George Rucker's Prodigious Newsletter for December 19, 2017

Greetings                                                                     19 December 2017
Just an FYI.    Captain Scott Tingle '87, an alumnus of UMass Dartmouth's College of Engineering, will be a part of the Expedition 55 crew to launch on December 17 for a four-month mission at the International Space Station. The crew will be conducting research to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical and biological sciences.

Patty received her B.S.N. from the same school and her Masters from Assumption College.  I have always been attracted by smart women.


There will be no Nativity Scene in D.C.

The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene on Capitol Hill this Christmas season.

This isn't for any  religious reason.   They simply have not  been able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation's Capitol.

A search for a Virgin continues.

There was  no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.


What's The Difference Between Bourbon and Whiskey?

This question seems like a no-brainer, right? They're one in the same, aren't they? Well, yes and no. There are some key differences.

Think of Whiskey as King

To sort out this burning question about brown liquor, I turned to expert mixologist, Jerry Slater, the Atlanta-based co-author of The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails, for the straight-up scoop. "Whiskey is a broad category of alcohol distilled from cereal grains," he explained. Sub-categories include Scotch whiskey, Irish whiskey, Japanese whiskey, rye whiskey, Canadian whiskey and bourbon. Tennessee whiskey is distinguished from its boozy brethren because producers use a technique called the Lincoln process, which means the whiskey is filtered through maple charcoal. "That makes it smoother and sweeter," said Slater, of the famous brands such as Jack Daniels.

And Bourbon's the Queen

In 1965, the U.S. government's department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms laid down the law on exactly what can be called bourbon. "Bourbon has to be made from at least 51 percent corn," Slater said. "It must be aged a minimum of two years, and, if it's less than four years, it must say so on the label. It must be aged in new white oak barrels. And it must be made in America." For many years, bourbon fans believed the spirit was produced only in the south, only in Kentucky. But that's definitely not the case. "There's bourbon being made in all 50 states these days."

Rye is The Wild Card

Rye whiskey is experiencing a newfound popularity, especially as the cocktail culture shows no sign of slowing down. Cheers to that! Rye is an essential ingredient in classic drinks like a Manhattan, with its slightly spicy profile bringing a whole lot of character to the party. Here's a little rye trivia: It makes for a very good fermentation starter, so many bourbons use a small amount of rye in their mix.

On my bucket list is to attend the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival.  The state of Kentucky has long been famous for its thoroughbred horses, thriving tobacco industry and brown liquor, but it wasn't until the past 10 years, or so, that fans of that iconic spirit started beating a path to what's now known as the Bourbon Trail. There are many must-visit places between Louisville and Lexington that are well worth exploring, especially if you plan on being in the region for the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, held in the fall in Bardstown.


Ready for a riddle series? In the coming weeks, they will be progressively harder and the answer will be towards the end of the letter.   These logic puzzles take place on an island with two types of people: the knights, who always tell the truth, and the knaves, who always lie.

American mathematician and musician Raymond Smullyan named this type of puzzle in his 1978 book What Is the Name of This Book? You might remember a knights and knaves puzzle from the 1986 fantasy film, Labyrinth.


On the island of knights and knaves, you are approached by two people. The first one says to you, "we are both knaves."

What are they actually?

Is the first person a knight?

Solution will be below to check the solution


Friends - please be careful

Yesterday I went to a Christmas party.  I had a few beers, followed by a few cocktails, followed by a few shots...

I still had the sense to know that I was over the limit.  That’s when I decided to do what I have never done before: I took a cab home.

Sure enough, there was a police road block on the way home, and since it was a cab, they waved it past.  I arrived home safely without incident.  This was both a great relief and surprise because I had never driven a cab before.  I don’t even know where I got it from and, now that it is in my garage, I don’t know what to do with it.


Here in New England we are being over run with wild turkey.  The wild turkey is an upland ground bird native to North America and is the heaviest member of the diverse Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of wild turkey. Although native to North America, the turkey probably got its name from the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain. The British at the time therefore associated the wild turkey with the country Turkey and the name prevails today.

I am looking for three things about turkey.  Is there a hunting season?  What is the best defense against these monsters?  And last other than man what is their main predator?  Here on Cape Cod they are multiplying at an alarming rate.

Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts, are agile fliers. In ideal habitat of open woodland or wooded grasslands, they may fly beneath the canopy top and find perches. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than 400 m (a quarter mile).

First, to hunt turkey you need to check your state laws.  Anything I have here is from Massachusetts data.  There are two seasons, Spring and Fall, about 4 weeks in Spring, the end of April to third week in May.  Then two weeks in the Fall, last week of October to the first week in November.  Total time is about six weeks.  There is also time of day restrictions.  You all need certain licenses and permits purchased through MassFishHunt.  There are also strict quantities on birds, type of weapon, dress requirements, methods of attraction, and reporting and tagging procedures.

Lets talk defense.  The best defense against aggressive or persistent turkeys is to prevent the birds from becoming habituated in the first place by being bold to them. Everyone in the neighborhood must do the same; it will be ineffective if you do so only on your property… Habituated turkeys may attempt to dominate or attack people that the birds view as subordinates.

Wild turkeys have an uncanny and somewhat scary ability to recognize our voices and appearance. They can differentiate humans from one another, a skill they use to rank us in the all-important pecking order.

From MassWildlife: “Human-imprinted turkeys (those which have formed a indelible social and mental bond with humans upon birth) recognize and respond to people by both voice and appearance. The turkeys will also assign a sex to people, based upon the bird’s perception of the human’s behavior rather than their actual sex, and behave towards that person accordingly, for an indefinite period.”

I have crows in my neighborhood that seem to know me on sight while walking, then I think they ask me for food.  I feed them regularly in the morning.  They have the ability to make different sounds and I sometimes think they are talking to or about me.

You might need one last bit of information about these birds...Some wild turkeys can hit 20 mph when running at full speed, according to National Geographic. They can also rocket themselves through the air—small bursts of flight can top out at 55 mph.

Now consider that wild turkeys can have a wingspan in excess of four feet and weigh 20 pounds. It’s understandable that folks may be hesitant to establish dominance over the burly birds.

Turkeys don’t start beef with humans over territory. For them, it’s all about the pecking order, and if you don’t establish dominance on that first encounter, you’re beneath the beast in its eyes.

Last thing is predators...Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons, opossums, striped skunks, gray foxes, groundhogs, other rodents and spotted skunks.  Predators of poultry in addition to nestlings and eggs also include several snakes, namely rat snakes, gopher snakes and predators that feed mainly on birds which include raptors such as bald eagles, owls, hawks of sufficient size.  Mortality of young turkey is greatest in the first 14 days of life, especially of those who are roosting on the ground, the death of the young starts decreasing most notably after the first half a year, when they attain near adult sizes.

Occasionally, if cornered, adult turkeys may try to fight off predators and large male toms can be especially aggressive in self-defense. When fighting off predators, turkeys may kick with their legs, using the spurs on their back of the legs as a weapon, bite with their beak and ram with their relatively large bodies and may be able to deter predators up to the size of mid-sized mammals.  Hen turkeys have been seen to chase off at least two species of hawks in flight when their young are threatened.  Occasionally, turkeys may behave aggressively towards humans, especially in areas where natural habitats are scarce. They also have been seen to chase off humans as well. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space and keeping outdoor spaces clean and undisturbed.



The first person cannot be a knight. Knights always tell the truth, so if he were a knight, he would tell you so. Instead he says, "we are both knaves."

If the first man is a knave, then he must be a liar. This means they cannot both be knaves. So, since we've established that the first man is a knave and a liar, the second man must be a knight.

Easy? Well this island of knights and knaves is only going to get stranger and more difficult to navigate, so make sure to come back next week for another riddle!


What's the Difference Between Sirloin and Top Round Steaks?

Shopping for meat can be confusing. All those slabs of beef can look shockingly similar in the supermarket, right? How do you figure out the difference between top round and sirloin, for instance? Well, we're here to help sort it all out, with the help of best-selling author/expert, Meathead Goldwyn.

 Top Round Tips

While these two types of cut sometimes look similar, they couldn't be further apart on the animal. The round steak is also referred to as the rump, and that anatomical description is pretty self-explanatory. That large muscle works hard, so it's lean, without a lot of fat "marbled" throughout. The entire round is very large, weighing up to 150 pounds, with the bone-in. One reason it's so popular is the price is right. It's roughly 20 percent cost of a high-end tenderloin, and many say they prefer the flavor. Sometimes, it's cut in a big, flat pieces and sold as round "steak", which Meathead said is best when cooked low and slow, either in a braise or in a sous-vide setup. That treatment benefits from a quick sear at the end of the long cook time, something Meathead calls "Sous- Vide Cue." For best results, Meathead suggests slicing it thinly against the grain.  This type of cooking is in a vacuum.

 A Sirloin Deep Dive

Many beef lovers swear by sirloin, giving a big thumb's up to its meaty flavor and juicy texture. It comes from the primal loin, in the same muscle group as the prized rib eye, near the rib cage of the animal. There's a section of sirloin that's toward the top of the muscle, which is popular at Brazilian steakhouses. It's called the picon, and while it's a rarity, it's worth seeking out at artisan butcher shops. Meathead strongly suggests cooking sirloin steaks to 130 degrees, which he measures with a digital meat thermometer. Does it need to rest for five minutes after cooking? Nope, said the author of the New York Times best-selling book on the science of great barbecue and grilling. "That's not really necessary," he said, going against conventional wisdom.
Sirloin happens to be my favorite, however for stew and pot-roast I prefer round steaks.


Our teacher asked what my favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."

She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed.

My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favorite animal.

I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA.  He said they love animals very much.

I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office.

I told him what happened, and he laughed, too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was.  I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked me to tell her what famous person I admired most. I told her, "Colonel Sanders."  Guess where the f*** I am now..


I have been using computers for perhaps 40 years now, maybe longer.  As far back, if you count the ability to cut IBM cards for batch processing which was used by some rather large computers as they could only do one job at a time.  I am not talking processing size but physical size as most took up an entire large room if using transistors.  In the time before transistors we used tubes and they took up almost a single four story city block, a giant cube.  I have worked inside some of these buildings during my military career.  If you care to see one visit

I have learned many computer languages during my life, although I never used any of them other than to gain college credits or cut computer cards.  I also have had many home computers, the first being only 16k.  I currently have three computers and use two, one for me and one for Patty and one spare.  The current size of the computers are no longer measured in kilobytes or megabytes, but gigabytes and terabytes.  My smallest at home is 500 gigabytes.

I have had many crash due to malware, spyware or equipment failure.  This section is about computer security.  I have used McAfee, Norton and found them to slow my computer and still fail in their job.  Not only did I need to pay them annually for their service but they still failed.   I have also paid for other services like driver updates and stuff like that.  Those services are not necessary as you can obtain drivers on line for free.

Of all the programs for computer security I have found the best to be PC Matic.  Not only is it good, but at least for me,.is forever and for up to five computers.  There is no annual fee.  I am not sure if that plan is still available for the general public but if it is I highly recommend it.  It stops ransomware, hacking attacks, I also have PC Matic Super Shield which pretty much covers everything else.


I was standing at the bar of Terminal 3 in the Atlanta International Airport when this small Chinese guy comes in, stands next to me, and starts drinking a beer.

I asked him, "Do you know any of those martial arts things, like Kung-Fu, Karate, or Ju-Jitsu?"

He says "No, I don't. And furthermore, why would you ask me that? Is it because I'm Chinese?

"No", I said, "It's because you're drinking my beer"


Page 7 now but no recipe yet, let us start with some cooking history.  The salt shaker we reach for so casually on our table is the result of millennia of human endeavor, laden with history, symbolism and ritual.

To early people, salt appeared to be a rock that would dissolve in liquid, maintain its salty essence, then reappear in the form of crystals when the liquid evaporated.  No wonder they thought it had magical properties.

Besides being essential to humans for food, domesticated grazing animals and the curing of leather, salt was believed to provide protection from evil.

Salt was important to ancient Jews, whose dietary laws required that blood had to be removed from meat, which is accomplished by salting.

In the early Catholic church a few grains of salt were placed on the tongue of a child that was being baptized to drive out evil spirits and ensure they didn’t return.

All of which made salt
a desirable and expensive commodity.  A gift of salt was a token of hospitality and anyone who accidentally spilled the precious crystals was considered unlucky and in danger of attracting the attention of evil spirits.

The solution was to throw a few grains of salt over the left shoulder where malevolent forces were believed to gather.

There are many companies that produce salt in the world but we here in America do have one worthy of note.  America’s Sea Salt Company® This company has 110 types of salt some for food preparation and some for bathing.


First thing is I do not have any “White Truffle Salt,” but I do see if comes from almost all over the world and can be bought on Amazon anywhere from $2.50 to $12.50 per ounce.  The company above sells it for $4.00 per ounce.

Both sour cream/crème fraîche can be purchased at Market Basket.

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Fusion® White Truffle Salt


    3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    ½ medium white or yellow onion, chopped
    4 cups chicken broth
    2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
    5 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
    3 fresh sage leaves or ½ teaspoon dried sage
    1 teaspoon White Truffle Salt, or to taste
    Toasted pumpkin seeds, optional topping
    Sour cream or crème fraîche, optional topping


    Place a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add oil and then add the onions. Cook until the onions are soft and then add butternut squash cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, about 10-15 minutes.

    Add the chicken broth, brown sugar, parsley, sage, and White Truffle Salt and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and cook on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and when the soup is cool enough to safely handle, remove the parsley and fresh sage, if you used it, from the soup and puree the soup in a blender. If a finer texture is desired, strain the pureed soup through a fine mesh strainer.

    Pour the soup into a large saucepan. Season with additional White Truffle Salt, to taste. Heat to the desired serving temperature and serve with toasted pumpkin seeds and a dollop of sour cream/crème fraîche if desired.


I think that will be all for this week.  Remember to Smile and wish all a Merry Christmas.  I know I will not see everyone of you this year for Christmas but I want to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.


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As usual older copies found on with additions from Walter the owner of the site.