George Rucker's Newsletter for September 6, 2016

Well Met Everyone,

Finally I received a duck joke.  However, one joke is not enough . . . Here is the duck joke then once more off to the chickens as one does not cut it.

You asked for it!

Duck who fly upside down have quack up!

Sent from my iPhone

My question is what if the duck is a drake?  Oh wait, I just looked up what a female duck is called . . . Result is now posted and forgive me as I am Polish . . .  A male duck is called a drake or sometimes a mallard and the female duck is called a duck, or in ornithology a hen.  Your joke is correct as stated please accept my apology.

Well, well, well . . . a couple of more duck jokes just under the wire.  These are from a friend who was also in the Viet Nam War.   I usually try to finish the letter by Friday so that Patty can spend the weekend checking my spelling and English.

What does a duck with hiccups say?
Quick, quick.

How do you get down off a horse?
You don’t get down off a horse. You get down off a duck!

Perhaps this lack of duck jokes is everyone is just thinking about the upcoming election.  OK here it comes some chicken jokes:

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To prove to the possum that it could be done!

Q: Did you hear about the chicken who could only lay eggs in the winter? A: She was no spring chicken.

The devout cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range.  Three weeks later, a chicken walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth.

The cowboy couldn't believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the chicken's mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, "It's a miracle!"

"Not really," said the chicken. "Your name is written inside the cover."


Just a note to my readers, I can keep these chicken jokes coming almost forever . . . so send me some more duck jokes.


The other day while leaving the YMCA after exercise, one of the people I exercise with mentioned that upon entering a hot closed car there is the possibility of a gas buildup that is unhealthy, particularly that of benzene and would I mention it the problem in one of my future letters.

I thought about the statement in general, especially the benzene part, as for 13 of my life’s working years I was an environmental protection specialist for the Department of Defense.  My experience with benzene is that it was mostly used to increase the flashpoint of fuels, although I thought it might be also used in a drying agent in some plastics or other car parts.  The military uses benzene as an additive to jet fuel, which is added to the fuel just as it is pumped into the aircraft so the flash point will make the fuel easier to burn in the plane.  This addition is added at the last point for safety reasons, so the loading of fuel into the trucks won’t be so dangerous.

When in Viet Nam and we wanted a hot shower we used immersion heaters to heaters the water and JP-4 fuel from the Phantom Jets was readably available but very hard to light.  To get the heater working, we had no pure benzene so we would use gasoline from one of our vehicles to ignite the JP-4 in our heaters.  I now need to Google the information and then see how this interesting story started.

Claim: Automobile components emit dangerous levels of cancer-causing benzene fumes.

Origin:  This item about the dangers of benzene supposedly emitted by automobile components has been widely misunderstood. Many readers have come away from the article with the impression that it warns drivers not to use their cars' air conditioning because the A/C system itself is producing benzene, but what the article actually cautions against is the practice of turning on the air conditioning immediately upon entering an automobile. Motorists should instead, it says, roll down their windows in order to allow accumulated benzene fumes (allegedly emitted by other components, such as dashboards and upholstery) to vent from the car first before closing the windows and turning on the A/C.

But do automobiles really produce potentially cancer-causing levels of benzene? No studies have yet documented that claim to be true.

A 2001 study of commuter exposure (in both cars and buses) in Korean urban areas found some relationship between automobile use and exposure to benzene, but its observations differed from the warning quoted above in some significant areas:

The study found that traveling by automobile increased exposure to a number of deleterious compounds, including benzene, but the primary factor in this regard was the fuel used by the vehicles, not internal components such as dashboards.

The study found that benzene levels were higher in older cars than newer cars, which suggests that the primary factor in automobile benzene levels was not associated with the "new car smell" emitted by components such as dashboards and upholstery.

The study found that exposure levels were significantly higher during the winter months, which suggests that automobile air-conditioning use is not a major factor in benzene exposure.

The Korean study itself did not establish a connection between commuter exposure to benzene and the onset of cancer.

A 2007 German study on "Toxicity of Parked Motor Vehicle Indoor Air" which specifically tested the health effects of emissions from one new and one three-year-old vehicle exposed to "parked in sunshine" conditions found "no apparent health hazard of parked motor vehicles indoor air":

Buters and his colleagues first collected molecules from the air inside a new car and a three-year-old vehicle of the same brand placed under 14,000 watts of light, where temperatures reached up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. They next exposed these compounds to human, mouse and hamster cells grown in lab dishes. These are commonly used to test toxicity.

New car smell does not appear to be toxic, the scientists found. Air from the new car did cause a slight aggravation of the immune response that could affect people with allergies, but the same was not seen with the older vehicle.

(The German study also found the total amount of volatile organic compounds in a new car to be one-tenth the level claimed in the e-mail for benzene alone.)
The ACS similarly noted of this e-mail that:

We found no published studies that confirm the claims of this e-mail. Benzene levels that exceed recommendations for chronic workplace exposures have been observed in some moving cars, but these levels seem unlikely in properly maintained cars.

The e-mail did get one thing right, though: Upon returning to a closed car on warm days, you should open the windows for a minute or so rather than immediately turning on the air conditioning. The reason has nothing to do with benzene levels, however; rather, it's because when a car is parked in the sun with its windows rolled up, that condition can create a greenhouse effect which causes the interior of the vehicle to warm up to a temperature considerably higher than that of the outside air. Opening the windows for a few moments allows for the exchange of hot air from inside the vehicle with cooler air outside, speeding up the process of cooling off the car more than air conditioning alone would.

Last updated: 22 May 2016

Buters, Jeroen T.M. et al.   "Toxicity of Parked Motor Vehicle Indoor Air."
    Environmental Science & Technology.   2 March 2007.

Choi, Charles Q.   "That New-Car Smell? Not Toxic, Study Finds."   6 April 2007.

Lee, Jin-Woo et al.   "Commuter Exposure to Benzene While Traveling in Urban Areas."
    The Science of the Total Environment.   May 2002   (pp. 219-228).

One last item . . . the whole benzene thing with automobiles started in a chain letter started in 2009 and the benzene part of the email was exaggerated  by a factor of 10 or 1000 times more than test results showed.  Perhaps this all started just from an  error in the interpretation of the 2001 test study result findings.


I guess we should write about another one of mankind’s great inventions.  This week we will talk about Cloning.

In the late 1800s, scientists began experimenting and debating weather the genetic information of an animal cell would diminish with each cell division, and weather there was enough DNA inside the resulting split cells to generate new specimens.  In the early 1900s German embryologist Hans Spemann split a two-cell salamander embryo, which then grew into two complete organisms, proving that cells retain the genetic info required for life as they divide.

In 1914, Spemann transferred the nucleus of one cell into an egg without a nucleus, performing the first successful nuclear transfer experiment.  He earned the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1935 for his work, which provided the foundation for the study of cloning.  Over the next three decades, scientific advancements in the field of molecular biology increased public awareness of cloning.

In 1984, using an advanced version of the kind of nuclear transfer first tested by Spemann, Danish scientist Steen Willadsen successfully cloned a sheep from embryonic cells.  It was the first substantiated case of the cloning of a mammal.

Two years later Willadsen cloned a cow using differentiated cells taken from week-old embryos.  The same year, scientist’s Neal First, Randal Prather and Willard Eyestone at the University of Wisconsin also cloned a cow from embryonic cells.

Up to this point, experimentation had centered on embryonic cells.  In 1996, however after 276 unsuccessful attempts, Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell at the Roslin Institute in Scotland made a ground-breaking team; they cloned the first animal from adult cells.  Dolly the sheep was born on July 5, 1996.  The little lamb made history, the cover of Time magazine – and a lot of people nervous.  Replicating an animal from adult cells had opened a universe of possibilities and perhaps perils.  Many feared the ethical implications of cloning adult cells and worried that cloning humans was just a few years away.

In 1997, the United States declared a five-year moratorium on the appropriation of federal funds for human cloning.  Wilmut and Campbell didn’t live in the United States, however and their experimentation continued.  That same year, the pair cloned a Dorset lamb named Polly from skin cells genetically altered to contain a human gene.

In spite of these successes, scientists remained skeptical about the breakthrough without proof the animals had been recreated from differentiated cells (specialized cells from a specific kind of tissue) and not, accidentally, stem cells – that is, undifferentiated cells.  This question was resolved in 2002 when scientists at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology successfully cloned mice from cell specific to the immune system.  Since the cells contained a built-in marker system, scientists were able to distinguish these cells from existing stem cells, thus determining that it is possible to produce a clone using the nucleus of a fully differentiated cell.

Today, in spite of relatively limited success rates, scientists envision one day using cloning to reproduce animals genetically engineered with organs suitable for human transplantation; to help endangered species avoid extinction – or revive an extinct species; and to harvest stem cells from embryos in order to fight disease.


There might not be a Christmas this year as a lightning strike killed 323 of Santa’s reindeer.  He may have to bring the second string or something.  It was reported on the day of the posting of my last letter.

Published August 30, 2016 Associated Press

Lightning strike kills 323 wild reindeer in Norway

The Norwegian Environment Agency has released eerie images showing a jumble of reindeer carcasses scattered across a small area on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. The agency says 323 animals were killed, including 70 calves, in the lightning storm Friday.

Agency spokesman Kjartan Knutsen told The Associated Press it's not uncommon for reindeer or other wildlife to be killed by lightning strikes but this was an unusually deadly event.

"We have not heard about such numbers before," he said Monday.

He said reindeer tend to stay very close to each other in bad weather, which could explain how so many were killed at once.

"I don't know if there were several lightning strikes," he said. "But it happened in one moment."

Knutsen said the agency is now discussing what to do with the dead animals. Normally, they are just left where they fall to let nature take its course, he said.

Thousands of reindeer migrate across the barren Hardangervidda plateau as the seasons change.

I personally find the death of all these animals to be kind of sad . . .  However some of the comments on this article are rather funny.

Why couldn't this have happened to Democrats?


They must have blasphemed Jesus.

Hillary said she will make sure all reindeer are safe from now on

Shame this couldn't happen at a Trump rally.

          A whole lot more than 300 people show up at Trump rallies


That'll teach em' for not letting Rudolph join any of their games!

And on and on and on . . . I guess some people have a sense of humor, at least it seems that Americans do.  Perhaps our glass is more than half full except for that one Trump comment.

Personally I think we have a lot of closet Trump fans.


Politics at it's best!






IFAW confirms sightings of manatee in Cape waters

Posted Aug. 27, 2016 at 6:53 PM

    Although the International Fund for Animal Welfare has yet to see the manatee that has been spotted around the Cape for the past two weekends, it has confirmed sightings off Dowses Beach in Osterville and Oyster Pond in Chatham after receiving photographs and videos of the marine mammal.

    The earliest unconfirmed reports of the manatee came last week when it was spotted off Nantucket, before it was seen off Dowers over the weekend, said Misty Niemeyer, a necropsy coordinator and marine mammal rescue and research member with IFAW.

    After the sightings, IFAW has looked for the manatee but rescuers have yet to see it for themselves. Manatees are normally found off Florida, but this is the third sighting since 2008, Niemeyer said.

    “Here on the Cape it’s not very common,” Niemeyer said of manatee sightings. “We aren't really quite sure what they are doing.”

    The water temperatures are currently warm enough for manatees, she said, so it is not in any immediate danger, other than from predators it could normally see off the coast of Florida. Manatees can stay in groups, but it is not abnormal for them to be found by themselves, Niemeyer said.

    Niemeyer said people should keep a safe distance if they see the manatee and call IFAW's hotline at 508-743-9548.

    Even if IFAW does find the wayward manatee, they will only monitor it and keep track of water temperatures because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over manatees.

    “We will definitely keep a close eye on the situation,” she said.

    Manatees can grow up to more than 14 feet long and weigh more than 3,000 pounds, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Manatees cannot tolerate extended periods of time in waters that are lower than 68 degrees, which largely keeps them in peninsular Florida.

    The West Indian manatee, which is the one commonly found off Florida, is currently listed as endangered, but the wildlife service has proposed to reclassify them to threatened, lower on the endangered species list.

This is from my thoughts. . . 2016 has been an interesting year for the waters around Cape Cod.  We have orcas in our water, the seal population is over 20,000, whales swimming around here earlier than normal, two blue whales spotted to the north and they can grow as long as 100 feet, just an interesting year if you like that sort of thing.  Oh yes, and a pod of dolphins traversed the canal.


Finally reached my goal of page nine, I will see you next week.



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