Bread, bread everywhere and not a crumb to eat!

It was 10 years ago this month that I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease; a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

In short, to stay healthy I had to switch to a gluten free diet. Over the past decade I’ve got pretty adept at handling it, and when people ask about eating out, or how I handle finding the right stuff to eat when I travel, I usually respond with a glib “Oh no problem, I can always find something.”

And that was pretty much true – until last week.

Last Sunday I had to fly out to San Jose for business – nothing unusual in that – and had planned my meals around my travel. Late breakfast then head to airport. Grab lunch during my stop over in Los Angeles; then dinner either at my hotel, or a nearby restaurant in the evening.

Ah the best laid plans….

Let’s pick up the story in Los Angeles, where I had to transfer by bus from the main American Terminal, well stocked with restaurants, to the American Express terminal. My impressions as I posted it on Twitter at the time: “American Eagle ghetto terminal at LAX is the pits! Not enough seats and only refreshment is from vending machines! Should be a warning sign before you get on the shuttle bus from other terminals that says: Beware No Starbucks Beyond This Point!”

In short nothing I could eat!

Well I can skip one meal, with the promise of a good restaurant meal in the evening.

Arrived at the hotel to find that their restaurant would only be open for breakfast, but had noticed a shopping plaza across the street that boasted several restaurants. So check in, dump my bags, and head out in search of sustenance.

I’ll let my Twitter stream take up the narrative once again:

“Plaza across street from hotel has 5 restaurants, 4 of which don’t open on a Sunday! Guess I’m eating at the Sonoma Chicken Coop!”

“Hey Sonoma Chicken Coop, throwing a free slice of Pizza on the plate of someone who is a celiac, not really the “treat” you thought it to be.”

After a lengthy explanation to an indifferent manager as to why this wasn’t a good idea for me, got them to remake my “meal” of indifferent roast chicken and mash.  Not exactly a successful day food wise, but at least I had a cooked breakfast to look forward to in the morning.

Guess again, Porter.

It seems that as the occupancy rate was on the low side the hotel had decided not to offer a cooked breakfast, but was proud to offer a continental breakfast of pastries, waffles, toast, and cereals. – Gee thanks for nothing! This despite the large sign in the lobby promoting the choice of eggs and other goodies for breakfast and the personalized note of welcome I’d got at check in that also mentioned the availability of a cooked breakfast. There was no other restaurants / diners within walking distance (no car this trip), so I grabbed what I could from the fruit on offer to at least give me some sort of start to the day.

After a morning of meetings someone suggested going to the local bakery for lunch (gulp!). “No problem” they explained, “they do salads as well.”

And true enough there were several salads on the blackboard, so I ordered a cob salad (one of my regular orders). And waited, and waited, and waited… The salad took so long that I was getting close to having to leave to grab my cab back to the airport for my afternoon flight. I wandered up to the counter, asked if the salad was on the horizon and could they pack it to go. Sure enough just as I got a call that my cab was waiting I was handed a brown paper bag containing my salad.

Once settled in the cab and en-route to the airport, I eagerly and hungrily opened the bag to find the long awaited cob salad – with a stack of croutons and a bread roll neatly deposited on top! – No way I could eat that.

By the time I was checked in and got through security I was shaking with hunger. Thank goodness for the Mexican Cantina by the departure gate. Carnitas Tacos on Corn Tortillas never tasted so good, or disappeared so fast!

Now I usually travel with a few GF snack bars in case I need to cover one meal, or extend the time between finding some food. But I’ve never had a 24 hours like that, where it proved almost impossible to get something to eat.

In future, I think I need to change my glib answer to “Oh no problem, I can always find something. Unless it’s in San Jose!”





Indexing Winge

I’ll be the first to admit it. I hate indexing my own work. Over the years I’ve learned it’s a particular skill and mind set that I don’t have.

But as someone who spends a lot of time doing research, I rely on the fact that others have that skill.

Yet it seems the quality of indexing is on the decline. An alarming amount of non-fiction books published today don’t have any indexes at all (and I’ll admit to being guilty on that count with some of my works), while others have indexes that are close to useless.

Here’s just two examples from this week.

Early in the week I posted on Twitter about a book that was on it’s third edition yet the index contained production notes such as “??see PDFs??” instead of actual page numbers.

Today I picked up a book on the history of jet-packs that references both James Bond and Buck Rogers on the back cover blurb, yet neither name appears in the index (and they aren’t mentioned in any Chapter titles either). I was interested to see what level of coverage and mentions these two pop culture icons got before deciding if I needed to add this volume to my bookcase. Sorry DaCapo press you just lost a sale.

DilloCon fast approaching

August already, and that means it’s almost time for one of my favorite weekends of the year, ArmadilloCon.

The provisional schedule is up and it looks like I’ll be on the following panels:

Friday, August 26th

  • 5:00pm – The Magic of Collaboration.
  • 9:00pm – What’s New with Doctor Who?

Sunday, August 28th

  • 10:00am – Fans in the Mainstream Media: Big Bang Theory, etc.
  • 12:00pm – Secret History
  • 1:00pm – Flaming Nacelles & Giant Snails – My slideshow on Star Trek comics

Looking forward to it.

The full program grid can be found HERE.




Cars, cars,,,

As our friends will attest to, we change our cars on a fairly regular basis. While archiving my old LiveJournal account I came across a post from 2007 where I listed all the cars we have owned since I first started driving, and thought it was about time I updated the list.

So here we have it, proof of my car obsession and my inability to keep driving the same vehicle for too long.

In order of ownership


  • Ford Escort MkII
  • Triumph Spitfire Mk III
  • Triumph Dolomite Sprint
  • Ford Cortina Mk IV
  • Mini 1000
  • Peugeot 205
  • Peugeot 309 ST
  • Peugeot 205 GTi
  • Rover 216 GT
  • Rover MG Montego Turbo
  • Ford Sierra GL
  • Ford Serria GT
  • Fiat Panda
  • Mini Cooper S
  • Citroen Xantia TD


  • Pontiac Sunfire
  • Pontiac Montana
  • Ford Mustang convertible
  • MINI Cooper S
  • Chevrolet Avalanche
  • Ford Mustang Convertible
  • Pontiac Vibe
  • Honda Ridgeline.
  • Honda Civic
  • JCW MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Clubman
  • Honda Fit
  • Fiat 500 C
28 cars in 34 years of driving – is that too much?


The Weekly Haul – 8/3/11 – What comics I picked up this week and why.

Haven’t done this since February, but it’s about time I got back to doing it. So with out any acclaim or fanfare whatsoever, a look at what made it into the stack of four-color fun I bought home from Austin Books this week.

Elric: The Balance Lost #2 (BOOM!) – Interested to see where Chris Roberson is taking the Michael Moorcock multiverse concepts and characters. He shows a real understanding of them here.

Essential Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t have a complete run of the classic Lee/Ditko Spider-Man issues in my comics library. That oversight has now been rectified thanks to the reissue of this first Essentials volume.

Heroes For Hire #10 (Marvel) – This is the book closest to the classic Marvel action I used to love. Just superheroes teaming up to catch the bad guys – it’s that simple, and its so much fun.

House of Mystery #40 (DC/Vertigo) – Just a couple of months left for this innovative and thought provoking series by my buddy, Matt Sturges. I’ve been there since before issue #1, and I’ll be there to the end.

The Infinite #1 (Image) – I normally wouldn’t have touched this with a cattle prod due to the name on the art credits, Rob Liefeld. But I heard writer Robert Kirkman (He of “The Walking Dead” fame) talking about the book, the time-travel premise, and his ideas for it on a recent podcast, and he sold me enough to pick up the first issue.

Punisher #1 (Marvel) – I really don’t like The Punisher as a character or as a concept, yet I picked the first issue of his new series up. Why? Simply because Greg Rucka is writing it, and none do urban, gritty thrillers any better. Let’s see if one of my favorite writers can change my mind about Frank Castle?

Rachel Rising #1 (Abstract) – A new series from talented Terry Moore.  Do I need say any more?

Red Skull Incarnate #2 (Marvel) – Stunningly designed and evocative covers, a well scripted story by Greg Pak examining the psyche of one of the Marvel Universe’s most perverse bad guys, all interwoven with the rise of Nazi influence in Germany during the 1930s equals one of the most intriguing “superhero” books on the stands at the moment.

Retro-Active (DC Comics) – Lumping these books together as one. I’m really enjoying these nostalgia themed books from DC using classic writers and artists. In fact I’m enjoying them more than the current mainstream DC Universe books. This week picked up 1980s era Flash, Batman, and Wonder Woman books. And the best part of these books – the newsprint pages. They look, feel, and smell like a comic book should. Way better than the modern slick glossy pages.

Superman #714  (DC Comics)- The end of an era as this is the last issue of the current Superman title that started the whole super-hero thing off back in the 1930s/40s. I’d have picked it up anyway as I’m really been enjoying Chris Roberson’s take on the Man of Steel, and he had me picking up the Superman books on a regular basis for the first time in years. It’s a shame DC didn’t carry his vision over to the new DCU relaunch next month.

Zorro Rides Again #1 (Dynamite) – With my penchant for pulp style generational heroes, Zorro has always been among my list of favorites. Over the years some of the comics series have been hits, and some definite misses. But I give each new one a try. Let’s see how this one pans out.

It’s all Michael Palin’s fault…

Why am I doing this? Do I really need another place to waffle online? Let’s see I already have:

Not to mention various blogs:

And then there’s the writing projects: two active book contracts, with another one to follow. Several in-development comics pitches, at least three publishers waiting on sample chapters for book proposals, two novels in various stages of work; oh yeah and some consulting work too. And then there’s the day job….

Why on earth do I need to be starting a new blog? And why now?

A few month’s ago I decided it was time to close down my old LiveJournal account. I haven’t updated it on a regular basis for months, and the future of LJ is looking more and more shaky. In anticipation of what I see as the eventual collapse of this one time on-line mainstay I’ve started to archive off my old posts dating back to 2002. Of course I couldn’t help stopping to read the odd one or two. And every time I do it reminded me of how much I enjoyed keeping a narrative journal.

I even thought about starting again with the existing LJ account; but to be honest the place had lost its sense of community to the rise of Social Networks. But the idea has kept niggling away at the back of my mind (as things tend to do.)

Then last week I found myself hanging out at BookPeople with an hour to kill and picked up a copy of Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years. I soon found myself drawn into his notes and accounts of the early days of Monty Python. It also gave me the impetuous to decide that I wanted to get back to keeping an actual journal. Twitter and FaceBook are OK for the occasional observation and comment; but they don’t lend themselves to much else beyond that.

So the start of a new month, seemed like a good place as any to have another go at keeping an online journal. My last one lasted about 8 years. I’ve no idea if this one will even last a month.