Jelly’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.
Bubba, 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?
No 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!