1Jelly’s tests results are in and it’s good news: a grade 2 low-malignancy tumor with clean margins.  Apparently, that means the chances of a recurrence are low and that the operation was successful in removing all of the malignant tissue.  She’s still pretty spry for 15.  Pictured above, Jelly is thrilled to hear it.

1Bubba, meanwhile, was in for a check-up the other day.  He’s been unusually lethargic of late and has all but given up on stair-climbing (about the only regular exercise keeping him fit!).  The results of his blood panel were excellent except for the traces of crystal in his urine which are presumably the cause of his discomfort.  So, what gives?  Well, it could be one of three things:

1. His new raw food diet.  Bubba was on another raw food, but we switched over to this one because it’s prepared by our local butcher and includes healthy ingredients like kale and parsley.  The new diet is the obvious culprit but, from the online research I’ve done, protein isn’t usually among the list of suspect causes.

2. Tap water!  Apparently, a change in local water quality was to blame for a number of similar cases.  A higher concentration of minerals in the water will contribute to the formation of crystal deposits in the urine.  Maybe I should switch the dogs to bottled water?  Milk?  Whisky?

3. Potassium-rich banana.  Every morning when I make my post-workout shake, Bubba gets a piece of banana. In recent weeks, a pretty big piece of banana.  Could the banana be the cause?

4. Lately, Akemi has been on an apple chip tear.  And, inevitably, whenever she sits down for a snack, opportunistic Bubba is always parking himself beside her, eager to snack as well.  It’s hard to say no to that face.

5. Maybe something I’ve missed?

1No physical ailments for Lulu, but she has seemed down of late, off lazing about by her lonesome instead of being her usual perky, playful self.  What gives?  Could I have depressed french bulldog on my hands?  Any suggestions on how I could cheer her up? Longer walks?  A spa day?  A Vegas getaway?

A terrific counter to that (suddenly suspect) study on the dangers of eating protein: Animal protein as bad as smoking?!  Among the highlights:  “The study claims to have adjusted for protein in general vs. animal protein to conclude that animal protein is the harmful factor and not protein per se. Call me suspicious, but I always check for conflicts of interest and the lead researcher, Dr Longo, has declared interests in (actually, he’s the founder of) L-Nutra – a company that makes ProLon™ – an entirely plant based meal replacement product.”

As for those two other studies I linked to in yesterday’s post, apparently sitting around all day and being angry IS still bad for you.  But I’d like to take a closer look at those studies as well.

Awww.  A setback for the spoiled teen young adult trying to sue her parents with the help of her friend’s father-lawyer: Good News for Parents: See What a Judge Told a ‘Spoiled’ Teen …

Continuing our Book of the Month Club discussion of Terms of Enlistment:

Kathode writes: “We’re in the head of Andrew Grayson as he relays his first-person narrative, but I don’t feel I really know him.”

Answer: Exactly.  We learn very little about our protagonist, this despite the diary-style narrative that offers the perfect opportunity to get inside Andrew’s head.

Kathode writes: “…his thoughts at times totally contradict each other: when he’s living in the PRC with his mom, he appears to love her enough to take the trouble to make sure she will have something special (a bit of real food) after he’s gone, but then when he’s aboard the shuttle taking off from Boston and off to boot camp, he doesn’t bother to look out the window at his home falling away forever. Rather, he tells us, “If the Sino-Russian Alliance nuked the place right this moment, and I saw the fireball light up the night sky behind the shuttle, I wouldn’t feel a thing.” Uh, what? Your mom’s down there, dude!”

Answer: Great point.

cathode writes: “But then we never see that conversation! How would she react to what he did? Would he finally break down in the retelling of it, with the weight of his conscience? Here was an opportunity to make me care about Grayson and to understand their relationship, but Kloos seems to have completely forgotten that thread by the time Grayson meets up with Halley in person.”

Answer: Another great point and an example of an opportunity missed.  This could have been a real revelation and the way she responded could have said so much about her character whether she blindly supported him, worked hard to convince herself, or had reservations about what occurred .  Like the entire ethical dilemma Andrew faces on Earth, it’s completely glossed over and we are left to our own assumptions.

Kathode writes: “There are odd narrative contradictions too, which took me out of the story and made me think this book needed a better editor: (1) Grayson tells us that the stairways in the PRC are the most dangerous places, being where all the hood rats hang out to mug people violently. But later, at boot camp, the platoon is taken for its first real run, and Grayson tells us he’s confident in his fitness, since he’s been “running the staircases back at our residence cluster for the last three months in preparation for military training.” How is that possible, if the only time we’ve seen him navigate a PRC staircase, he opened the door a crack, listened for hood rats, and then went down the stairs as quickly as humanly possible? “Running the staircases” implies an entire workout, and certainly not a quiet enough one to be able to hear highly motivated hood rats approaching with mischief on their minds.”

Answer: Missed this one, but it’s yet another great point.

kathode writes: “The aliens presumably “fumigated” the colony on Willoughby, killing all the colonists without destroying any of the buildings. So why, then, do they mount a ground assault on the terraforming compound, pulling down giant, reinforced concrete structures with their bare hands? They could have just fumigated the terraforming compound without ever getting near the place. Or just left it alone, considering that their own terraforming apparatus was already transforming the planet to their specifications, quickly erasing the effects of the human terraforming efforts. And as MikeP said, weapons (which they obviously have, as they brought down a starship) would have been much more efficient.”

Answer: I’m reserving judgement on this one simply because we never do get to find out what the deal is with these aliens.  Maybe they’re the equivalent of attack dogs, dumb brutes that the advanced aliens sicced on the colony.  Of course, if that was the case, it doesn’t explain why the advanced aliens terraformed/gassed the atmosphere.  Presumably they did so to wipe out any native life forms while keeping existing structures intact.  But if that was the case, why loosen these destructive creatures on the planet?  Can anybody who has read the second book tell us if there was a good explanation for this?

Kathode writes: “Finally, the ending leaves much to be desired. The story just stops. Clearly, this is all a set-up for the next novel in the series, but each book in a series should be a stand-alone work.”

Answer: Ah, couldn’t agree more.  I’ve always held that a book, even if it is part of an ongoing series, should be self-contained.  I can leave the door open for a continuing storyline but, at same time, should offer a satisfying conclusion to a given chapter.

The Hump writes: “I have started reading Lines of Departure, which is the follow up book.   The war with the aliens is being looked at in more depth. Book one is feeling more like part one of a set.”

Answer: Agreed.  Did you feel that the second book answered most of these nagging alien-related questions in satisfactory fashion?

astrumporta writes: “I like a bit of style in fiction. It doesn’t all have to be Neil Gaiman or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but a bit of lyricism and beautiful language goes a long way for me. I know this was written in first person by a narrator without much ‘beauty’ in his life experience, so maybe the simple language was on purpose. I just found the style very spare.”

Answer: I suppose it comes down to a matter of taste.  I love Gaiman’s style which I find perfectly suited to the types of stories he tells.  In this case, you’re right – the sparse style is in keeping with our character’s outlook.  If found it made for a quick, uncomplicated read.

fsmn36 writes: “Not to mention – while typical – the “shoot first” response to the aliens was still bothersome. I know, I shouldn’t be concerned with aliens that (apparently) use chemical warfare and terraform a planet with people on it, and we find out about the release of mine-like things in the space around the planet…but it still seemed hasty?”

Answer: While I couldn’t fault them for shooting first and asking questions later, I also wondered why no attempt was made to communicate with an obviously superior foe.

fsmn36 writes: “That said, if there are sequels, there may still be answers to the PRCs (how did the rioters get military grade weapons, for one), plus more room for the aliens and such.”

Answer: Could anyone who has read ahead answer that for us?  Do we eventually get to learn more about the PRC’s in the second book?

dasndanger writes: ” Joe, in reading the comments above I came to the conclusion that the whole first person thing just doesn’t work for you (and many others).”

Answer: That’s not true.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of first person narratives, precisely because it’s more personal and allows the reader to gain a more intimate sense of who are protagonist is and what motivates him.

dasndanger writes: ” I’ve always enjoyed first person storytelling because the narrator doesn’t know all the whys and wherefores. He’s only telling what he knows, or what he cares to know.”

Answer: I don’t need to know all of the information an omniscient author can only provide.  I’d just like a little more insight into the characters, especially our protagonist.

dasndanger writes: “Also, keep in mind that an author doesn’t want to explore ALL plot devices in his first book – save something for later.”

Answer: To be sure but, in this case, I felt the author was unsuccessful.  Rather than intriguing me, whetting my appetite, and leaving me wanting more, I was left confused and unsatisfied.

Sylvia writes: “After reading the Terms of Enlistment, there were 3 other books related to this, so I bought and read them as well.”

Answer: Are you referring to the other two books in the series?  How do they compare to the first instalment?

Duptiang writes: “Like 2cats memtioned I normally do not analysis novels I have read. This perhaps being a first, or second time. I did enjoy it.”

Answer: Great!  Well pick up Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.  That’s up for discussion next month!

35 thoughts on “March 5, 2014: Updates on the dogs and recent news of note! Continuing our Book of the Month Club discussion!

  1. Horray for Jelly! That’s excellent news! I hope Bubba is feeling great again soon. Cheer up, Lulu! 🙂 Oy! Spoiled teens. So ridiculous.

  2. Good girl Jelly! She’s so pretty. So glad everything is okay with her.

    I’ve read that not all dogs take to a high protien diet. Good for high energy, very active dogs, like for example working dogs. Maybe Bubba just wants to keep his mama’s attention (Akemi) by acting weird sometimes.

    For Lulu, I recommend longer walks with Ivon. Seriously, she loves Ivon. Bring him over and maybe it will cheer her up.

  3. 5. Maybe something I’ve missed?

    Since Lulu is acting the same way, maybe it’s the Winter blahs? We’re certainly having a case of it here.

    kathode writes: “The aliens presumably “fumigated” the colony on Willoughby, killing all the colonists without destroying any of the buildings.

    I think it was the cities that were gassed (because of the concentration of people?), but maybe the remote areas (such as the terraforming stations) were handled “one on one” due to limited resources of the gas, or maybe it was too toxic to use on a wider scale. The intent didn’t seem to be to preserve the buildings, which in any case would probably be useless to 80-foot tall aliens.

    As for some of the inconsistencies, I wrote most of them off to teenage abruptness. Grayson could still feel he hated the PRC and wished it was gone, without thinking through the effects on his mother. Maybe I can relate to this dissonance because I have two teenagers in the house? 😉

  4. I’m intrigued by the attention so many of you are giving to the excessive force Grayson used during the riot. He was under heavy fire from an unknown enemy in an advantageous position. His squad were all dead or injured and he had the only weapon capable of changing the situation. So he used it. I would have done the same.

    As for the lack of repercussions. I got the impression that he was being used as a scapegoat more than any real desire from the military to punish him. The government controlled media had reported little – if anything – about the incident so my initial thoughts were that there was some sort of conspiracy, maybe related to the military grade weapons the civilians had, that was trying to be covered up by getting Grayson out of the way.

    Hopefully we will find out!

  5. It may just be a case of Lulu being anxious about Jelly… dogs do sense when something is not quite right and would have latched onto the fact that you were upset about something… so she may just pick up on her own now….

    Kriss 🙂

  6. I’m happy for jelly. Very good news! 😆
    By her face, Jelly says: fine but waht the hell The Tooth Fairyare is doing? I have three teeth missing and I see nothing under my mattress!

    In Bubba case i think an excces of treats is a clear possibility.
    Ponytail has the correct answer for Lulu.Long walks with Ivon. 😆

  7. Oh noooooo jelly so sorry to hear she’s not been well… Hope you’re feeling better soon sweets….Bubba hmmm tricky…I would suggest changing one thing at a time. Start with his food…Poor Lulu. Has Ivon been ignoring her? That’s enough to make anyone really sad. Why don’t you invite Ivon over for some one-on-one time with Lulu on the weekend. It’s not like there’s anything special on this weekend lol….Hope she’s better soon as well…. You are an incredible dad.

    This doesn’t sound like a book I want to read.

    cheers, Chev

  8. Good news on Jelly. not so good on the rest, but a little experimentation with the diets should help resolve issues. I’d start by cutting back on the banana, as there is way too much potassium in even one piece than a dog their size need each day. I also second JeffW’s hypothesis of winter blahs. Plus, your four legged friends are just middle aged now, so they are entitled to occasional down days. Perhaps just a few more minutes a day of attention? I do hope they perk up and stay healthy.
    Good points made by Kathode, as well as others. Again, glad you revived this tradition, and looking forward to the next discussion.

  9. Sorry that poor Bubba is having troubles. Did they do an analysis to determine the type of crystals? – the crystal composition is important in determining what to do next. Is he drinking enough water? No matter what the crystal type, keeping his kidneys and bladder flushed out it a good thing.
    Poor little Lulu is down in the dumps? Maybe Lulu wants a ride in the cool doggie carriage, too!
    Great news about Jelly! And I’m glad she recovered so quickly from her surgery – must be all of that TLC.

    Great book discussion! I just ordered Annihilation. From what I recall of the last Jeff Vandermeer book,I don’t expect that it will be as quick a read as the last book..

    I am so proud of that judge for keeping a common-sense attitude about that spoiled brat of a NJ teen. And if she is truly out on her own, she can apply for scholarships based on need to attend college. Or apply for student loans. Maybe that nice lawyer family she is living with will co-sign for her.

  10. Since the doggie discussion desk seems to be open, I would like to put a question out to the group: I have an 11.5 year-old Labrador retriever who has started having some mild to moderate hip arthritis. Especially when she has been dashing across the yard chasing squirrels – which happens a lot at this time of year. The vet has suggested laser therapy. Has anyone tried it for their pets? Did it help?


  11. I don’t have time to read the rest of the posts but I saw the thing about the dogs not being well and was concerned. I will catch up. Between pet sitting and having to do my taxes, I am so overwhelmed right up. Kale is high in oxalate. That could be forming crystals. Look up vegetables that are low in oxalate. I know this because of my own kidney stones. I can’t eat anything high in oxalate. Saying prayers for Jelly and no recurrence.

    Miss you guys. I’ll be back. Life is just insane right now.

  12. Joe Ask:”I guess the question would be “How?” – especially after it appears they wiped out a colony”

    I don’t know but they never try. When the fleet shows up they just start killing them. The book just never mentions trying to, It becomes more of a problem for me in the second book.

  13. @ Nathaniel – No worries. Joey’s blog veterans such as myself completely understand your original post, and we can giggle over it long after the sneaky li’l bugger’s gone in there and fixed it. (It sometimes pays to quote his errors before he gets a chance to fix them…also, saving them to your own computer works well, too, especially for insurance and/or blackmail purposes should the need arise. 😉 )

    Also Nathaniel, you get special kudos for getting stone-faced Joey to use a smiley face. That’s pure gold right there. 🙂


  14. Yeah Puppy power!! glad to hear good news for the babies. And Lulu may need more hugs or a visit from her boyfriend to cheer her up, or maybe a change in the weather affects her mood?!? or maybe Akemi will make more puppy treats…

  15. Joseph Mallozzi
    Don’t know what you’re talking about. 🙂

    Ya know…just saving it for posterity and/or blackmail before you delete the smiley. 😉


  16. On other subjects:

    1. Glad the spoiled kid didn’t get her way in court. Finally a court that has a brain on its shoulders.

    2. What the friggin’ what Massachusetts? Upskirt photos are legal? Yeah, okay…the courts are right back to where they usually are – brains up the butthole.

    3. Not sure about dogs, but crystals in cat urine are very common, with some cats developing a chronic urinary condition. In a recent study it was found that what was once thought to be the culprit – ash (magnesium) – didn’t seem to matter, but increasing water intake DID have a positive effect (although ash content didn’t seem to matter, maintaining a good ph . Here are the recommendations for cats with crystals in their urine (NOTE: I did find this on a pet food site, so make of it what you will):

    ……1. Feed exclusively canned food. This has been proven to be the most effective way to increase water intake in cats.

    ……2. Increase the frequency of feeding. Cats fed several times each day drink more than cats fed only one meal.

    ……3. Add additional water or broth to your cat’s food. If you have a cat that absolutely refuses canned food, adding water to dry food can be hugely beneficial.

    ……4. Try ice cubes or ice chips as “treats”

    ……5. Use unique water bowls or provide free flowing water fountains to stimulate your cat’s interest in drinking.

    4. Pets often reflect the attitudes of their people. Perhaps your winter ‘blues’ have rubbed off on your furry friends. Perhaps you all need some sort of stimulation: new toys, new adventures, new routines. Mix things up a bit and see what happens!

    5. I need to start taking my own advice. 😛


  17. Ugh – got distracted mid-thought there on the ph thing. Sorry about that (damn phone call!). What I meant to say was: “…although ash content didn’t seem to matter, the feeding of a “pH neutral” diet that avoids extremes of urine pH were also proven to be of benefit, according to the study.”

    Sorry about that.


  18. Yippee for the good surgery results. Good job Jelly. I hope Bubba is feeling better soon.

    @Ponytail: Great idea. I bet a visit from Ivon will cheer her up.

  19. Glad to hear Jelly’s on the mend and that the procedure worked! Sorry the other two pups aren’t their usual selves.

    In response to Kathode about the stairs: I caught that, too, but passed it as less of a physical regiment and more that he probably had to go up and down those stairs several times a day, so in having to run very fast to avoid the hoodlum rats or even perhaps running from them, he got his “exercise”.

    I really hope some of the people who have already read the next book provide some answers. I am curious (if not curious enough to pick up the next book myself, ha).

  20. Yay for Jelly! I concur, too much banana and not enough sunshine. A little Cancun or Vegas, perhaps?

  21. Hey… I posted the spoiled brat link and a friend posted this.. now I have to go look closer. While I don’t think anyone should have a LEGAL responsibility for a child after age 18 unless funds are LEGALLY the child’s (ie trust fund, inheritance etc)… This puts a big new spin on the spoiled part:
    >>I think it’s more complicated than this story says. I read another story (which I’m not going to try to find now) that says her mother confronted her at her current private school, and the confrontation so frightened some faculty or staff at the school that they advised her not to return home. She *has* an educational fund, although it’s one they set up for her, and I don’t know whose name its in. It was already being used for her high school tuition, which the parents have stopped paying. She didn’t file the suit all by herself; her school suggested she move in with the family she’s currently living with, including a man who is a prominent attorney (<<

  22. Yay for Jelly!!!! I smile every time I remember the pic of her riding in the stroller. Do you get a lot of positive comments when people see her strolling?

    It will be interesting to see what caused the crystals. I’m assuming you will try eliminating things from his diet to see what caused it?

    I agree with Ponytail: Lulu is just pining for her beau. 😉 (I hope that’s all it is)

    Everyone had great questions about ToE! I agree the second book should have been combined with the first one. It will address some of the shortfalls commenters mentioned. I’m trying hard not to give any spoilers.

    I been following Kloos’s tweets and he mentioned something about a third book. It doesn’t sound like he’s started writing it though. 🙁

    I bought Old Man’s War for hubby (I’ll read it later). Positive comments from hubby so far.

    I started Annihilation and I believe I’m going to like it.

    G’day all!

  23. Oh and about the spoiled kid, I wonder if the parents have a contract with her school? If so, they might have to pay off the year’s tuition. My son’s private school contract is like that. If we move, or he gets kicked out then his tuition is forfeit-we pay for the whole year or else. Sometimes, we buy tuition insurance, if we think hubby might get relocated. I agree with the judge about throwing out the case but wondered about the school contract.

  24. Sounds like it may be too much sugar in Bubba’s diet. Sugar cause a change in the PH of the urine which in turn can cause crystals.
    So glad to hear that Jelly is doing well, and the margins are clear on the tumor removal.

  25. I’m so glad to hear that Jelly’s results came back so positive! I wonder if the other pups are just tired of Winter and it’s reflecting in their attitude. (Although, I may be just projecting.) Do they get out for the usual number of walks and scampers? Maybe they could learn a few tricks to keep them mentally stimulated!

    Did I mention I’m sick of Winter? (Said after two straight mornings of -30C windchill.) But, it looks like the weekend is warming up. To freezing! 🙂

  26. @das I agree with you about canned food, feeding several times a day and free-flowing water fountains. Cats usually enjoy on demand, moving water as opposed to static bowls of it. Perhaps try this for your pups.
    Joe, you may also try a water filter. Either an appliance mounted on your main water line or by the pitcher. Zero-water or Brita seem to do a good job filtering out lots of crap in the so-called clean water. There are probably other ones as well.
    As for the Bubba and Lulu blues, it may be lack of vitamin D. That good old sunshine (in moderation) has marvelous health benefits. Would they sit still for awhile under a lamp?

    Good news for Jelly! The fact you noticed the lump and quickly acted was instrumental. She’s looking mah-vel-ous darling.

    Basil and Stash =^–^=

  27. Also, if/when we start the Cookie Monster movie reviews again, we really need to do this one:

  28. Hi Joe, Akemi and everybody else !!
    thank you for the much waited for Jelly update.. with news on Lulu and Bubba.. about Bubba and the water thing.. our kitty only gets bottled water.. be careful not to use plastic bottles that have been laying around in the heat for a few days.. they are also carcinogenic i am afraid… we do that because medication are not filtred out of tap water.. and they regularly mix the sewers water with tap water where I live, which has resulted in several children’s death a few years ago, and various diseases.. not to mention chloring, fluorine and other chemicals that were also used int the Nazi camps for crowd control reasons.. i will say no more…. on this topic for now.. hope both Lulu and Bubba have been supportive of Jelly and hence, they also needing attention and vets visits 🙂
    Hugs, and apologies for not reading the book .. doing post grad research, and working full time is enough reading for me right now. but i would love to participate at some point. So for now, I shall await the Akemi SGA reviews to express myself 🙂
    that’s it. enough about me! hugs x

  29. Any dog lovers, catch my cousin’s daughter Megan and her pooch Odie on Good Morning America on Friday. She and others will be on paddle boards, canoes, etc. in an event called Paddlin’ and Pups on Florida Bay in the Florida Keys held to bring awareness of a group called MarrVelous Pets, which fosters pets til they can get into a forever home.

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