George Rucker's Oracular Newsletter for November 21, 2017

Another Tuesday greetings,

Two weeks ago I had a recipe for Mexican Corn Chicken Chowder.  I found it to be pretty good and better than most corn chowders.  I have met many that do not like any kind of corn chowder so I guess I am talking to those that do.  I however need to mention a couple of things with the recipe that I changed, well one thing anyway.  The recipe calls for one cup of chicken stock or broth and since I only had a 32 ounce box I put the whole thing in.  I did use heavy cream instead of half and half to compensate for the extra broth I guess.

One last point of interest on the chowder, once the cream is incorporated do not let it boil as the soup will curdle.  I knew I should have unplugged my crockpot before leaving the house.  I did however notice that there are a ton of optional additions to serve with this soup, my first bowl was plain just salt and pepper.  In my second I used cut cilantro leaves and it was better than just salt and pepper.  I gave perhaps a quart to my step-son and his wife and received a thumbs-up.

I also tried the soup, my second batch,  with avocado, cilantro and lime.  All were good.

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Since we are on the topic of food, here are some tidbits.  This is from the Food Network Magazine of April of last year.  If you travel in this country and attend sports game you might find this interesting.  Of the 30 Major League stadiums there are nine items that stand out for you to taste test.

The Texas Rangers (Globe Life Park) like most ball parks have hot dogs.  This park sells a cotton candy dog.  It has blue cotton candy and mustard mix over a hot dog.  (Looks disgusting)

The Houston Astros (Minute Maid Park) they serve popcorn chicken in an ice cream cone so you do not need a fork or knife.  It also comes with mashed potatoes and country gravy in the same cone. (Now this actually look pretty good.)

The Baltimore Orioles (Oriole Park at Camden Yards) this is a park I have visited to watch the Red Sox game.  Since MD is noted for crab this park sells crab dip over chips, pretzels and sausages, but the crowd favorite is over waffle cut french fries.

The Cleveland Indians (Progressive Field) have fresh cut, and fried, french fries drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce with a pile of whip cream on the side.  (Not on my list of food to try.)

The New York Mets (Citi Field), S’mores Bacon on a stick.  The Pig Guy sells three kinds of bacon on a stick but the fan favorite is the one that is dunked in chocolate and rolled in crushed graham cracker and marshmallow mixture.

The Atlanta Braves (Turner Field), serves a Tater Tot Chop.  These Tater Tots are pressed in a waffle iron and stuffed with bacon, cheese and jalapenos.  It is served with a Coco-Cola infused Ketchup.

Minnesota Twins (Target Field), they have the Bigger Better Burger Bloody Mary.  This would be my favorite on this list as I love a good Bloody Mary.  This one comes with a celery stalk, a beef stick, a pickle, plus a cheeseburger slider with an olive on top.  You can have bacon, onion and lettuce on the slider  Here on the Cape I usually go for one that has a large shrimp on the glass plus what ever else they want to throw in.

Pittsburgh Pirates (PNC Park) the favorite here is called the “Pulled Pork Pierogi Stacker.”  This sandwich contains smoked pulled pork, (a personal favorite of mine), onion jam, and two boiled pierogi on a pretzel bun.

The Milwaukee Brewers (Miller Park) has something called the “Down Wisconsin Avenue Brat.”  It is a foot-and-a-half (2 nine inch bratwursts) loaded with sauerkraut, fried jalapenos, cheese sauce and cheese curds.  If not a traditionalist you can have this with Polish sausage, Italian sausage, chorizo or hot dogs, so they have all the local  ethnic communities covered.

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Jack strode into ‘John’s Stable’ looking to buy a horse. “Listen here” said John, “I’ve got just the horse you’re looking for, the only thing is, he was trained by an interesting fellow. He doesn’t go and stop the usual way. The way to get him to stop is to scream heyhey the way to get him to go is to scream Thank God.

Jim nodded his head, “fine with me, can I take him for a test run?”

Jim was having the time of his life this horse sure could run he thought to himself. Jim was speeding down the dirt road when he suddenly saw a cliff up ahead “stop!” screamed Jim, but the horse kept on going. No matter how much he tried he could not remember the words to get it to stop. “yoyo” screamed Jim but the horse just kept on speeding ahead. It was 5 feet from the cliff when Jim suddenly remembered “heyhey!” Jim screamed. The horse skidded to a halt just 1 inch from the cliff.

Jim could not believe his good fortune, he looked up to the sky, raise his hands in the air, breathed a deep sigh of relief and said with conviction “Thank God.”

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During my life I have had good expensive hams and also good inexpensive hams.  I would say that the best have been rather small, perhaps the size of a football.  I have driven half way across the state for the most expensive in Massachusetts and found it nothing to crow about.

After reading what the internet says about hams on at least six web sites the oldest going back to 2013 (Consumers Guide) I have come up with the top five and easily  obtainable hams in our local markets.

Top choice is Carondo Hickory Smoked, Spiral Cut, and Bone in.  However if you can find one not spiral cut it will be more moist.

The next were mentioned a lot just not as much as Carondo, Hickory Smoked, which also is a favorite of restaurants.

        Hormel Cure 81
        Hickory Farms Honey Gold
        Smithfield Sugar Cured
        Roche Bros, Gold Foil Ham

Most agree that the package of ham glaze should not be used and you should make your own at home.  I found a recipe that many seem to like and have it next although it is not a five star recipe.  Perhaps some are just too picky.

 Barefoot Contessa Ham Glaze

    1 (14- to 16-pound) fully cooked, spiral-cut smoked ham
    6 garlic cloves
    8 ½  ounces mango chutney
    ½  cup Dijon mustard
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    Zest of 1 orange
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan.

Mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chutney, mustard, brown sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Pour the glaze over the ham and bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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By now you must realize the weird things perk my interest.  Here is one from the Tar Heel area of the country.  November 17, 2017 03:12pm ET

What in the World? Flat-Earthers Gather at First Conference

 A conference aimed at disputing the idea that the world is round just wrapped up in North Carolina.

The first-ever 2017 Flat Earth International Conference (FEIC) was held in Raleigh on Nov. 9 and 10, featuring some of the big names in round-Earth denial. Among the speakers were Darryle Marble, who once took a level on a plane to "prove" the Earth doesn't curve; Mark Sargent, the creator of the Flat Earth Clues YouTube Series, who believes all life is enclosed in a "Truman Show"-like dome structure; and Jeran Campanella, a YouTube and online radio personality, who makes flat-Earth, 9/11 Truther and other conspiracy theory videos. [7 Ways to Prove the Earth Is Round]

The conference was hosted by Kryptoz Media, which produces DVDs and other media arguing that "scientism" is an agenda designed to keep people from God, and the Creation Cosmology Institute, an organization with little online footprint except a now-deleted YouTube channel.

The conference featured talks such as "NASA and Other Space Lies," "Flat Earth with the Scientific Method," "Waking Up to Mainstream Science Lies" and "Testing the Globe." The conference organizer, Kryptoz Media's Robbie Davidson, is a Christian creationist, and that philosophy emerged in sessions such as "Flat Earth & The Bible" and "Exposing Scientism," the latter of which decried evolution and the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin.

Flat-Earthers believe that Earth is not a globe, but a flat plane. Beliefs on how the "true" globe is laid out vary, but many YouTube personalities who push the conspiracy theory say that the planet is a disc surrounded by an ice wall. Flat-Earthers argue that NASA and other scientific agencies digitally fake pictures of the globe from space and that there is a vast conspiracy to keep the truth of the flat Earth from the public.

Recently, flat-Earth believer and rapper B.o.B. tried to crowdfund $1 million via GoFundMe to launch a satellite to see if he could detect for himself the curvature of the Earth. GoFundMe temporarily froze the donation account, but it is now back online, having raised $6,842 from 224 people.

No one knows how many people really subscribe to flat-Earth beliefs. The Flat Earth Society, the oldest organization devoted to the belief, claims 555 members. Marble boasts 22,954 subscribers to his YouTube channel. About 500 people attended the conference in Raleigh, Davidson told Live Science via email.

The next annual Flat Earth International Conference will be held in Denver, from Nov. 15 -16, in 2018. Davidson said he expects up to 1,500 attendees.

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How about them apples?

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Have you ever noticed that all dishes and telescopes searching for intelligent life are pointed away from Earth?

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If you are looking for a Holiday dessert recipe, your guests will fall all over this treat for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (pure pumpkin puree)
1 cup granulated sugar
½  cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
½  cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Topping
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat Oven to 325 Degrees

In a large bowl combine Pumpkin, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Eggs, Oil and Vanilla.
Slowly add in Flour, Pumpkin Spice, Baking Soda and Salt and Mix well.
Pour Cake Batter into a 9×13 Baking Dish.

In a separate bowl beat the Cream Cheese, Sugar, Egg Yolk, and Vanilla until combined.

Spoon Cream Cheese Mixture onto Cake Mixture and swirl using a knife.

Bake 50 minutes at 325 Degrees or until center is set.

Allow to cool before serving.

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People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point.  The glass is refillable.

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Lets check in on MMM (Mr. Money Mustache) His blog is one I check from time to time to see what he is currently ranting about.  This time it is very timely as health insurance renewals are coming up.  Luckily I do not worry about this as I have three policies and all are subsidized by the government.  The problem is not everyone has my good fortune.   Well here goes:   And remember this is written by MMM.

When Your Shitty Health Insurance Doubles in Price

 Well, despite Mr. Money Mustache’s outrageous optimism, I think we all saw this coming. I opened up my premium renewal email from Kaiser and saw this: My family’s monthly health insurance premium, which had already more than doubled in the last few years to $674 per month, was going up a further 44% for the coming year. For no good reason, other than perhaps the current government’s attempts to kill off the Affordable Care Act. (By cutting various parts of the structure, the insurance market becomes less stable and predictable, and thus more expensive).

Now, before we go any further, I have to note that this is a situation that only affects high income earners. If we were really retired on a $30,000 passive income as we were for some of the decade before this blog started making significant money, our family’s monthly cost would be more like $128, due to tax credits and the Children’s Health Plus plan.  But in my email, I just saw the thousand bucks. And if you know how I feel about rules, unnecessary costs, and insurance in general, you can probably guess what my initial gut reaction was::…

“Fuck. FUCK THAT! This is absolute bullshit. Fuck you, I quit, I’m not paying it.”

But, since I’m not sixteen years old anymore, I was eventually able to get past this first stage of the analysis and think about an actual course of action.

After all, all the power and freedom in the world is of no use at all, if you choose to wallow in your anger rather than taking steps to create the life you want. So I thought about why I was so angry. It boiled down to this:

The premiums are not an accurate representation of my risk.

The value of medical insurance is pretty easy to estimate: the National Institute of Health calculates that the average person consumes about $449,000* in health care spending over an 80-year lifetime, or $5600 per year.  This is less than my plan’s deductible alone, which eliminates the value of insurance right off the bat. My plan really only covers catastrophically expensive events, which means it is unlikely that I will ever use it.

After doing the math, I decided that my limit is definitely less than $1000, which means I should at least consider other options. So I looked into some of them:

    Full Self Insurance
    2.9 Months per year of Self Insurance (to avoid IRS penalty)
    Medical Tourism
    Joining a “Healthshare Ministry” like Libertyshare
    Expat insurance like Cigna
    Artificial poverty (reducing my income to a level where we’d qualify for subsidies)

To read the whole blog which would have some helpful information for those on the cusp visit:
 http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/11/05/when-your-shitty-health-insurance-doubles-in-price/

Here is just the last paragraph which probably many will more than likely also accept.

So in the end, we’re just letting the policy auto-renew for now, using that last bullet point as a consolation prize.  And these premiums will probably remain outrageous, unless we fix the underlying problem in the US: it’s not the insurance, it’s how much money we waste on medical care. If the Medical system could grow a Money Mustache**, I am certain we could cut our costs down by at least 75%, just as the average consumer can cut their costs by a similar portion just by learning to live a joyful and efficient life.

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“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid”

~Ben Franklin

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There’s an old joke that on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. An updated version of that might be that on the internet, no one knows you’re dead. Chatbots — computer programs that emulate a person’s conversational style — could keep your digital self talking long after your physical self has stopped breathing.

Interesting...I wonder if the program can write a weekly letter?

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Brain in the cloud

Rahnama’s big-data approach to artificial intelligence parallels the way that researchers at IBM taught their Watson artificial intelligence platform how to think like a person. Six years ago, Watson famously defeated Ken Jennings to become the first machine Jeopardy champion, in large part by assimilating complex cultural knowledge.

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Once again I find myself on page nine of my computer program and that marks the end of this weeks letter.

George

For a weekly letter put letter in the subject line and email grucker@capecod.net

Older copies available on line available with additions of pictures and video by my friend Walter at www.capecod-beaches.com