George Rucker's Newsletter for March 28, 2017

Góðan daginn = good morning as said in Iceland,

I did not have a recipe in last weeks letter.  There are times when I just run out of space.  I think it mostly happens due to my incoming emails or possibly many interesting articles in the news.  I will start this week with a recipe, just to get it out of the way.

I mentioned to a friend at the Y that I would put a chili recipe into the letter.  There was a time when I would be asked to make chili for most parties.  The first recipe I used was from a Mexican rancher from the state of Wyoming.  It was a long time cooking and counting the rehydration of beans took almost four days to make.  I no longer take the time to make chile long and slow.  There are many ways to make chili and most are pretty good.  It depends on a persons taste buds and that is probably why there are so many chili cookoffs.  Many have secret ingredients, I know of one that uses rattlesnake meat.  Myself I happen to like to add refried beans as there are those when they see a bean say this is no longer chili.

When I have eaten chili I do not like to either see or taste kidney beans, in cookoffs I take points off for kidney beans while my wife would add points.  I think the only bean that is used would be the pinto bean, most refried beans are pinto.  In Spanish, they are called frijol pinto, literally "speckled bean." Chili with beans is called chili con carne.

In another life I was a member of the International Chile Society.  I still receive their quarterly paper, it is called “The Chile Pepper” I always thought if clever to use “Pepper” in place of “Paper.”  I actually signed a statement stating that I would never put any beans into my chile, a prerequisite to join the society.

Following is the way I make chili now, but finding Bush’s Chili Magic, chili starter can be a problem.  I tend to buy 3 or 4 cans whenever I see them on the shelves to insure a spare can.  The Sagamore Market Basket has some on the top shelf, in the bean section, at the moment.  The recipe is on the can but I tend to cook them with my own recipe.  They like things moderately spicy in Texas. And our Texas Recipe Chili Magic® Chili Starter delivers! We've simmered big, tender pinto beans in a sauce made with smoky chipotle peppers and mild green chilies for a real Texas kick. All you have to do is add meat and tomatoes!  For me this makes pretty good chili but I had to modify it to make it more like my own. I sometimes add one can of pinto beans (usually Goya) if I expect more people.

Medium Texas Chili - my version from memory

1 can  BUSH'S® Chili Magic® Chili Starter Texas Recipe

1 can refried pinto beans

1 pound lean hamburger (90% or less fat)

1 can Ro Tel Mexican style diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro

             (Note you can use Del Monte diced with chili peppers in a pinch)

1 diced yellow onion

Over medium heat brown meat in a large enough pot to hold all of above.  If you did not get lean beef, drain grease.

Put everything else into pot bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 or more minutes. (Sometimes at this point I put everything into a crockpot and cook on low for 3 or 4 hours)

Serve with shredded cheese or chopped fresh sweet onions.

This also goes great with grilled hot dogs.


Walter’s Big Pot of Really Good Vegan Chili

When you need a heaping helping of something fast, inexpensive, and healthy, few things that fit these criteria better than a big pot of chili. And no oil is used; your endothelial cells lining your veins and arteries will thank your not causing damage and hardening of these life-sustaining conveyors.  Simple, hearty, and warming, this is a great choice for casual summer / winter parties and for Superbowl Sunday. Serve with stone-ground tortilla chips, guacamole, and a big salad or cole slaw.


  • 4 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 Celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 Zulchiin (or one zuchini and 2 yellow summer squash, halfway thru cooking time))
  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 28-ounce cans dark kidney beans , drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16-oz can Chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid or dice 10 from own garden
  • 1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 Can Chipotle Peppers
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño or other hot peppers, seeded and minced, or one 8-ounce can mild or hot chopped green chiles
  • 3 12-0z PBR or a Good IPA Beer (or use Wine, Vegetable stock or water)
  • 5 tablespoon (Tbs) good-quality chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Tbs  ground pepper
  • 1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbs dried oregano
  • 4 Tbs ground cumin
  • Salt  to taste
  • Chopped ripe tomatoes for garnish
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish


  1. Add the onion sauté over medium-low heat until translucent in PBR beer. Add the garlic and sauté until the onion is golden. Add the remaining ingredients except the last three. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender and the flavors have melded.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, and adjust the other seasonings. If time allows, let the chili stand for up to several hours before serving. Heat through as needed. The chili should be nice and thick; if it has gotten too thick, stir in a cup of water. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with fresh tomatoes and cilantro.

Varations and optional garnishes:

  • Add a cup or two of cooked corn kernels toward the end of cooking time
  • Add a medium or large firm-cooked sweet potato, peeled and diced; I like to keep the skin on.
  • Put out extra “hot stuff” like minced fresh chili peppers, dried hot red pepper flakes, or hot sauce for those who like their chilies extra-spicy

Preparation time: 75 minute(s) | Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

It’s always better the next day.

Number of servings (yield): 21

Nutrition (per serving, if you use oil (not recommended) to saute instead of beer): 236 calories, 37 calories from fat, 4.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 938mg sodium, 719.6mg potassium, 39.9g carbohydrates, 11.6g fiber, 5.8g sugar, 11.4g protein, 6.8 points.

Without oil (which is how I cook  it): 216 calories, 17 calories from fat, 2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 938mg sodium, 719.6mg potassium, 39.9g carbohydrates, 11.6g fiber, 5.8g sugar, 11.4g protein, 6.2 points.



A List of Republican Budget Cuts

Notice S.S. and the military are NOT on this list         .

These are all the programs that the new Republican House has proposed cutting.

  Read to the end.

* Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy -- $445 million annual savings.

* Save America 's Treasures Program -- $25 million annual savings.

* International Fund for Ireland -- $17 million annual savings.

* Legal Services Corporation -- $420 million annual savings.

* National Endowment for the Arts -- $167.5 million annual savings.

* National Endowment for the Humanities -- $167.5 million annual savings.

* Hope VI Program -- $250 million annual savings.

* Amtrak Subsidies -- $1.565 billion annual savings.

* Eliminate duplicating education programs -- H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon , eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.

* U.S. Trade Development Agency -- $55 million annual savings.

* Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy -- $20 million annual savings.

* Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding -- $47 million annual savings.

* John C. Stennis Center Subsidy -- $430,000 annual savings.

* Community Development Fund -- $4.5 billion annual savings.

* Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid -- $24 million annual savings.

* Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half -- $7.5 billion annual savings

* Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20% -- $600 million annual savings.

* Essential Air Service -- $150 million annual savings.

* Technology Innovation Program -- $70 million annual savings.

*Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program -- $125 million annual savings..

* Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization -- $530 million annual savings.

* Beach Replenishment -- $95 million annual savings.

* New Starts Transit -- $2 billion annual savings.

 *  Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts -- $9 million annual savings

* Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants -- $2.5 billion annual savings.

* Title X Family Planning -- $318 million annual savings.

* Appalachian Regional Commission -- $76 million annual savings.

* Economic Development Administration -- $293 million annual savings.

* Programs under the National and Community Services Act -- $1.15 billion annual savings.

* Applied Research at Department of Energy -- $1.27 billion annual savings..

* Freedom CAR and Fuel Partnership -- $200 million annual savings..

* Energy Star Program -- $52 million annual savings.

*Economic Assistance to Egypt -- $250 million annually.

* U.S. Agency for International Development -- $1.39 billion annual savings..

* General Assistance to District of Columbia -- $210 million annual savings.

* Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority -- $150 million annual savings.

*Presidential Campaign Fund -- $775 million savings over ten years..

* No funding for federal office space acquisition -- $864 million annual savings.

*  End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.

* Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act -- More than $1 billion annually.

* IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget -- $1.8 billion savings over ten years.

*Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees -- $1 billion total savings.  WHAT'S THIS ABOUT?

* Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees -- $1.2 billion savings over ten years.

* Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of -- $15 billion total savings.

*Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.  WHAT???

* Eliminate Mohair Subsidies -- $1 million annual savings.

*Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- $12.5 million annual savings.  WELL ISN'T THAT SPECIAL

  * Eliminate Market Access Program -- $200 million annual savings.

* USDA Sugar Program -- $14 million annual savings.

* Subsidy to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -- $93 million annual savings.

* Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program -- $56.2 million annual savings.

*Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs -- $900 million savings.

* Ready to Learn TV Program -- $27 million savings..

* HUD Ph.D. Program.

* Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.

* TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years

My question is, what is all this doing in the budget in the first place

  Please Send to everyone you know......... OR WISH TO KNOW ....... OR JUST PLAIN WORTHY OF KNOWING THIS IMPORTANT STUFF ! ! !


It surprises me when things I think are real news and we are over whelmed by fake news, or at least things that should not be in the news.

The sixth largest lake in the United States was drying up, or should I say about three feet from record lows.  They actually wanted to dredge some of the channels as many larger boats could no longer get out into the lake.  The lowest year for Lake Tahoe was in 1992.  That is news, however what is even better news is the following.

Lake Tahoe expected to fill up with largest physical rise in recorded history.  There was so much water during the past two months, January and February that the lake’s water level is expected rise to its highest level in recorded history sometime this year thanks to the stormy weather that hammered the Western part of the United States this winter.


Just to let you know, I checked in with Mr. Money Moustache and went looking for the cheapest phone carrier.  I personally thought it would be TracFone.  I use an AARP carrier, called Consumer Cellular at $45/month.

Smartphone’s service shouldn’t have to cost a lot.  According to Mr. Moustache who has the goal to combine the best aspects of mobile and smartphone ownership (nationwide calling without long distance fees, having your phone, email, internet access, recipe book, camera, video recorder, voice recorder, calendar, notepad, music player, virtual scratch turntable, etc. all in a single device that is always in your pocket).. with the minimal cost associated with a ‘dumbphone’ on a prepaid plan.   He does not think anyone should pay more than $25/month for all.

Mr. and Mrs. MM now have both of their phones running on plans that cost them $10 per month each.  The $10 gets them..from the carrier Airvoice

 *   Up to 250 minutes of voice calling, which uses up your $10.00 at a rate of 4 cents per minute.

 *    Up to 500 text messages, which use up your balance at 2 cents per message (in either direction).

 *   Cellular Data (any that you use while not on a wi-fi network) is billed at 33 cents per megabyte.

 *   All Data on wi-fi is free.

The blog I was reading was written Oct, 2012 so I needed to check if the company is still available and what, if any, were the price changes.  They still offer the $10/ 250 minute plan, however:

For $20/month they offer Unlimited talk, Unlimited text, Unlimited MMS (looked this up MMS is most popularly used as picture messaging from camera-equipped phones.)

Unlimited Data providing you . . .  When using Wi-Fi, you will need to turn OFF your Cellular Data Network Setting on your handset. If you do not turn off the cellular data network setting on your handset, you will be charged for internet usage even if you are using Wi-Fi because it will still be considered Cellular Data Usage. Turning off the Cellular Data Network Setting will ensure you will strictly be using Wi-Fi and that you are not connected to the Cellular Data Network.

I find the company tempting but I am happy with my current company.  I am thinking of reducing the Data used as last month I did not hit 10 Megs of data, and I pay for 3 Gigs of data.

Every once and a while writing this letter has some perks, my cell company just reduced my bill to $24/month with 500 Megs of data included and all Wi-fi free.  My voice is limited to 250 minutes but those that know me would say that is overkill by about 220 minutes a month.  I rarely talk on the phone.  The reduction saved me $23/month, thanks Mr. Money Moustache and to Ronald who told me about him in the first place.


On Christmas Day in 2014, joy in millions of households across the world was replaced by disappointment.  A group called the Lizard Squad hacked into Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation, both video game plafforms, making it impossible to connect to the internet and use their systems.  Microsoft’s Xbox Live has 48 million subscribers and Sony’s PlayStation has more than double that number, about 110 million users.

Service was eventually restored, but the hacking soured Christmas for many kids (and adults) eager to play new games.  Video games have become so common – and so sophisticated and realistic – that it’s easy to forget that only 40 years ago they featured simple black-and-white blips simulating balls bouncing on a TV screen.

Just in case you do not know - I am a gamer.  I have played these game for most of those 40 years.  I have played with clubs, been in tourneys, had games written by my son that were not used by anyone else, etc.  I have played through 8 bit graphics to the multi pixel games on the market today.  I have used the name “Benthere” and “Donthat,” in many games.  I have participated in Beta testing prior to going out to the general public.  I still am a life member of “Lord of the Rings,” a game I no longer play.

In the World of Warcraft, (a world-wide game) Benthere has a city with his name, and many titles of accomplishment.  I think the best would be from winning the weekly fishing tournament and able to use the title of “Salty.” That account is on hold as I can only play one character at a time and I now play Final Fantasy 14.  Again as Ben There, now with a first and last name have made it to level 60.  This will be this weeks topic of world inventions.

Today video games are played with controllers that connect to specialized computers called consoles.  Consoles have a central processing unit (CPU) and a user control interface that allows the gamer to control the action, a software kernel that provides the interface between the various pieces of hardware in the system, and video and audio outlets.  Video game designers and programmers code each individual game with a series of algorithms that drive outcomes based on players’ choices through the game.

Current systems also offer solid-state memory cards for storing saved games and personal information.  Systems like PlayStation have DVD drives that allow gamers to upload different games, and all game consoles provide a video system that is compatible with television sets.

The software for today’s computer gaming systems has evolved to include realistic full-color graphics, multi-layered sound effects and very complex interactions between gamers and the system.  It also allows gamers to interact with other players all over the world through the Internet interface.  But maybe most importantly, a huge variety of games is available.  Some popular games include Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty; Ghosts, inFAMOUS Second Son, Titan Fall and Minecraft.

Ralph Baer, who died at age 92 in 2014 after a long career in radio and television industry, credited with inventing the first video game console.  One day in 1966, he was sitting on a curb outside a Manhattan bus station waiting for a friend when he realized how he might make his idea for playing games on TV work.

“It was basically a demonstration of how to put a spot on a screen, how to more it laterally, horizontally, and vertically, and vertically, and how to color it, how to color the background,” he told a Washington Post reporter.  After much work, Baer came up with a console that attached to a TV set and played an electronic ping-pong game later called Pong–the ancestor of today’s realistic and elaborate video games.  Video games are now a $10 billion dollar a year industry.


The other day while Patty and I were eating at the Mezza Luna in Buzzards Bay, they happened to have a very good appetizer.  It was Asparagus wrapped in crisp Prosciutto. The appetizer was so good I decided to see if I could find a recipe and put it into my letter.  It is from Submitted by Teresa Haider

"Extremely easy and elegant appetizer. Asparagus spears are wrapped in a sheath of prosciutto, then baked until crispy. A great dish to make ahead, and bake just before serving."


1 tablespoon olive oil

16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed

16 slices prosciutto


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with olive oil.

    Wrap one slice of prosciutto around each asparagus spear, starting at the bottom, and spiraling up to the tip. Place the wrapped spears on the prepared baking sheet.

    Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove, and shake the pan back and forth to roll the spears over. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until asparagus is tender, and prosciutto is crisp. Serve immediately.

Note: The difference being our appetizer had 4 stalks for each of us wrapped in what looked like mozzarella or another type of Italian cheese and the prosciutto wrapped on the outside of the cheese.


Let us talk a bit about last Christmas.  Many children were asking Santa for a toy that was very hard to find in stores, “Hatchimals.”

Hatchimals, the furry interactive toys that self-hatch out of an egg, created a frenzy when they hit the market last October. Stores quickly sold out of the toy, leaving parents frantically trying to score one in time for the holidays.

 "Hatchimals turned into a global phenomenon," said Tara Tucker, vice president of global communications for Spin Master. "The brand's in the market for only four months but it sold in 50 countries."

I started this weeks article, 1. Is the company coming out with another hit.  And 2. What is the Hatchimal selling for now?  Last year they angered some parents when bidding had the price as high as $500.

Well they are still available at Target, Toys R us, Wal Mart, etc. for what they sold for last Christmas, at least they are on line, $59.99.  The funny thing is Ebay sellers are still high for the product, $84 to $250 and Amazon is also high $79 to 199.95.  For some reason I would say there is little change in demand.

Spin Master is keen to keep the momentum going in 2017 with two new Hatchimal products.

The first is Hatchimals Glitter (priced at $59.99 each), which takes the original Hatchimals concept and adds sparkle. The eggs contain "Sparkly Pengualas" and "Shimmering Draggles" (both with sparkling fur) with new sounds, songs and games. Hatchimals Glitter will hit stores in July.

You might want to get out early this year and order 1 or 2 away of last years model.  Or   if you are one of those parents who get the newest thing for their children or grand-children.  You can wait and order in July for the newer ones.


  Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

  Chuck Norris can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.

  God can walk on water, Chuck can swim through land

  Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

  Chuck Norris can squeeze orange juice out of a lemon.

  Chuck Norris runs until the treadmill gets tired.

  Chuck Norris can make a fire by rubbing two ice cubes together.

  Chuck Norris makes onions cry.

  Chuck Norris had a grenade, he threw it, it killed 73 people and then exploded.

  Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.

  When an episode of Walker Texas Ranger was aired in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side.

  Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

  If you work in an office with Chuck Norris, don’t ask him for his three-hole-punch.

  Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.


Have a nice day . . . George

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older copies of my letter can be found at the end of