe yet, please do so.  The rest of you – let the betting begin!  And thanks to everyone who entered.

A marginally better day today.  At least my dog didn’t pee on me.  I woke up way too early because Jelly was crying.  Was she in pain?  Lonely?  Did she have to go to the bathroom?  Nope.  She was just hungry.  I fed her and the rest of the gang, then proceeded to clean the house (since I’ve realized I’ll have one whole half day to tidy up between my return from Tokyo and mom and sis’s arrival in Vancouver for Christmas).  I worked out, had my protein shake, then showered up and headed out, Jelly in tow.

In a desire to make as informed a decision as possible, I decided to look into alternative treatments and second opinions for Jelly.  The first vet I visited checked her out and informed me that nothing short of surgery would cure her condition.  Instead, he focused on pain management, suggesting I  start her on Gabapentin and monitor her progress for a few weeks before trying acupuncture.  The second vet I visited checked her out and came to the same bottom line conclusion: only the surgery would improve her condition. But unlike the first doctor’s wait and see attitude, he urged me to schedule the surgery as soon as possible lest she deteriorates completely.

Suffice it to say that the second opinions only served to reinforce my confusion and general uncertainty.  If I go ahead with the surgery and it leaves her paralyzed (or worse), I’ll feel terrible.  If I don’t do the surgery and her condition deteriorates, leaving her paralyzed (or worse), I’ll feel terrible.  If I wait too long to schedule the surgery and she takes a turn for the worse, I’ll feel terrible.  If I rush her into surgery and something goes wrong, I’ll feel terrible.

I cheered myself up by heading back to the dentist for the third time this week to (finally) get that crown finished.  To the list of things I hate – popcorn, candied fruit, shepherd’s pie, kiwi’s – please add “needles”.  I received another four this afternoon and, when they didn’t do the trick, another two for good measure.

“Is it working?”asked my dentist hopefully as I massaged the right side of my face.

“I hope so,”I said.  “Otherwise, I think I’m having a stroke.”

All lopside grin and drooling aside, it was a much nicer visit than the last one.

Tomorrow, Jelly has one more vet appointment and I have a bunch of things to get done (ie. buy chairs for the kitchen table because all the old ones have last their backs) before I’m Tokyo-bound on Monday.

Also, there’s something wrong with my garage door.

Soooo sleeeeeepy…

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Joe, and not to make light of the situation, but you could always have Carl make the decision about Jelly’s treatment for you. Then, if anything goes wrong, you can blame Carl and HE’LL feel terrible.

Ya know, just a thought. wink

I’ll get my recipe to you tomorrow. Too tired tonight.

@ Sparrowhawk – My favorite part with Corrie was when he went on about the piercings. lol Some good detective work there…finding out exactly where she was, and was not, pierced. wink



I would do the surgery.
If all vets indicate a very probable degradation without it, then the sooner is the best.
Your dog will still be strong enough if you do it early.
Lets face it, its not going to get better but only worse so get this out of the way ASAP.
My best wishes of recovery to your pug. And also take care of yourself in Japan. Relax, enjoy the time off. Make sure you leave your dog with someone trustful. Leave instructions and go to Asia.
Take care of yourself first.


Joe, I had a similar choice to make concerning TMJ treatment. Decided on pain management after reading reputable online sources (US National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic, TMJ Association). Found a pain-management dentist through the specialty’s professional society.

Perhaps there are similar authorities for veterinary science? Is there a vet school in YVR area that would have both pain-management and orthopedic specialists?

Please pet Jelly and the other pups on my behalf.


First I noticed that destiny’s hull looks oxidized, even rusted, in the vacuum of space metal wouldn’t do that, would it? Is destiny capable of entering the atmosphere of life supporting planets and landing? Second I would just like to say that Resurgence was an amazing episode and I am looking forward to seeing the last half of season two, and third is there any chance that we might get to see any schematics or hull geometry for the seed ship… or destiny.


Joey, dropped you an e-mail. And no worries, it has nothing to do with albinos, my opinion on how characters should be written, or my living room. grin


PS. FYI… albinoesque characters should be written EXACTLY how Pendergast and Elric are written. They’re just so wonderful to curl up with on my living room couch after Mr. Das has crawled off to bed!

Ya know…just for the record. smile


Not that New Haven in the winter is fun, but here is the contact info for Yale’s Vet program:

And they also had resource links for major vet associations on their vet program website

Alexander of Houston
Alexander of Houston

Wow Joe, I am surprised this came about. I will have to get back to you with the recipe in another day, I have to research some notes.

Jelly don’t look so good and with her advanced age as well as her problems, I know this is a hard decision for you. The only empathy I have is when my parents adopted a pound puppy, it was part Great Dane, who had a severe hook worm infestation and would not make it b/c of blood loss. I wanted nothing more than to try and help him through it. In the end, we had to put him down. In the short time I knew him, I loved him. You’ll do what’s right by Jelly Joe, but since you are about to be out of country on a trip, it will be difficult even more so.



Sean D.

So Joe,

What’s the most number of pages that you’ve ever written?

(For a story or anything else.)

It turns out I’m already making a revision to my dissertation (for the ph.d.)…

…and I haven’t even had the “final exam” with the professors on the doctoral committee yet. lol

One prof responded a week after I submitted the completed paper (all ~300 pages of it) and he already had gobs of comments for things he wants me to update in it.

And he expected me to complete the revision in just a couple days. HAHA rrrrrriiiiiight. It was more like a one-week venture, currently working on finishing up the current revision.

I’m betting one of the professors on my doctoral committee will make a comment during the final exam/oral defense, right after they (hopefully!) pass me and right as I’m about to walk out, they’ll say something along the lines of, “Oh, by the way, even though we’re passing you, we’d still like you to make another revision on your dissertation.” Then they’ll unload gobs and gobs of requests for adding stuff, removing stuff, changing stuff, fixing stuff, etc.

FUN! grin

Anyway, yeah, well… okay back to work.

Have a nice day,

Sean D.


Your day yesterday sucked, Joe. I have a feeling that the third opinion you seek for Jelly will give you a third opinion, confirming neither the first or the second. It’s hard to make these kinds of decisions. It reminds me of some friends I know who had to make a very difficult decision for their child. The child was having constant seizures. They had gone through every possible medical therapy combination they could try. It appeared the only choice was to have part of their child’s brain removed. If they didn’t do the surgery, their child would continue to have seizures. The seizures on this scale could cause brain damage. It was definitely influencing quality of life. The seizures could also lead to death if they struck their head on anything while having one. However, it is a known thing. Something the parents are comfortable with treating. The surgery has its own risk including the child becoming brain damaged, death. There would be months of rehabilitation while the child learned to walk, talk, etc., do all the things that part of the brain controlled that would now be gone. All that stuff would need to be rewired, relearned. How does a parent decide to remove part of their child’s brain? I cannot even begin to process that kind of decision-making, the endless tears, the sleepless nights. In the end they did it, and it took a long time, but most of the child’s functionality (that the brain controlled) has been relearned and the seizures are gone. For them, it turned out well. But what if things had gone the other way? I don’t want to start a controversial topic on the blog, so please everyone, I’m just saying this to expand on this topic. I believe that the vaccines are what gave Patrick his autism (and I’m totally okay with people disagreeing with me on that point, but that isn’t the point, so read on). And as his parent, I decided to allow them to be given. For a long time, I lived with that until I decided I wasn’t going to punish myself for that anymore. It served no good purpose. I made a decision based on the information I had at the time. Sometimes decisions you make turn out well, sometimes they don’t. I went around for years blaming myself for his autism. Patrick was not blaming me. No one else was blaming me. Then one day I said, “What am I getting from this?” Guilt, anger. Next question was what was guilt and anger getting me. It was propelling me to advocate for change. Okay, so I was doing something positive with those negative emotions. But could I advocate for change without feeling guilty and angry? And the answer was yes, so I said goodbye to them. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but maybe it would help you in your decision making. It was very liberating. I can’t change what has already been… Read more »


My thoughts are with you, Joe. So hard to make these calls. Best wishes to Jelly. Give her lots of fuss for all of us.


Hey Joe,

I so LOVE…

“Oh, alright, you lazy good-for-nothings.”

Perfectly describes me right about now. I am on vacation visiting family for the holidays and I would say…doing pretty much “nothing”. So I am good for doing THAT…nothing.

Of course lazy could have referred to me earlier this week when I choose to stay in my PJs all day and watch endless TNT & Syfy. Okay..I was sick..but was quite the lazy day.

I will attempt to obtain the book and have it read before the deadline. Vacations and books are so very yummy.

Best to you Joe…and Jelly,

P.S. I was told by a very GOOD doctor that AloeVera Gel relieves different kinds of pain when applied to the skin…even for tummy troubles. I’d had a stomach ache for a week without any relief from over-the-counter or prescribed meds. I used the gel as he instructed…within 15 minutes I had relief. I couldn’t believe it. Not just on the top of the skin relief…but all the way through. Go figure..had no idea. Not that I could figure out how to apply it to Jelly…but it would actually probably be even good it she licked it. Just a thought. *hugs & a squish for Jelly*


I notice from your ‘currently reading’ list that you seem to read a lot of stand-alone novels. How much do you read books that are part of a series of some kind? Or rather, how frequently do you read all the books in a series?


Hello !!

ça va Joseph?

Une journée bien remplit on dirait? =)

Moi oui super! Tiens il neige sur le blog,^^ à Paris aussi, avec des températures digne du pôle nord mais ça à l’air d’aller mieux..

Lol le dentiste, j’aime pas ça non plus, surtout les anésthésies…c’est vraiment étrange comme sensation.

Oh, je suis triste pour Jelly =( j’espere que son état va s’amélioré.

…bientôt les fêtes en famille!! Je suis tellement impatiente!!!

Merci pour ces photos!
Gros bisou!

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Unfortunately, you are the ultimate decider. Some of the factors I use are: how good a patient is the animal? If Jelly is good for treatments, that is a big plus. The more she hates it, the more stressed out she will be. Quality of life is a big factor, too. You are the one that sees Jelly every day, so you can answer that by observation. Nail down those jello vets and ask them why they have decided on their course of action. (good luck with that one)
Whatever you decide will be the right decision. Don’t look back and agonize over what path you took. Jelly knows you love her and will always do what is best for her.

Narelle: what language was that yesterday grin .



let the betting begin!

Hmmm…I think I’ll place my bet on Alexander of Houston’s Pork Tenderloin or dasNdanger’s Puerco Pibil. Now what are we betting again?

I really really want to try the Puerco Pibil! Will the recipes become public? wink

On the white chocolate cheesecake recipe, I’m a little ambivalent about the strawberry syrup; meaning you could produce a light syrup with no cooking (great for a summer cheesecake) or a heavy syrup on the stove with reduction.

For winter, you may want to do the reduction. In this case simply reduce the light syrup on a stove over low-heat.

Good luck and email me if you have questions. Oh, and be careful of giving a slice to Ashleigh…every woman I have given a slice to has demanded I bake them their very own cake…multiple times! smile


Oh and where are my manners…thanks for nominating me to one of the finalists spots!

In case I wasn’t clear on the recipe, here it is:

Thanks again, and I’m lifting up prayers for you and Jelly. Maybe a second opinion/consultation could help clarify the risks better?


I’m so sorry to hear about Jelly’s deterioration and your bad day yesterday *big hugs to you both*

It’s a massive decision that only you can make. I remember when I had to make such a decision about our cat Maxine, only I was just a high school kid and Maxine had a stroke and was paralyzed and dragging her back legs. It was heart breaking.

I did some research online and found a few sites that might provide more information to help you make your decision regarding surgery, rest, alternative therapies.

Go Pets America

Seattle Vet Specialists

Integrative Treatment of Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease

Who is looking after the dogs while you’re away or are they going to a kennel?

Cheers, Chev



I decided to look into alternative treatments and second opinions for Jelly.

Man I am slow on the uptake this morning! First the manners thing then skim-reading too fast. Gotta remember finish coffee then comment…finish coffee then comment.

I’m praying the latest vet visit will give you some clarity and direction for Jelly’s treatment.


Still bummed about the competition. Joe you really got my hopes up with the judging criteria and the fact you included dishes without pictures. Should have known I never had a hope. sad


Sue Jackson
Sue Jackson

Awwww…poor Jelly. I so wanna give her a hug. I’m such a dog nut that I turn into a complete emotional mush. When you said you heard Jelly crying and you thought she was in pain, my heart sunk. Dogs are amazing creatures. Even though they are in pain, they try not to show it and will still do anything to please you. I’m sure you’ll do what’s best for the poor girl. She’ll be in my prayers.

Lisa R
Lisa R

I was so excited to see your Book of the Month pick for Feb. It’s at my library so I’ll get to participate! All of those dishes look good. I know you will have fun trying them out. All the best as you make your decision about Jelly.


If you didn’t feel terrible, there’d be something wrong with you. It’s a terrible situation to be in (((hug)))


How did your kitchen chairs lose their backs? You’re not a lean-backer are you?

Mt gold crown arrived at the dentists yesterday. They aren’t open on Friday, so I will know Monday when they can install it. I can’t see my upper back molars, so I think this one is number eight. All gold, all hand made by my brother in law. As for needles and dentists, I have an extra “branch” in the nerve to my jaw, so extra numbing is required. Yuck-o.

Hugs to Jelly, a throw in a few for yourself.

I saw a t-shirt at thinkgeek, all in Kanji. Supposedly says “I am looking for a Japanese girlfriend”. I laughed and thought of you, immediately followed by an image of a scowling Akemi.


About that leaking washer: Check where the drain hose meets the plumbing. A clog may cause the drain to back up. If that area is wet, call a plumber to clear the pipe. (Just did this at our house.)