George Rucker's Newsletter for January 10, 2017

Well Met this fine Tuesday,

I am not sure if anyone noticed but the final minute of 2016 had an extra second.  Most would not notice it all.  Me with my watch always within 2 nano seconds of the atomic clock would notice, as I have a time fetish.  I even mention to store owners if their clock is off provided it is more than five minutes.

Why is there an extra second, anyway? It all comes down to the Earth’s rotation. It seems that its rotation speed didn’t line up perfectly with atomic clocks that official timekeepers use, and thus a “leap second” has been formed. Essentially, these leap seconds are just added at the stroke of midnight on June 30 or December 31 whenever an adjustment is necessary. The last leap second we ended up having occurred in June 2015, and you probably didn’t even know about it. Even further back still was the leap second added in June 2012.

These seconds are sometimes necessary because things can get a bit out of whack sometimes. The length of a regular day is governed by how the Earth rotates, but that isn’t always the same, consistent rate. With the Earth rotating slower and slower over the years, the seconds are required to keep things neat and tidy. This year it’s needed, so that extra second is just being slapped on the end there to keep balance with clocks and timekeepers across the globe. It’s really not a big deal, and you won’t notice it, but it’s a cool fact to keep in mind.

Just be careful if you’re superstitious and thinking 2016 might still have some tricks up its sleeve. You never know what nefarious evils that could still occur in that extra second. Anyway this is some great trivia you can tell your family.

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Lemon Poppy seed Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

Salad

    2 heads fresh broccoli ~4 & ½  - 5 cups
    3/4 cup dried cranberries
    ½  cup sliced almonds
    ½  cup toasted and salted sunflower seeds
    1 package (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese

Dressing

    1 cup full-fat mayo
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    2-4 tablespoons sugar depending on sweetness preference
    1 large lemon
    ½  tablespoon poppy seeds


Instructions

    Remove the stems from the broccoli and cut into very small pieces. Fill up a bowl with very cold water and a few cupfuls of ice.

    Bring a pot of water to boiling point. Add in a heaping tablespoon of salt.

    Pour the broccoli into the boiling water and count to 30. As soon as you get to 30 drain the broccoli and pour the broccoli into your prepared ice/water bath.

    Allow the broccoli to sit in the cold water until completely cooled. Then remove with a slotted spoon to a salad spinner or bowl.

    Make sure the broccoli is 100% dried before tossing it with anything else (especially the dressing).

    Add the cranberries, almonds (toast if desired), sunflower seeds, and sharp cheddar cheese (that has been cut into very small cubes) to the bowl with the broccoli.

    In a bowl, whisk together the mayo, red wine vinegar, sugar, zest of one lemon, and about 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

    Add some salt and pepper, taste, and add more sugar (1-2 more tablespoons) or lemon to personal preference (not too much lemon or the dressing becomes too watery)

    Whisk in the poppy seeds.

    Toss the dressing with the salad and place in the fridge to marinate for 15-30 minutes.

    Toss again and enjoy!

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This weeks invention will be the “Locomotive,” in weeks past I wrote about the steam engine, although part of this invention it is not quite the same thing.

It is hard to picture the classic image of a steam engine locomotive flying across the Western landscape, transporting freight or bringing passengers to new destinations.

Locomotion No. 1 riding on the success of the steam engine, the first “traveling engine” was developed by George Stephenson in 1814.  Combining his knowledge of tramways with the new steam engine, Stephenson built the Blucher to haul coal.  Moving at 4 mph, the engine was slower than a horse but could carry 30 tons.  Although people marveled at the new mode of transportation, the Bulcher was plagued with repeated breakdowns and problems, inspiring Stephenson to improve the design.  The first public railway opened in England in 1825, Traveling along those cast-iron rails was the Locomotion, driven by Stephen himself.  The distance between the rails was set at 4 feet, 8 inches, creating the standard for all railways to come.

Railroad cars, pulled by an engine that converts power and transmits it to driving wheels, were first created in 1829 and ran exclusively on steam power until World War II.  Then in the 1950s, the diesel engine replaced many of the archaic steam engines, and diesel power still propels most trains today, due to its low operating costs, lower energy use and higher speeds.

The transcontinental railroad’s initial appeal was that it connected the coasts of a large continent compressing the trip by horse-drawn coach from a drawn-out, dangerous, three-month ordeal to a convenient and luxurious 10 days aboard a fashionable Pullman sleeping car.  It revolutionized personal travel, but it also allowed for the efficient transit of goods across a large landscape, allowing for the development of the American West.

Today, some locomotives are powered by overhead wires that pass electricity to propel the vehicle, especially in high-speed passenger situations.

Even still, the use of locomotives in the United States has steeply declined over the years, as American commuters, voyagers, and traders alike made the transition from passenger and freight service by train to personal automobiles, corporate trucks and sprawling interstates.  However, we still use locomotives for bulk shipments of materials like coal.

Advocates hope to see the return of passenger trains, especially as global warming feeds the desire to cut back on the number of cars on the road.

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Tenses

Teacher: Today, we're going to talk about the tenses. Now, if I say "I am beautiful", which tense is it?

Student: Obviously it is the past tense.

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It's a summer holiday weekend and a man walks into a butcher shop that has a sign in the window saying "Ground Sirloin: 29 cents per pound."

The man says, "I'm having a cookout this weekend. I'd like 5 pounds of your ground sirloin, please."

The butcher shakes his head and says, "Sorry. I'm all out."

The man, disappointed goes down the street to another butcher shop and asks, "How much is your ground sirloin?"

The proprietor replies, "It's $3.29 per pound."

"Three twenty nine!?!" exclaimed the customer. "Just up the street he sells it for 29 cents!"


The butcher smiles calmly at the gentleman and asks, "Does he have any?"

"No. He's out of it right now."

"Well," says the butcher. "When I don't have any, I can sell it for 19 cents per pound!"

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An elderly man on a Moped, looking about 90 years old, pulls up next to a Doctor at a street light.  The old man looks over at the sleek shiny car and asks, "What kind of car ya got there, sonny?"

The doctor replies, "A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars!"

"That's a lot of money," says the old man. "Why does it cost so much?"

"Because this car can do up to 220 miles an hour!" states the doctor proudly.

The Moped driver asks, "Mind if I take a look inside?"

"No problem," replies the doctor.

So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Then, sitting back on his Moped, the old man says, "That's a pretty nice car, all right.... But I'll stick with my Moped!"

Just then the light changes, so the doctor decides to show the old man just what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 150 mph.

Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer !

He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly WHOOOOSSSHHH! Something whips by him going much faster!

"What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?" the doctor asks himself.

He presses harder on the accelerator and takes the Ferrari up to 180 mph.

Then, up ahead of him, he sees that it's the old man on the Moped!

Amazed that the Moped could pass his Ferrari, he gives it more gas and passes the Moped at 200 mph and he's feeling pretty good until he looks in his mirror and sees the old man gaining on him AGAIN!

Astounded by the speed of this old guy, he floors the gas pedal and takes the Ferrari all the way up to 220 mph.

Not ten seconds later, he sees the Moped bearing down on him again! The Ferrari is flat out, and there's nothing he can do !

Suddenly, the Moped plows into the back of his Ferrari, demolishing the rear end.

The doctor stops and jumps out and unbelievably the old man is still alive.  He runs up to the banged-up old guy and says, "I'm a doctor... Is there anything I can do for you ?"

The old man whispers,

"Unhook my suspenders from your side view mirror!"

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CANGAS DE ONIS, Spain (Reuters) - With more than 100,000 people aged 100 or over, Spain is the country with the greatest life expectancy after Japan, OECD data and the latest population census shows.

Over a year, Reuters photographer Andrea Comas interviewed and photographed Spaniards aged 100 or more across the country from the green-hilled northern region of Asturias to the Balearic island of Menorca.

Average life expectancy at birth in Spain is 83.2, according to the latest OECD statistics made available in 2013, just a shade below the 83.4 years on average a Japanese newborn can expect to live.

Most of the men and women Comas interviewed showed a zest for life and an interest in pastimes from amateur dramatics to playing the piano. Many also continued to carry out daily duties from farm work to caring for a disabled child.

Pedro Rodriguez, 106, plays the piano every day in the living room of his flat in Asturias, northern Spain, where he lives with his wife who is nearly 20 years younger than him. Their daughters visit them often.

"The nuns taught me how to play the piano as a child," he said after giving a rendition of a Spanish waltz.

The majority of these elderly people were surrounded by family or had loved ones calling in on them daily showing how Spain continues to be a closely-knit society, where family ties are paramount.

CIVIL WAR

Francisco Nunez, 112, is the oldest person Comas interviewed. He lives with his octogenarian daughter in his house in Badajoz, south-western Spain. He says he doesn't like the pensioners' daycare center because it's full of old people.

"He hasn't had to leave his home. I'm single and I live here with him," says daughter Maria Antonia Nunez, 81, as she adjusts his beret.

When questioned about their most vivid memories, many recall Spain's 1936 to 1939 civil war which set neighbor against neighbor and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths followed by the 36-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Pilar Fernandez, 101, suffered hunger and hardship during the war years alongside her nine brothers and sisters. To avoid history repeating itself, she limited herself to one child.

"From pure fear, I didn't have any more," says the sprightly woman who lives with her daughter's family in Asturias and tends livestock and a vegetable garden.

Tips for long life ranged from a spoonful of honey a day to regular intake of gazpacho, a traditional cold Spanish soup made from tomatoes and cucumbers.

Gumersindo Cubo, 101, from Avila, puts his longevity down to a childhood spent in a house in the woods with his eight brothers and sisters, where his father was a park ranger.

"It's from inhaling the pine resin from the woods where I lived as a child," he says, telling of how his mother would put a jar of the resin under the bed of the sick.

Where to buy pine resin: Both Ebay and Amazon have it and it is not expensive.

Make sure your honey is not pasturized as the good stuff gets killed during the heating process of pasteurization.

For gazpacho the cold soup recipe many are on line but I will put one here for those that are not connected.  Not my favorite but I might now change my mind.

Gazpacho

"Wonderful cold soup full of fresh Mediterranean vegetables! Quick and easy."
Ingredients

    4 cups tomato juice
    1 onion, minced
    1 green bell pepper, minced
    1 cucumber, chopped
    2 cups chopped tomatoes
    2 green onions, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon dried tarragon
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon white sugar
    salt and pepper to taste

Directions

    In a blender or food processor, combine tomato juice, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, tarragon, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until well-combined but still slightly chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

OK. . . Patty and I both tried this soup and find it pretty good, two thumbs up.  On the internet it gets 4.5 stars.

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Last Wednesday while returning from Boston, Patty and I stopped at Harry’s Bar and Grille, located on route 28, Middleboro MA, Rt. 28 in Middleboro is called West Grove St., for your GPS it would be 407 W Grove St.  It is just across the road from Dave’s Diner.  We found the food to be above average pub food, with large portions, actually enough for two meals.  It was not overly expensive and the wait staff was attentive.  I recommend the place to my readers.

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Obama Awards Himself Distinguished Public Service Medal

 (Breitbart) On Wednesday, President Obama added another prestigious medal to his Nobel Prize collection when he had Defense Secretary Ash Carter award him with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

Secretary Carter awarded his boss with the medal on January 4 during the Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review for the President held at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Carter insisted that the medal was a token of appreciation for Obama’s service as commander in chief, the Associated Press reported.

After spending the last few weeks throwing roadblocks in the path of President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team, Obama nonetheless claimed in his remarks to the members of the military in attendance that “We’ve got to make sure that during this transition period that there is a seamless passing of the baton, that there’s continuity.”

Along with the AP, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller also marked the ceremony with a Tweet to his followers.

    Defense Secy Carter presents Pres Obama with Dept of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. pic.twitter.com/a5DihpPRnA

I found this to be a little over the top.  That was until I went to see if it had happened before and found the following.

In January 2009, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave outgoing President George W. Bush the award at a similar ceremony. Then-Defense Secretary William S. Cohen did the same with President Bill Clinton in January 2001.

I think this is similar to the Air Force award for commanders called the “Order of the Sword.”   In 20 years I knew only one Colonel to get this award, Sharman Stevensson,.  He was the 13th AF Commander (PACAF).   The Order of the Sword recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps. This is an award that is presented by non-commissioned officers to a superior officer.

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The Girl on the Beach

A couple lived near the ocean and used to walk the beach a lot.

One summer they noticed a girl who was at the beach pretty much every day. She wasn't unusual, nor was the travel bag she carried, except for one thing; she would approach people who were sitting on the beach, glance around furtively, then speak to them.

Generally the people would respond negatively and she would wander off, but occasionally someone would nod and there would be a quick exchange of money and something she carried in her bag.

The couple assumed she was selling drugs, and debated calling the cops, but since they didn't know for sure they just continued to watch her.

After a couple of weeks the wife said, "Honey, have you ever noticed that she only goes up to people with boom boxes and other electronic devices?"

He hadn't and said so.

Then she said, "Tomorrow I want you to get a towel and our big radio and go lie out on the beach. Then we can find out what she's really doing."

Well, the plan went off without a hitch and the wife was almost hopping up and down with anticipation when she saw the girl talk to her husband and then leave.

The man walked up the beach and met his wife at the road.

"Well? Is she selling drugs?" she asked excitedly.

"No, she's not," he said, enjoying this probably more than he should have.

"Well? What is it, then? What does she do?" his wife fairly shrieked.

The man grinned and said, "She's a battery salesperson."

"Batteries?" cried the wife.

"Yes," he replied.

"She sells C cells by the sea shore."

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George

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