George Rucker's Stupendous Newsletter for May 1, 2018

Greetings,                                                      1 May 2018

This Saturday is the holiday Cinco De Mayo.  I hope everyone has a great day.  I think I will put in this letter one last recipe for the celebration.  Let us talk Margaritas as I have drunk many varieties.  I must say most  were all five star drinks.  When I think back on my life I think the best I have ever had was in Jimmy Buffett’s bar, Key West, Florida with my wife on one of our vacations.  I would call it a classic top shelf margarita.  Once I had a very good one made by the Disney staff in their Spanish restaurant that I forgot the name of.  The margarita I do remember as it was unusual, it was a Pomegranate Margarita.  I think I will find a recipe for each.

The Pomegranate Margarita

Ingredients

    1 cup tequila
    1 cup triple sec
    1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    4 cups ice
    1 cup pomegranate juice
    1 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

    Pour the tequila and triple sec into a pitcher. Sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar, and stir to dissolve. Add the ice, and pour in the pomegranate juice and lime juice. Stir to mix, then serve. You can add more tequila to taste if you're a professional.

One thing to mention is the rim of the glass for this margarita was a hibiscus blossom sugar.  You are on your own for its recipe.  One can purchase hibiscus blossom syrup.

Perhaps my favorite is just the simply old but Classic Margarita so Brush up on your skills in good time for Cinco de Mayo.

Ingredients:

    kosher salt
    ice cubes
    2 oz. tequila (I prefer silver or blanco)
    1 and ½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
    ½ oz. simple syrup (if you don't have any, make up a quick and easy batch or use agave nectar)
    ½ oz. Triple Sec

Directions:

    Rim a high ball glass with kosher salt.
    Put two big handfuls of ice cubes into a cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients. Shake for a good 10 seconds.
    Fill high ball glass half full of ice cubes. Pour contents of shaker over top.

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I have vacationed many times along the coast of both North and South Carolina.  Perhaps the most visited has been Hilton Head SC.  Upon every visit we usually take one or two side trips to historic Savannah GA.

While shopping in the Otis Base Exchange the other day I noticed among some of their new products was a brand boasting the island of Daufuskie SC.  During our visits to these two states I never seem to remember the name of this island or even remember seeing any signs to visit it.  I have been on many of the outer bank islands, sometimes just to go out to dinner and many times to photograph some light houses. 

This is from the Internet.   https://www.hiltonheadisland.org/daufuskie 

Take a trip to a place that can only be described as paradise beyond—Daufuskie Island. Without a bridge to the mainland, and only a few paved roads, Daufuskie Island is steeped in a simpler time. White sand beaches, ancient oaks, Spanish moss and historical landmarks all lend a rural, “back-in-time” feel, while an eclectic arts’ scene keeps the spirit of the island alive and thriving. Elegant homes nestle against white sand beaches, championship golf courses challenge the willing and lifelong residents greet you with hospitality reserved for friends, not strangers. This fascinating combinations of new and old, tradition and progress means Daufuskie is the perfect destination to step back in time, unplug from the every day and reconnect with friends and family. 

That does sound nice.   

Daufuskie Island has been inhabited for thousands of years and possesses a rich, interesting history and a culture that are truly unique. In fact, artifacts found on Daufuskie suggest the area was inhabited 9,000 years ago! From those very early years in Daufuskie's history through to European settlements and the spirit and culture of the Gullah people, the story of this little island is a remarkable one. Discover Daufuskie Island’s historic sites during a walking tour, or simply stroll around the island’s rustic roads and immerse yourself in a lowcountry mystique.  

It looks like the island is about five miles long and two miles wide.  Here is a section on food.

Dining on Daufuskie Island is a delight. Lowcountry chefs seek out the freshest local ingredients to create wholesome, innovative cuisine, which is served alongside stunning natural surroundings in restaurants across the Island. Join us for an unforgettable taste of Daufuskie Island.  

Where this island is visible from Hilton Head, I am sure I have seen it, just not visited it.

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https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a19735282/us-military-accidents-plane-helicopter-crash-navy-army/?src=nl&mag=pop&list=nl_pnl_news&date=041118 

What's Behind the Stark Rise in U.S. Military Accidents?

Collisions at sea and aviation accidents point to an overtaxed force.

The U.S. military has experienced a rash of military accidents in the air and at sea, with aircraft-related crashes up nearly 40 percent since 2013. From destroyers colliding with commercial vessels in the Western Pacific to a downed Harrier jump jet in Djibouti, the last several months have seen several highly publicized accidents, many of which involved fatalities. At least one investigation has correlated the rise in accidents with some defense budget cuts.

Although the Times investigation doesn’t include naval accidents at sea, the U.S. Navy also experienced a rash of accidents unprecedented in modern times. A trio of separate accidents in 2017 involving U.S. Navy surface warships sidelined two guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, killing 17 sailors and injuring eight more.

The Budget Control Act of 2011, commonly known as “the Sequestration,” triggered automatic defense spending cuts in 2013. As a result of the cuts, defense spending across the board was reduced. It's hard to separate correlation from causation here, but the evidence certainly suggests the cuts had the unanticipated effect of more and more dangerous accidents. Cutting procurement results in older, more difficult to maintain aircraft staying in service longer. Cutting maintenance makes’ aircraft more likely to be unavailable for flight operations and increases the chance of an undiagnosed issue will cause problems. Cutting on training leaves aircraft and ship crews less effective at their jobs, especially during unexpected situations.

At the same time, unlike the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, accidents in the U.S. Army’s helicopter force held steady during the same time period. DefenseNews reports the Army’s accident rate actually dropped after the Sequestration was enacted. It’s not entirely clear why the Army, which also had budget cuts forced on it, was successful in holding the line on accidents.

I found this article interesting that the lack of funding is the cause for accidents.  In my past military jobs I personally found that lack of personnel was the reason for downtime of equipment.  My position was of Production Analysis for four maintenance shops.  In addition did preventive maintenance and repair for two pieces of equipment assigned to our shop due to no other certified personnel assigned.   I produced a monthly report that showed equipment down time for our military unit.  This unit had many positions for Operation Personnel to monitor from all branches of the service.  Ops had approximately 500 personnel (Officers, Supervisors and actual worker bees) and roughly 50 Maintenance Personnel (again Officers, Supervisors and fixer bees) Our unit had one thing different from most Air Force units, it was the manpower ratio of Officer to Enlisted.  It was close to 1 officer to 60 enlisted personnel, not like other Air Force squadrons which is usually one to four enlisted.  Our Chief of Maintenance was a Captain and the Maintenance Superintendent was a Chief Master Sergeant and everyone else was E-7 or below.  The Maintenance section during that time did not have a Senior Master Sergeant who probably would have managed Maintenance Control instead of the man who was assigned to the slot.

That was the background of our unit.  Through attrition (discharges or transfers) we found ourselves down to 40 maintenance personnel, then 35, however when we hit 26 it was like the straw that broke the camels back.  Our equipment downtime for both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance went through the roof.  We could no longer  keep enough equipment positions available for the Ops personnel to monitor the enemy.  What we had was a serious mission degradation.  

Our Chief of Maintenance and one of the Master Sergeants left for our Command Headquarters at Kelly Air Force Base Texas.  This was to let Command know that 26-maintenance personnel could not properly maintain the equipment at a mission readiness level expected. The unit for all practical purposes was off the air.  

The result was we received five more maintenance personnel, which became the new level for our unit.  We stayed at 31 until the unit closed two years later.  At that point in time we shifted our Ops positions over to the National Security Agency, who by using satellite monitoring, as our country no longer had the need to be close proximity to those countries we were watching. 

I volunteered to stay behind as the unit closed.  We tore down the equipment and then packaged all for shipment back to the States.  

To this day I feel we were guinea pigs to see how many maintenance personnel could be lost before the system broke and degraded the mission.  Probably 50 was overkill as 31 could do the job, however of the 31 many were our best maintenance personnel.  Having the best can actually skew the results.  I have found that with maintenance personnel, time is the dividing line between poor, average, and great. There are those that say knowledge is what is needed.  I say knowledge does make repair faster but that just proves my point about time again.  We were divided into 4 levels of experience but the single nine level was actually not working on any of our equipment, this was our Chief Master Sergeant.  Those just learning (3 level) were in flux as our goal was to advance skills as quickly as possible.  The majority of our personnel were either 5 or 7 level personnel.  Myself I was a 7 level with Special Experience Identifiers (SEI) for most of the equipment that this unit used.  As mentioned above I did maintain two pieces of equipment as I was the only one with the SEI for the equipment. This knowledge was gained while working on either fixing or rebuilding the equipment at the depot level prior to this assignment.  

While thinking on this section, my thoughts drifted to what actual people cost, like money for their pay etc. so the Sequestration theory is possibly correct.  Without money you can’t hire maintenance people.

Another alert on this topic dated April 24th two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors experienced emergencies this month, the separate incidents occurring just a week apart from one another. On April 6th 2018, an F-22 Raptor of the Alaska-based 3rd Wing, flying out of Tyndall Air Force Base, experienced an engine failure but the fighter landed safely. A week later, another Raptor from the same squadron experienced a mishap during landing, damaging the belly of the aircraft.

Bummer, when it rains, it pours.

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 A truck loaded with a thousand of copies of Roget's Thesaurus crashed on the Interstate yesterday, shedding its load across the highway.

You should've seen it, witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplused, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, speechless, and perplexed! 

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 John and I were putting a roof on a barn we were building. We hauled up all the shingles and roofing nails before we began working on the roof. As John brought up the last of the supplies, he slipped and accidentally kicked over the ladder. I told him not to worry as someone would surely come by before the day was done.

We worked all day on the roof and finished it just before sundown. I told John that since no one had come by to pick up the ladder for us we were going to have to jump down. John said we could jump into the pigpen and the mud would break our fall. Looking down at the mud I asked John how far we would sink into the mud. John said it would come up to about our ankles.

With that I jumped and sank into the mud up to my neck. "Hey!" I yelled at John. "I thought you said it would only come up to my ankles?"

John replied, "So who told you to jump feet first?"     

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 https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/218030/easy-and-delicious-mexican-pork-chops/

Easy and Delicious Mexican Pork Chops

Ingredients

    cooking spray
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    6 boneless pork chops
    salt and ground black pepper to taste
    3 cups water
    1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
    1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
    ½ cup picante sauce
    1/4 cup taco seasoning mix
    1 green bell pepper, sliced
    1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

    Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and black pepper, and brown them on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Set chops aside.

    Mix the water, rice, tomato sauce, picante sauce, and taco seasoning in the prepared baking dish. Lay the chops into the rice mixture, and top with the green bell pepper slices. Cover the dish.

    Bake in the preheated oven until the chops are no longer pink inside and the rice is tender, about 1 hour. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a chop should read 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Uncover the dish, and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.

    Return to the oven, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 5 to 10 more minutes.

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China Is Building a Massive Network of Chemical Rainmakers

China wants to manufacture 10 billion tons of rainfall on the Tibetan Plateau by building tens of thousands of chemical furnaces. The rainmakers, developed by China's Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will burn chemical fuel to release silver iodide into the air. The silver iodide will allow water vapor to condense, forming clouds that will draw rain.

Hundreds of burners have already been set up in Tibet, a major water source for the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong and other rivers through China and Asia. A single cloud-seeding chamber could bring enough clouds and rainfall to cover a five-kilometer area, according to the South China Morning Post. 

China hopes to bring rainfall and snow to an area of over 1.6 million square kilometers (about three time the size of Spain). The furnaces were originally developed as a part of a Chinese military program to use weather modification for defense.

Some researchers question the safety of the rain system: releasing silver iodide at ground level can potentially cause health issues for workers in the area. And forcing rainfall over a specific area could mean unpredicted consequences for other areas: “If you’re making it rain where it wouldn’t otherwise, you’re taking water out of the air that would have rained elsewhere," Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University’s engineering school told Quartz. 

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Ever notice when geese fly in a V formation, one side is always longer than the other?

This is because there are more geese on that side . . . 

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Associated Press, Apr 25, 2018

A Buffalo museum has made a rare discovery within its own collection: a fully intact egg from the extinct elephant bird that until now, was thought to be fake.

Curators at the Buffalo Museum of Science were cataloging pieces in the museum's collection when they realized and confirmed that the foot-tall egg had been mislabeled as a model. Measuring 28 inches (71 centimeters) around, it weighs more than 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms).

Experts say there are fewer than 40 intact elephant bird eggs held in public institutions.

The flightless elephant bird was native to Madagascar. It grew to be 10 feet (3 meters) tall, weighed between 770 (349 kilograms) and 1,100 pounds (499 kilograms) and laid the largest eggs of any vertebrate, including dinosaurs.

The museum will unveil the egg to the public May 1.

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By David Grossman, Apr 23, 2018 

Coral, one of the planet's most photogenic marine invertebrates, has suffered through for a number of manmade reasons: Over fishing, blast fishing using explosives, urban runoff, and ocean acidification through rising temperatures. Since the 1980s, the planet has seen three global coral bleaching events, where coral expels their symbiotic algae and become bone-white. The last one ended in 2017.

For Phillip Cleves, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar and geneticist at Stanford, the question of editing coral genes is wrapped up in the animal's survival: “Up until now, there hasn’t been a way to ask whether a gene whose expression correlates with coral survival actually plays a causative role. There’s been no method to modify genes in coral and then ask what the consequences are," he says in a press release.

For decades, coral and coral reefs have been dying off at high rates. But a powerful new ally could be emerging: Scientists at Stanford have proven for the first time that the gene-editing process known as CRISPR can work on coral, offering hopes of making stronger breeds in the future.

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An Odd Tale

There was once a man named Odd. People made fun of him because of his name so he decided to keep his gravestone blank when he died.

Now when people pass by the burial site, they point and say, "That's odd."

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Apr 27, 5:16 PM EDT

Romaine lettuce outbreak update: 98 people sick in 22 states

By MIKE STOBBE  AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- A nasty strain of bacteria that can cause severe illness is what's driving a food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, health officials said Friday.

The government now has reports of 98 people who got sick in 22 states. Forty-six people have been hospitalized, including 10 with kidney failure, which are an unusually high number of hospitalizations.

The outbreak has been blamed on E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. While most E. coli bacteria are not harmful, some produce toxins that can cause severe illness.

The growing season in Yuma is pretty much over, but it's possible some illnesses will still occur, said Matthew Wise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent illness began on April 20.

In the meantime, people should not buy or eat romaine unless they know it's not from Yuma. The Yuma region provides most of the romaine sold in the U.S. during the winter.

"We haven't been able to guarantee that there's no product coming out of Yuma at this point," added Stic Harris of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during a briefing for reporters.

While officials have tracked the outbreak to chopped and whole head romaine from Yuma, they don't know if it was tainted in the fields or at other point, like during packaging or distribution. The types of E. coli that causes illness can be spread through contaminated water or food, or through contact with infected animals or persons, the CDC says.

The last large E. coli outbreak, like this involved spinach grown in California in 2016. Officials suspect cattle contaminated a nearby stream, and wild pigs roaming the area spread it to fields.

So far in Arizona, officials have tied eight of the 98 cases to whole head romaine lettuce grown at Harrison Farms in Yuma. Those eight cases were at a jail in Alaska. That farm's harvest has ended, Harris said.

The FDA is looking at two dozen other farms as the source of the chopped romaine tied to illnesses.

Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin were added Friday to the states with reported food poisoning cases.

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I will see some of you later in the morning during exercise.  

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