Genetically Modified Foods

Of the list of things I’m completely against in this world, genetically modifying (GMO) our foods is one of those things that rate up there towards the top. But it’s more insulting in my humble opinion when countries refuse to admit that it is an issue, and don’t require that it be on the label. Not only is this dangerous, it’s sometimes deadly towards those with food allergies. Let me explain.

I’ve had many friends and family over the years with food allergies, from my mother being allergic to chocolate, to friends with peanut allergies, and what a travesty it’d be if I gave the friend with a peanut allergy a strawberry and it killed her. “What???” you say? Yea, me too. But the fact is, it happens, and more often than you might think. In fact do you realize if you live in the United States, in most cases you’re 8–9 times more likely to eat a genetically modified product than you are a non-modified one? It’s true, for instance 86% of all the corn you eat is. And here’s the kicker to me, even if they don’t genetically modify a specific food, it doesn’t mean it’s not modified by other genetically modified crops. Take for instance Canola (93%+ GMO), there have been confirmed instances of honey bees collecting pollen off these genetically modified crops, thereby spreading it to the honey they produce.

Conventional and organic strawberries freeze easily making them go bad quickly. However, genes from arctic fish and peanuts have been introduced to the genetically engineered strawberries. The genes make the strawberries more resistant to frost by causing the strawberry plant to produce a form of antifreeze.

When I was in college at Oregon Tech I had the privilege to take a course entitled “Technology, Society, and Values” by Mark Neupert which I’ll forever give credit for changing the way I view the world. It opened my eyes to what GMO was, to how much it was affecting us, and this was back in 2000? It’s been 11 years, and it’s only gotten worse, so what can we do to stop it? Glad you asked, because there are organizations out there fighting to get this labeled around the world, so consumers can make informed decisions.

I implore you all, please, visit the Just LABEL It! website, take action, take 30 seconds to fill out their form and have an email sent on your behalf showing your support of labeling. You’d be surprised how often these can actually have a lasting impact.

Why yes, I am happy

When you move across the country, it seems the #1 thing people are most interested in finding out about you is if you’re happy. Not what you’re doing, not what you think of the new place, not how you’re adjusting, simply “Are you happy?” Since moving last December, I’ve been asked that question an incalculable number of times, and each time I respond with a “Yes”. And now for public record, for all to see, let me explain why:

For those not familiar with it, I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in December of 2011. Though I’ve discovered most places simply refer to it as “Halifax, Canada”, as there is only one in the country. For those from my home area of Seattle, I’d say think of Halifax as a mini-Seattle, with the waterfront, wonderful food, great pubs, not quite as much to do, but still a great likeness in my eyes. Oh yes, and not nearly as hilly… as I’m sure Erin will attest to from our December visit to Seattle and her absolute hatred of some of the steeper parts of the town.

View Larger Map

Why did I move here? Well, for anyone who knows me, has me on Facebook, or has followed me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard I got married in September of last year, and guess what? This is where my beautiful wife Erin is from, so this is where I moved. It seems to make sense don’t ya think? Yes, it’s much easier for me to leave the USA than it is to get her into it. So we’re living in a quiet little part of the area known as Clayton Park, and I’ve gotten very accustom to the view out of our window. I find the view actually very relaxing, and surprisingly animated. We can see an intersection from the window, and well, like everywhere you’ll ever live, there are good drivers and bad drivers.

The view from our window on a lightly snowing day

While I’m up here I’m not able to work for any Canadian firm, so I’ve researched some online ideas and various other little ideas as far as ways to keep my time productive. So far I’ve been fairly successful on that front, having started work on 3 projects I had meant to get to but previously simply didn’t have the time. In typical Jamie form, I’ve also been geeking out over various things, from working on some new software, to ordering my Raspberry Pi which I can’t wait to have arrive and start messing about with. All in all, I think you’d actually be surprised how busy my average day is even without a traditional job.

For companionship while Erin is at work, there are 2 cats sharing the apartment with us. They keep it an ever-changing world around here, and have already taken to sleeping on my lap blanket (okay, it’s really a snuggie, but I just can’t bring myself to put my arms thru the holes) when it’s not in use. I sadly had to leave the other cats with my mother due to the complexities of moving them not only cross-country and integrating them with these two, but the fact they’d be moving to another country just made it not feasible. But they’ve got a good home, where they’re spoiled, and I get “kitty report” emails. So it’s all for the best.

Both of the cats, in a rare moment of them sharing the bed

So to sum up for those who might be skimming or didn’t catch it, yes I’m very happy. I’m being productive, I’m enjoying this Atlantic coast life, and I truly hope the Canadian government approves my request for permanent residence into this country.

What’s next for me? Well, as 99% of the people I know don’t even wake up until it’s noon or later here, I’m going to resurrect this blog, and keep it up to date with more information about what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, and other random babbling. And with that said, I’ve babbled enough here, so it’s time now for me to get the grocery list ready for our St. Patrick’s day shopping today. Oh yes, there will be Corn beef and Cabbage, and beer… lots of glorious beer.

User Interfaces are Fun

One of the aspects of software development that has always impressed me with its depth is the side that comes with interface design. Over the past 3 months, it’s been on my mind a lot as I’m designing a couple of projects, and one thing that really surprised me is the level of customization that people are accustomed to anymore. Check out this simple question:

What G-Mail theme do you use?

I asked this just about a month and a half ago to my Facebook friends list. The results were actually quite interesting… A programmer? Classic. An airline pilot? No interface (go-go mobile). Someone in medicine? The sunset theme. Someone who has fully embraced their inner child? Ninja theme. Me? The Android theme.

The theme fits the person, in every case, and the more you know about them, the more it makes sense why they’d choose what they’d choose. Heck, I chose mine because I find the colour scheme more calming than the stock one, but it maintains the clean straight forward crispness I seek as a developer. It really got me thinking about when it comes to my work, how much customization to give. Sure, it’s always a nice thing, but when is enough, enough? It’s never something I add early on, and moreover it’s something I only really play with when I have the extra time and am not working on something bigger. But I’m at that point in one project, so I’m trying to think this thru…

As I sat here tonight, attempting to work thru another UI design, this thought process came thru my head, and I must admit I think writing this out helped me a bit. Designs are intended to be simple, but at the same time just customizable enough to allow people to have their own “feeling” without destroying the functionality of the item.

Now granted, I won’t go as far as some people who think that just because a system is customizable that it is an ugly thing by default. But in the end of things, that’s what the people wanted to make it now isn’t it? Hmm, more to think about…

Oh well, just kinda rambling. Hope everyone is well, and I’ll write more later.икониикониПравославни икони