Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trader Joes is My New Favorite Grocery Store

Trader Joe's has long been my favorite grocery store because of healtier choices, and better prices, but I recently found more reasons to love them.

I was on a special diet for one week to test for food sensitivity and allergies.  I was pleasantly surprised to find almost everything I needed at Trader Joe's.  I walked out with two big bags of groceries for around $40.00.

But it gets better...

Good News about Non-GMO

As I was testing different foods, I was concerned about genetically engineered food sources, also known as GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), so I went to the Trader Joe's website to ask about their products.  Here is their reply:


Thank you for your email. Our approach to Genetically Modified Organisms is simple: we do not allow GMO ingredients in our private label products (anything with Trader Joe's, Jose's, Ming's, etc. on the label).

When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product in question perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources.

This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

In addition to this work done in developing a given item, we perform random audits of items with suspect ingredients, using an outside, third-party lab to perform the testing.

Given our position on GMO ingredients in Trader Joe's label products and the work done in support of that position, it is our expectation that our products test as non-GMO.

We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling.

Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect and based upon customer feedback, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe's label encompasses.

We're unable to make the same claims for branded products. Organic products, regardless of brand, are by definition non-GMO.

We appreciate your understanding,
Customer Relations

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 4:02 PM
To: Web Customer Relations
Subject: Trader Joe's Product Information Form
Name:Scott M
Phone Number:
Email Address:
Your Trader Joe's: ...
Product Name:Corn or Canola Oil
Sku #:
Date Code:

Comments:  I understand that GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) sources are used for many oils in the US. I would like to know if any of your Corn, Soy, or Canola Oil uses Non-GMO sources. Thanks for continuing to provide the best products at good prices.

 Label Genetically Modified Foods

OK, so what's all this talk about Proposition 37, and the right to know what is in our food?

Check out the website for more info:

  • More than 90% of Americans want to know if their food as been genetically modified.
  • If Genetically Engineered food is so "safe," then why not label the foods?  Aren't they proud of their accomplishments?
  • Over 1 Million Californians signed the petition to get this on the ballot
  • For the first time, it is possible for a state to make a difference because voter initiated propositions are able bypass any corruption.
  • If enough people refuse to eat GM food, markets, manufacturers, and farmers will have to give us better alternatives
  • Sure, it's not perfect, but anything is better then what we have had for years.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This "RSA Animate" provides some insight into what drives software engineers to create software such as Linux, and give it away for free.  This seems to imply that giving back is a reward in itself, but in the back of the developer's mind there could also be the idea that he may become famous some day, and that the money will follow.  As a systems administrator / developer, I tend to agree with the idea that becoming an expert does not always require any compensation, and it feels good to help fellow sysadmins and computer users.  The knowledge itself is valuable, and can be turned into a business at some point.  For example practicing a musical instrument, or learning to cook well for no monetary reward can be fun, but is also something to fall back on.

 RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

These are fun to watch, whether or not you agree with the speaker, or the ideas presented.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Foxtails are Dangerous to Dogs

Foxtails, and similar plants have no place in a community where dogs are present!

Having grown up on the east coast, I had never heard of the plants commonly referred to as foxtails.  When I first saw these beautiful plants in our new townhouse community, I thought they looked nice, although they do tend to get overgrown fairly quickly.

Nice Colored Plants, but Dangerous for Pets!

My Dog's Experience with Foxtails

Maybe these are not technically considered foxtail weeds that grow in the wild, but when my dog got one of the spikelets caught in her nose, she started sneezing uncontrollably for hours.  We didn't realize what it was at first, and thought it would clear up on it's own, but when she kept sneezing, we thought it best to take her to the vet.  It's a good thing we did, because we later found out how dangerous these barbs can be.  She had to have anesthesia in order to have it removed.  We were fortunate that it did not get any further into her body, but it was still a surgical procedure that cost over $100.  Sadly, it happened again, since the plants were right outside our front gate, and the pieces would blow onto our porch where she would sniff them.  Again we were fortunate that our vet was able to remove them before they could do any more serious damage.

We asked the HOA to remove the plants near our entrance.  They responded quickly, and it solved her problem, but there are still other plants in the area, so I am concerned for other dogs.  I also have to be careful walking near these plants wherever they are, not to mention the barbs that have blown from them.  Builders, land owners and landscapers really should be aware of the dangers of these plants, and stop using them.


Foxtail type plants getting dry and overgrown
Here are some articles with some excerpts that I found by doing a quick google search: "foxtails dogs"

Protecting Your Dog Against Foxtails

Foxtails can wind up virtually anywhere in the body, and associated symptoms vary based on location. For example, a foxtail within the ear canal causes head shaking, under the skin a draining tract, or within the lung, labored breathing and coughing. Not only is the dog’s body incapable of degrading or decomposing foxtails, these plant awns are barbed in such a way that they can only move in a "forward" direction.

Foxtail (diaspore) - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They can become a health hazard for dogs and other domestic animals, and a nuisance for people.

Worst weeds for dogs? Foxtails are just a start

"They’re horrible! They’re a nightmare!" said Kay, who estimates that in summer, the emergency room of the animal hospital where she works in Northern California might see 60 to 90 cases a month involving foxtails.

Home Remedies for Dogs With Porcupine Quills and Foxtails

The best remedy for foxtails is to avoid them completely. If you notice them in your yard, remove them or use a weed killer. Be sure to inspect your dog's coat thoroughly after hiking, including between his toes. If you find even the smallest sliver, remove it as soon as possible to prevent it from moving deeper into his coat.

Foxtail Grass Dangerous to Dogs

If you have dogs, keep the foxtail out of your lawn!

The seeds found in the ears, eyes and nose are very serious and can become life threatening.

Foxtails - A Deadly Summertime Danger

They can easily become lodged between a dogs toes, in its ears, and in its eyes. Since the seeds are barbed like a fish hook, they can be very difficult to remove. Once embedded, foxtail seeds cause severe infections and abcesses.


It seems that all these articles share the same opinion of how horrible these plants are.  I have to agree.  I was once a fan of their beauty for landscaping, but not anymore.  It's just not worth the pain.

Miniture Schnauzer Puppy Pictures - Our dog Lola as a puppy

Lola at puppy class graduation
Lola passing her final exam at puppy class! - 11/23/2010
 Some people think it would be nice to rescue an animal, and that is certainly a noble act.  What they may not realize is that the animal turns out to be the one rescuing them!

Lola at 3 months, playing
Lola at 3 months - 07/05/2010
Who rescued whom?

Lola at 3 months, lying down
Typical Schnauzer puppy, with the hind legs spread out.

We has just lost our 22 year old cat, so Lola came when we most needed her.  The enthusiasm and energy of a puppy was just what we needed to get outside and get a little exercise.

Miniature schnauzers have lot's of energy, but they get tired faster than some of the typical larger breeds.  She like to take short breaks before continuing to run around like a maniac.

Lola at 3 months, looking cute
Cute schnauzer puppy pose

The long hair needs to be brushed frequently if thee is any dry plants or bugs around, but she's still cute even with the fur all messed up.

Lola at 3 months, lovable look
Still not sure if I can trust anyone yet.

 Schnauzers are usually very suspicious of strangers.  Although she felt right at home, it took several months before she felt she could trust us.
Lola at 4 months, lying in dish
This dish looks like it would make a nice bed.

It's nice to look at old pictures now that she is full grown.  Lola the miniature schnauzer was born on April 1, 2008, and came to our home at 3 months old.

Great Christmas Present in 2009

One of the best Christmas presents I received was a bag of Green Mountain Coffee.

What made it so special, you ask?

Well for one thing, it made me remember my brother every time I made some coffee. Second, I always wanted to try the brand, since I had been following the company on the stock market. Also, the coffee actually tasted good, so I really enjoyed it. Another good thing about consumable items is that it does not create clutter.  And finally, Christmas presents should not be expensive, unless the giver has plenty of money.

I have since had to cut down on coffee consumption for health reasons, but it was certainly enjoyable while it lasted.