George Rucker's Stupendous Newsletter for June 20, 2017

Well met once again,

I missed something in the news the other day.  I am a little ashamed as it was something in the environmental area of the news as environmental protection was the last 13 years of my work life.  Between 80 and 90 ducks died in the Lincoln Memorial reflection pool.  Many would just jump to conclusion and say something like poison from mankind or poison from fertilizer being used in the grass.  In my mind I thought it was something in the filtration process for the water went amuck.

The National Park Service (NPS)  says a necropsy performed on the ducks revealed their death was caused by "high levels of parasites that developed and grew in snails that live in the pool."

Chemicals alone are not sufficient enough to fully reduce the parasite and/or the snail population, so the pool must be drained and cleaned, NPS says.

NPS says humans who come into contact with the parasite could develop a "swimmer's itch:" an allergic reaction in the form of a skin rash. They say it is not contagious and rarely requires medical attention.

It will take around two days for the pool to be fully drained, NPS says. Crews are set to clean the pool on Tuesday, June 13 and the pool is expected to begin refilling on Friday, June 16.

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Unless you are totally avoiding the news, you should be aware of the antics of North Korea (NK).  NK is hellbent on developing missile delivery systems and atomic bombs.
Conventional wisdom holds that it will be years before North Korea can credibly threaten the United States with a nuclear attack. Kim Jong Un’s scientists are still testing only low-yield nuclear weapons, the thinking goes, and have yet to place them on ballistic missiles capable of reaching America’s West Coast.

For South Korea the danger is more immediate. According to physicist David Albright, the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, the North Koreans have between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons and can build as many as five more every year. If Mr. Kim were to detonate one of these bombs in the atmosphere 40 miles above Seoul, it could inflict catastrophic damage on South Korea’s electric power grid, leading to a prolonged blackout that could have deadly consequences.

This tidbit of information lead me to look into electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons generated by detonation of a high-altitude nuclear weapon.  It appears that Russia in 2004 passed on plans to NK for EMP weapons.    Two North Korean satellites currently orbit the earth on trajectories that take them over the U.S.

EMP is not mere theory. In 1962 the United States detonated a 1.4-megaton nuclear warhead over the South Pacific, 900 miles southwest of Hawaii. Designated “Starfish Prime,” the blast destroyed hundreds of street lights in Honolulu, caused electrical surges on airplanes in the area, and damaged at least six satellites. Only Hawaii’s undeveloped electric power-transmission infrastructure prevented a prolonged blackout. It was the era of vacuum-tube electronics. We are living in the digital age.

The U.S. and South Korea should ensure their ballistic-missile defenses are effective and harden their electric power grids against EMP effects as soon as possible. The day of reckoning could come sooner than anyone in either country thinks.

Sorry to scare you but this is not a joke.

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Farmer John lived on a quiet rural highway. But, as time went by, the traffic slowly built up at an alarming rate. The traffic was so heavy and so fast that his chickens were being run over at a rate of three to six a day.

So one day Farmer John called the sheriff's office and said, "You've got to do something about all of these people driving so fast and killing all of my chickens."

"What do you want me to do?" asked the sheriff.

"I don't care, just do something about those crazy drivers!"

So the next day he had the county workers go out and erected a sign that said:

SLOW: SCHOOL CROSSING

Three days later Farmer John called the sheriff and said, "You've got to do something about these drivers. The 'school crossing' sign seems to make them go even faster."

So, again, the sheriff sends out the county workers and they put up a new sign:

SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY

That really made the drivers speed up even faster. So Farmer John called and called and called every day for three weeks.

Finally, he asked the sheriff, "Your signs are doing no good. Can I put up my own sign?"

The sheriff told him, "Sure thing, put up your own sign." He was going to let the Farmer John do just about anything in order to get him to stop calling everyday to complain.

The sheriff got no more calls from Farmer John.

Three weeks later, curiosity go the best of the sheriff and he decided to give Farmer John a call. "How's the ! problem with those drivers? Did you put up your sign?"

"Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since then. I've got to go. I'm very busy." He hung up the phone.

The sheriff was really curious now and he thought to himself, "I'd better go out there and take a look at that sign... It might be something that WE could use to slow down drivers..."

So the sheriff drove out to Farmer John's house, and his jaw dropped the moment he saw the sign. It was spray-painted on a sheet of wood:

NUDIST COLONY
Go slow and watch out for chicks!!

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New college classes in the mill and/or what the hell is wrong with people.

Professor Peter Ward, who teaches in the school’s Department of Biology, a professor at the University of Washington claimed that "the amount of stress that Americans are going through" because of Donald Trump's election will have an "evolutionary consequence." (Note from me...”good lord what next, – stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump — there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.  How do crazy people like this get to keep their jobs?  And hey, I managed Obama with out going off the deep end.

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There are readers who like to read about some of my past adventures.  I usually think of them when something, some sound, or possibly a smell within my the area of my sensation which make me remember something back in time.  It is my idea of time travel.  While thinking about it sometimes some artistic embellishment occurs.

My current neighbor has three mustangs, all the same year, 1989.  He works on the engines frequently so I hear the typical mustang throb of those V-8s.  All are standard shifters and he makes a point of winding out each gear to the max until his car can no longer be heard, at least by me.  One thing is he does not do is screech his wheels when leaving.  This is probably due to that being his house and the police would take notice of all the black tire marks.  The smell of gasoline and the engine sound take me back to my 14th year on the planet.  There were three of us in the neighborhood who pretty much went everywhere together, probably a couple more but not within the mile of my house.

We dress pretty much alike, even our hair was similar, typical boys of the 50s, black leather jackets, duck tail haircuts, jeans and boots.  Bob was the first to reach 16 and get his licence.  His first car was a 1950 Ford with the chrome from a 1956 Ford Victoria.  It was loud, on a quiet night I could hear it from about a half a mile away.

Ken was second to reach 16 and was probably the best driver I have ever known.  The two of us would beg local farmers for the cars and run them around the dirt roads on the farm.  Sometime we might have to come up with $5 or possibly tow it home to try and fix it. The oldest one was a 1929 Essex, which we could never get running.  The second pair were 1937 Chevy coups, one with no brakes and one with no clutch.  We made an oval track on his fathers back hill, now part of an express way going to Bradley Field International Airport.  I would push him up the hill and he would hold me back going down as I was the one without breaks.  If we rolled one of the cars onto its side we would just go and get his fathers tractor and pull it back onto its wheels.  It the engine was still able to run we would be off again.

As I remember his first road worthy car was a 1949 Ford.  It did not have a muffler and his house was about a quarter mile away.  I swear I could hear him put the key in the ignition.  That car was so noisy.  He was always buying parts to make his car faster. Things like manifolds, 4 barrel carburetors, 3/4 race cam etc.  Those days if you filled up your car with gasoline you could get change from a $5 bill.  We usually just asked for a dollars worth as we were always poor.  Those were fun times and not stressful.

The day I turned 16, just a few months after Ken, I expected my Grandmother to sign for my licence.  Well I got a shock, it was the first time she ever said no.  She did not think I was responsible enough to drive on the roads.  Perhaps she had witness one too many rollovers or saw us chop a cars top off to make a convertible and head into the woods.  Maybe it was Bob or Ken screeching their tires leaving her house when we were off for an evening.  It could have been one of the 1000 reasons as I was not the best behaved child and also probably why I was willing to enter the Navy at 17.  I had to wait until age 21 to get my licence, I passed the test in my girlfriends car a 57 Ford, with is continental kit, her vehicle was 22 feet long.  The first car I bought for myself was a 49 Mercury as I was trying to look like James Dean, the cultural icon of my era, and he drove one in a movie.  The movie was “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955).  That was me to a tee.

Shortly there after, with my grandmother passed all changed, I went back into the service, only the Air Force this time, which was probably the best thing I could have done.  The AF let me pursue my dream of being an electronics technician, the Navy for some reason wanted me to stay a Radioman.

By the way, Ken was my sand box friend as our mothers would sit and talk while we played in the dirt.  His son now gets my weekly letters but Ken also has passed on.

Nothing seems to be forever.

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It is time to sneak in an invention. . .

This week we will talk about Dynamite.

For Swedish chemist and prolific inventor Alfred Nobel, explosives were the family business.  But they would also prove the source of one of his greatest inventions and the foundation of a global legacy.

While studying chemistry and engineering in Paris, Nobel met Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, the inventor of nitroglycerin, the highly unstable liquid explosive containing glycerin, nitric acid and sulfuric acid.  The substance was considered too dangerous to have any practical application, but Nobel and his family recognized its tremendous potential and began using it in their factories.

After his studies and travel to the United States, Nobel returned home to work in his family’s explosive factories in Sweden.  In 1864, Alfred’s younger brother Emil, along with several others, was killed in an explosion at one of the plants.  Nobel was devastated by the loss and determined to create a safer version of nitroglycerin.

In 1867, the scientist discovered that mixing nitroglycerin with siatomaceous earth, a soft porous, sedimentary deposit of fossilized remains, created a stable paste that could be sculpted into short sticks.  Nobel envisioned the product being used by mining companies to blast through rock.  He patented his invention the same year, calling it “dynamite,” from the Greek word ‘dynamis’, meaning “power.”  The new explosives transformed the mining, construction and demolition industries.  It allowed railroad companies to safely blast through mountains to lay track, opening up new avenues for exploration and commerce.  Nobel became a very rich man.

It soon became apparent, however that the same explosive force used to conquer mountains could be equally effective in decimating enemy troops.  Although its inventor self-identified as a pacifist, military regiments began using dynamite in combat – indeed, cannons loaded with dynamite were used in the Spanish-American War.

Nobel was determined that his legacy would not be rooted in destruction.  In his will, written in Paris on November 27, 1895, he specified that most of his estate should be used to fund prized in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace and be awarded to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”  After his death in 1896, the equivalent of what would be about $250 million today was used to establish his foundation, and the first Nobel prizes were bestowed in 1901, Today, it is this legacy that continues to inspire the world.


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A Roman walks into a bar and holds up two fingers, “Sir can I have five beers please.”

You might need to think about this one.  The funny thing is I got it right away and I am Polish.  Just saying.

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This joke is probably in poor taste, but here goes anyway,

Brian walked into work and saw his coworker looking particularly sour. “Hey what’s wrong buddy?” His friend looked up with a forlorn expression on his face.

“You remember last month how my Grandmother’s sister passed on and left me $2,000?”
“Yes,” said Brian nodding his head.
“And you remember how the month before that her brother passed on and left me $5000?
“Uh huh” said Brian again.
“Well this month is almost over,” said the coworker with a wave of his hand “and………………..NOTHING!”

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Looking for some better-for-you dinner recipes after the holidays? These dishes are packed with veggies, offer a good deal of protein or fiber and are lower in calories per serving than your average casserole.

Taco-Stuffed Pasta Shells

8 oz uncooked jumbo pasta shells (about 24 shells from 12-oz box)
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix
1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen™ organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 package (8 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend (2 cups)
1 cup diced plum (Roma) tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steps

Heat oven to 350°F. Cook and drain pasta shells as directed on box.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Add taco seasoning mix, crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of the shredded cheese; stir well until cheese is melted.

Fill each pasta shell with about 1 tablespoon beef mixture; place in ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish. Top filled shells with plum tomatoes and chopped cilantro; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve warm.

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My search engine is “DuckDuckGo,” my wife uses Google.  I get an email every once in a while from DuckDuckGo.  I have also installed the DuckDuckGo, “Privacy Badger” onto my computer.   This email today had some interesting information.

Last email we discussed the ads that track you across the internet. But, did you know this tracking can actually cost you money?! money flying away

Retailers are increasingly charging “personalized” or “dynamic” prices based on your online footprint. They manipulate prices, trying to charge you the max they think you’re willing to pay. You could be sitting right next to someone, looking at the same online product, and be charged more just because of a website you visited.

You're probably familiar with how common this practice is in the airline industry. That's all thanks to Google's ITA QPX Software; which provides solutions to airlines to price "by market segment, point-of-sale, channel and even user."

That profit comes right out of your pocket because they decided you were willing to pay more for your flight based on tracking.

The worst part is, this sneaky pricing tactic has long been used in other industries. The Wall Street Journal ran a study on the matter as far back as 2012:

From the December 24, 2012 Wall Street Journal, written by three people so they could see the results.  I also paraphrased for brevity.

It was the same Swingline stapler, on the same Staples.com website, but for Kim, the price was $15.79, while the price on Trudie’s screen, just a half mile away was $14.29.

.....How about them apples...

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Here is something from the blog of Mr. Money Moustache regarding cell phone service.  I just switched to the one mentioned in an older blog three months ago and will not change this soon.  I will however think about it.  I am now paying $23.59 with the taxes and happy with the phone and service..

 From 2012 through 2015, both Mrs. MM and I enjoyed using Republic Wireless for mobile phone service. It’s $20 per month for unlimited calling and texting on your choice of good low-cost smartphones, including 1 GB of data (and additional gigs are cheap too).

We recently changed to Google Fi (also a bargain at $20 per month plus $10 per gig) – the reason is that the phone works in almost every country at no additional charge. For me, this has been a revolutionary perk during international travel, which I do for at least 2 months per year.

With Google Fi, international texts are free, wifi calls are free, international cell network voice calls incur a small per-minute call, and data is the same price in Ecuador, Edmonton and Eugene Oregon – always 10 bucks a gig. I use about half a gig ($5) per month on average, even with a blogger lifestyle.

Tip – get the Nexus 5x phone ($200-$250) and skip the overpriced Pixel ($600+ and barely any better), for now.

Latest article on http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/09/20/google-fi-review/

Bonus: You can start things off with a $20 bonus if you sign up for Google Fi by using my referral code: https://g.co/fi/r/N3K8HU

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The Reason I’m Tired!

For a couple of years I’ve been blaming it on lack of sleep and too much pressure from my job, but now I found out the real reason: I’m tired because I’m overworked.

The population of this country is 237 million. 104 million are retired. That leaves 133 million to do the work.

There are 85 million in school, which leaves 48 million to do the work.

Of this there are 29 million employed by the federal government, leaving 19 million to do the work.

2.8 million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 16.2 million to do the work.

Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Governments and that leaves 1.4 million to do the work.

At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals, leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.

Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons. That leaves just two people to do the work.

You and me. And you’re sitting at your computer reading jokes!

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Bankruptcy Joke

“I just can’t take it anymore” cried Larry to his Priest. “No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to put bread on the table!” “

Larry, listen closely to what I am going to tell you” said the Priest. “Go to a quiet place outdoors where you can spend some time with the Lord. Sit down with the Bible in front of you and let the wind turn the pages. Close your eyes and think about the Lord. When you open your eyes, see what page the Bible is opened to, and there you will find your message.”

Three months later the Priest was walking up the church steps when he spotted Larry speeding by in a brand new Lexus. “Larry!” screamed the priest incredulously. “What happened? Let me hear your story!”

“Well,” said Larry “it was just as you said. I sat in a quiet place, closed my eyes, and when I opened them the answer was right in front of me. It was opened to Chapter 11!”

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Another week’s letter finished.  I will see some of you later this morning, for others, smile and have a nice day.

George

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

There are some older copies with additions from Walter, who lately has been inserting the newest MIT programing languages for pre-school children.  I think he trying to build a nation of programmers.  Go to the foot of www.capecod-beaches.com.