George Rucker's Newsletter for February 7, 2017 

Bonjour mes amis, this is French for Hello my friends,

"Ça va" literally means "it goes." So when someone asks, "Comment ça va?" they are asking, "How's it going?" and when you reply, "ça va," you're saying, "It's going along."

Much of last weeks letter was taken up with one topic; I am sorry about that.  I will start this week first writing about another invention that change mankind.  I took a few college classes on this topic while working in the environmental protection field.   I have visited some of the nearby plants on tours as far away as Providence RI.  I have utilized the same labs for testing the bacteria levels measured for this process, utilizing the same equipment to insure the same outcome as the personnel working within the facility.  I know enough about this invention and have completed enough credits to work in this field, but probably not run one due to my lack of experience, not that I ever wanted to, as I don’t.  I have inspected the process more than once with the assistance of some college professors and other environmental professionals.  This weeks invention will be Wastewater Treatment Systems, enjoy.

While working for the Defense Department I saw first-hand the results of a system failure and the costs involved to return the plant back to operational status.  Our treatment plant failed due to an oil-water separator failure.  This separator failure allowed jet fuel to flow into the treatment plant and thus the snow ball began rolling down the hill.  Wanting to know more about this entire process and to understand why and how it works was the reason I took more night classes.  This has been my motivation for attending any college class throughout much of my life and also the reason for accumulating over 300 credits and only having an associate degree.  My interests seems to vary due to my life’s circumstances.

Wastewater treatment systems are one of those innovations that don’t seem all that important until you stop to consider what life would be like without them.  What happens after we flush the toilet or run the garbage disposal is not a topic most of us dwell on – this is just one of the many privileges of living in a first-world country.

However, when you compare our way of life to that of developing nations struggling with cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever resulting from the absence of wastewater treatment, it’s easy to understand why modern wastewater treatment plants are considered one of the greatest public health inventions of all time.

While gravity-based sewer systems have existed for more than 3,000 years, it has only been within the past century that we have developed widespread solutions to deal with the river of wastewater and its related public health and pollution issues.

Modern wastewater treatment works in three basic steps.  In the primary stage, solids are removed from the water and collected for disposal to either a landfill or an incinerator.  Usually this culling process uses metal screens that filter the water into pools, or primary clarifiers, where it sits to allow solids to separate out.  Primary treatment is expected to remove about half of the solids, organic materials and bacteria.  At this point some treatment plants simply chlorinate the remaining water to kill the bacteria, or microbes, before releasing it.

For plants utilizing the secondary treatment, the next stage allows the waste stream to flow into oxygenated aeration tanks, where it becomes a concentrated sludge.  There, naturally occurring bacteria consume the biosolids, or organic material and existing nutrients.  It is expected that 90 percent of all solids and organic materials are removed from the wastewater during this phase.

The last treatment stage uses chemicals or filter beds to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the water.  At this point, chlorine is added to the water to kill any remaining bacteria before it is discharged.

I have seen the solids recycled into a compost when mixed with leaves and recyclable paper, or made into fertilizer although not a grand scale as there are to few companies doing that sort of recycling.  It reminds me of starting a new manure pile every year when young and living on a farm.  During the third year, the oldest pile would be added to the garden topsoil while plowing the field in the Spring.  That was almost 65 years ago.

According to the latest UNICEF study on water supply and sanitation, released in early 2015, 32 percent of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and 663 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources.

As bad as that sounds it is an improvement of the 2013 study.

During this time of my life was there anything I found to be interesting or unbelievable?  I could not believe it but tomato seeds manage to survive this entire treatment process and still be viable enough to grow out of the compost piles.  My best guess is since we eat most of them raw in salads they do not die in our system, we simply do not digest the seeds.  Then after they get transferred to a treatment plant, pass through the aerobic process (excess oxygen), then the anaerobic process (total lack of oxygen), lastly the drying of the solids and finally the heat of composting, they start to germinate and spring to life.  I did notice compost piles give off a lot of heat, so much so that piles steam on cold mornings and melt snow in the winter.  Perhaps the heat is not hot enough to kill the seeds.  This was just something I noticed, pondered and then formed a theory in my mind, just useless knowledge until this paragraph.

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This recipe is misnamed as it is anything but crispy, however it is nothing short of terrific.  I used the New Zealand Jazz apple and it was beyond incredible.  Everyone who tried it went back for seconds.  I also used the max time to be sure the apples were cooked as you will not be able to see them under the topping.  Some of my changes to this recipe.  I did not think there were enough apples so I used 6.  I also thought the recipe had a little too much sugar so I used 1/3 cup of both types of sugar and it was still pretty sweet, perhaps 1/4 cup would work.  My last change was since I like cinnamon I added cinnamon drops in the apple mixture (1/4 cup).

Slow-Cooker Apple Crisp

Ingredients

5 medium apples, coarsely chopped
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup butter, melted
1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ yellow cake mix

Directions

    Spray 2- to 3 ½-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

    In large bowl, toss apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add to slow cooker.

    In medium bowl, mix melted butter and dry cake mix. Sprinkle on top of apples.

    Cover; cook on High heat setting 2 to 3 hours or until apples are soft, removing cover for last 30 minutes of cooking.

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Duckology - This has been added for the Oregon University Ducks as they are having a terrible football season and have replaced the coach.  However the new coach has put three players into the hospital during practice.  Perhaps he will also be sent packing, but you know me as I would just say “Suck it up buttercup and keep moving you wuss.”

bean : The small round bump on the end of a duck's bill. Also called the nail.

bill : The part of the duck that forms the mouth and nose

brood : A group of baby ducks.

broody : A hen who wants to sit on a nest and hatch and raise her babies

camouflage : Color or markings that allow a duck to blend in with its surroundings so predators won't find it.

clutch : A bunch of eggs to be incubated.

crest : The tuft of feathers on the top of the duck's head (Lemon has a white tuft on her head---she is a crested Pekin duck).

crop : The place where the food first goes when it is swallowed.

dabble : The kind of duck that tips (bottom's up) to reach weeds growing under the surface of the water.

down : The soft fluffy 'feathers' found next to the skin of adult birds (under their other feathers). The soft fluffy covering on ducklings.

drake : A male duck

duck : A kind of waterfowl. Also the name for a female duck.

duckling : The proper name for a baby duck.

egg tooth : The temporary horny bump on the duckling's upper bill used for pipping (breaking through) the shell. The egg tooth falls off shortly after the duckling hatches.

grit : Small pebbles fed to birds to help them grind up their food.

imprint : The process of learning to recognize 'mom'. If the natural mother is not around then the first continuing contact will become mom.

incubate : To provide a fertile egg with the conditions necessary for it to develop into a baby.

lamellae : The serrations found on the bills of ducks and geese that look like teeth. They are used to help cut and rip grasses and weeds as well as to hold insects or fish.

mate : The partner of an animal. The pair-bonding of birds.

molt : All birds must get rid of old worn feathers and grow new ones from time to time.

    The duck begins to shed some old feathers
    Pin feathers grow in to replace the old feathers
    As the pin feathers become full feathers, other feathers are shed

paddling : The name for a group of ducks on water.

pinfeathers : The feathers that have not grown all the way out .

pip : The first crack in the egg made by the baby duck trying to get out.

plumage : The feathers of a duck.

preen : How ducks clean and comb their feathers. They use their bills to get dirt out of their feathers and to make them lie correctly. Ducks also preen to spread oils on the feathers that will make them waterproof.

team : The name of a group of ducks in flight.

vent : The external opening of the digestive tract and the reproductive system.

waddle : The walking motion of most ducks.

waterfowl : Birds that have webbed feet and like to swim.

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A couple was invited to a swanky masked Halloween Party. She got a terrible headache and told her husband to go to the party alone. He, being a devoted husband, protested, but she argued and said she was going to take some aspirin and go to bed, and there was no need of his good time being spoiled by not going. So he took his costume and away he went.

The wife, after sleeping soundly for one hour, awakened without pain, and as it was still early, she decided to go to the party. In as much as her husband did not know what her costume was, she thought she would have some fun by watching her husband to see how he acted when she was not with him.

She joined the party and soon spotted her husband cavorting around on the dance floor, dancing with every nice chick he could, and copping a little feel here and a little kiss there. His wife sidled up to him and being a rather seductive babe herself, he left his partner high and dry and devoted his time to the new stuff that had just arrived.
She let him go as far as he wished; naturally, since he was her husband. Finally he whispered a little proposition in her ear and she agreed, so off they went to one of the cars and had a little bang.

Just before unmasking at midnight, she slipped away and went home and put the costume away and got into bed, wondering what kind of explanation he would make for his behavior.

She was sitting up reading when he came in and asked what kind of a time he had. He said, "Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you're not there."

Then she asked, "Did you dance much?"

He replied, "I'll tell you, I never even danced one dance. When I got there, I met Pete, Bill Brown and some other guys, so we went into the den and played poker all evening.

But I'll tell you... the guy I loaned my costume to said he sure had a real good time!"

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I have a report on my new kitchen.  Other than paint the kitchen is finished and what I like best is now it is like cooking in Disneyland or what I would envision cooking in Disneyland to be like, magical.  I sure do like the granite counters and I guess I should look up the do’s and don’ts on this surface.

Granite is a very resilient surface that can take some abuse. Minimizing this abuse can help extend the life of a granite countertop almost indefinitely.

Granite countertop dos:

    Clean up spills immediately by blotting, the longer they sit the more chance there is that it will stain
    Clean the surface with a mild soap and warm water, using a soft cloth
    Dry the surface of any moisture right away
    Have cutting boards ready for all slicing
    Use coasters under all drinks to keep moisture off the countertop
    Seal your granite countertop regularly – every 6 months to 2 years depending on use

Granite countertop don’ts:

    Place hot pans directly on a granite countertop, thermal shock can damage it
    Wipe up spills, blot at them to try and soak them up rather than spreading them around
    Use abrasive cleaners
    Use chemical filled cleaners
    Cut directly on the surface
    Allow acidic drinks to sit; though not as sensitive as marble, acids can eat away at the finish if given time

Putting a hot pan directly onto granite causes thermal shock, as stated above.  However Crock pots, if they're on the countertop when they're turned on, don't create a lot of thermal shock, because the temperature change is gradual. Thermal shock-based damage is more likely when you take a hot item and put it on the countertop, creating a large temperature different between the countertop immediately under the hot thing and the cooler countertop immediately adjacent to it.

Harsh cleaning agents such as bleach, kitchen degreasers and glass cleaners can strip the granite surface off the sealer, and can permanently stain the surface. This is because these common household cleaning agents contain acids, alkalies and other chemicals, which can harm the granite. One must be careful to only use mild soap and water to clean it. Even frequent use of soap can make the granite surface dull.

I have purchased a granite cleaner that I like and seems to not leave any streaks and removes any other residue.

Granite is a durable and easy-to-maintain countertop material. It does have its disadvantages, however, mostly all products in the market have some or the other drawback. While deciding on which countertop material to buy, one must weigh the pros and cons. Despite these cons, granite countertops are elegant, unique and enhance the beauty of one's kitchen.

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 As one goes through life one learns that if you don't paddle your own canoe, you don't move.
--Katharine Hepburn

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Every once in a while, I get an email that does not seem true and many times it truly is the case.  I have friends that just returned from Mexico and they stated they had a great time but they stayed within the resort.  I see nothing on this topic reported by any of the news stations, including my favorite FOX.  This same country produces their own oil and sell it internationally so supply should not be a problem.  Some of the articles I see are dated in January so this problem for Mexico is recent.  There are a ton of sites on the topic on Google and they read like the following.

Demonstrations spread throughout Mexico during the first days of the year, reportedly occurring in 28 of the country's 32 states, with Mexicans from political parties, labor unions, and other groups mounting sit-ins, roadblocks, and other protests.

In recent days, popular outrage has curdled into violent displays as looters strike stores and other outlets around the country.

If Mexico collapses into chaos and/or revolution before President Trump can build his Wall, he and we have a seriously dangerous situation on our hands.  A prosperous and stable Mexico is in his and our interests, and his policies should be designed with that in mind.

A check of the Drudge report has nothing on this topic either.

My best guess is this topic it is Mexican propaganda as to why they can’t pay for the wall.  However most of my friends say if it is only about $125 per taxpayer where do they send the check.

The following is not the southern wall but interesting due to the programming I see on TV, the protesters are in the minority.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 25-26, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.

The survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a temporary ban on refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen until the federal government approves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here.

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During my late 20s and early 30s of my life, in the Philippine Islands I lived in a house with some great plants in the yard.  It had banana trees, papaya trees, many orchids growing from chunks of moss, plus one old decaying stump in the from yard along the walkway to the front door.  One of my college papers was about that old stump and the orchids attached to it.  There were hibiscus plants with blossoms year round, and for 6 months of each year I had two avocado trees that produced fruit.  These trees were huge, by huge 4 or 5 stories, my house was pretty much in constant shade and these two trees would produce bushels of the fruit.  My youngest maid, who’s duty was to keep my children safe, would take some of the avocados to market and trade for shrimp and stuff like that for our supper.  The base Latin club “Latinos Unidos,” would come by and trade for them also usually using Latin food.  I never took money from anyone who wanted any, but most of the time would trade for things if offered and it was usually food stuffs.  I always had many more than I could use and the maids or the gardener would occasionally take paper bagfuls home.

This house took a part of my housing allowance as it was considered sub-standard officer’ quarters.  They were rented to E-6 and above enlisted personnel for half of the monthly allowance.  I moved my family from the off-base, gated, 5 bedroom house ($45/month + $20 for guard fee) to be much closer to work.  I could almost now walk to work.

Back to the avocados Here is another recipe for Guacomole from the NY times.

This guacamole is the definitive recipe, adapted from Josefina Howard, the chef at the original Rosa Mexicano restaurant in Manhattan. It is dead simple and easily scaled to serve a crowd, which is good, because you'll need a lot of it — even if you're the only one partaking.

Featured in: By The Book; Memories Of Mexico, Seasoned By Time.

Guacamole

Ingredients

    3 tablespoons chopped onion, split
    ½ teaspoon minced Serrano chili, or more, to taste
    1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
    ½ teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
    1 small vine-ripened tomato
    1 ripe Haas avocado
    Tortilla chips for serving

Preparation

    In a medium-size bowl, mortar or a Mexican molcajete (lava stone mortar), thoroughly mash 1 tablespoon of the onion with the chili, ½ teaspoon cilantro and the salt to make a paste.

    Cut the tomato in half horizontally, squeeze out the juice and seeds and discard. Chop pulp, and add it to the bowl.

    Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, cutting around the pit. Gently twist the top half of the avocado off to separate the halves. Carefully rap the pit with the edge of a sharp knife and twist it out. Using a paring knife slice the avocado flesh of both halves lengthwise, then crosswise, cutting down to the skin, to form a grid. Scoop the avocado into the bowl with a spoon.

    Add the remaining onion and cilantro, and gently fold all the ingredients together. Season with more chili and salt if desired. Serve at once with tortilla chips.

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I guess that is all for this week’s letter.  Have a great day and greet everyone with a smile and they will smile back, usually.

Yesterday, I watched one very exciting Super Bowl.  Thank You Patriots for one great game especially since it was on my Birthday.

George

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