George Rucker's Newsletter for June 5, 2018  

Greetings once again,                                              5 June 2018

Well I am home once again and now have access to spelling and grammatical corrections on my word processor.  My last three letters were written on what would look like a scroll as I could not tell page length or misspelled words.  It is the cheap word processor that comes with a laptop.  I can now do as much research on the topics I wish to cover.


First things first, I once said I would not put things into my letter that would make you buy anything or do anything but I am in a member of a military group friend list, that includes many of the people I worked with or taught while in the 102nd Fighter Wing are members.  I do think this is a reasonable request and if anyone wishes to donate the items, feel free.  Here is the request,

Sharon Linkroum
407 AEG/ 179 EAMXS
Unit 63314
APO AE 09319

Ok. I just posted this on my Adult Coloring group page, but wanted to post it here also.

Hi everyone. I am currently deployed in the desert (yet AGAIN). I am shocked at the lack of coloring books for adults at the Chapel Annex and the MWR here on base. It seems everyone at home who sends packages (and we've gotten dozens, btw) doesn't take into consideration that adult coloring is one of the most popular hobbies. We've got thousands of Sudoku, word find, scramble, and every other puzzle book you can think of but no coloring books or pencil/markers. So, if anyone out there would like to donate anything to the troops (does not have to be new, we'll take anything you don't use or bought and didn't like), please mail to me and I will share with my co-workers. It would be greatly appreciated.

If you send one, I thank you.  I plan to send some myself.  During my 20 years of service there was about a 20 to 1 men to women ratio, perhaps more.  During this vacation, while staying on military bases, I noticed the ratio has changed to about 10 to 1 due to more women serving in the armed forces.  This would not have been a requested item during my tour of service even if they had been invented.  I see it as a good way to while away time.  During my war we drank beer and played a lot of volley ball.


Ebola virus outbreak of 2018 is still out there.  As of 20 May or three weeks back from this letter posting we have Twenty-six people have died in the current outbreak, which started in remote rural areas of Equateur Province, in the northwestern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in early April.  It has spread for the first time to a major city there, the World Health Organization reported on Thursday, raising the threat of a far larger contagion.

On Thursday, a senior Doctors Without Borders aid worker said that two patients infected with Ebola who fled their hospital on Monday night potentially expose dozens of more people to the virus.

In a briefing in Geneva, Jean-Clement Cabrol, a doctor who had just returned from Congo, said "the patients were in the active phase of the disease, vomiting" when their families removed them from the hospital, put them on motorcycles, and took them to a religious gathering of 50 people. Ebola is contagious through bodily fluids, and both patients, who were at an acute phase of the illness, died within hours.


While in Florida visiting relatives,  I had a Cuban type of food at their house.  I am a fan of many types of Spanish foods.  This one is now on the list and is called “Ropa Vieja.”  Shredded beef and vegetables that resemble a heap of colorful rags  – that’s Ropa Vieja.  From the Spanish term for “old clothes,” this is one of Cuba’s most popular and beloved dishes.  It is so popular in fact that it’s one of the country’s designated national dishes.

This dish dates back to the Middle Ages of Spanish Sephardi, a loose adaptation of a dish that remains popular in southern and central Spain.  Traditionally it was a way to stretch the leftovers of stews such as puchero or cocida, both of which are garbanzo-based dishes as is the original Spanish version of Ropa Vieja.  This dish was later taken to Cuba where the Cubans made it their own.

Have a look around the internet at all the ropa vieja recipes and virtually all of them call for flank.  That piqued my curiosity because here’s the thing:  Flank steak is from the bottom hard-working muscle area of the cow (i.e., very lean/very little fat) so it not only has less flavor than some other cuts of beef, it’s also notoriously tough.  When living in the Phillippines, I usually made jerky from this cut of meat due to its lack of fat and tough grain.  

Ultimate Ropa Vieja (A National Dish of Cuba)

 Author Kimberly Killebrew

    2 pounds chuck ask your butcher to cut it taller than wider so you get long strands of beef along the grain or flank or skirt steak if you can find one. (Many lean cuts also work such as eye of the round)                
    1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
    1 of each large green red and yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
    4 cloves garlic minced
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    ½ cup dry white wine
    1 cup chicken broth chicken broth has a stronger/deeper flavor than beef broth
    1 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
    1 6 ounce can tomato paste
    2 bay leaves
    1 large carrot cut in half
    1 large stalk celery cut in half
    1 cup Lindsay Naturals Green Olives rinsed and drained (you can slice them if you prefer)
    ½ cup thinly sliced Lindsay Roasted Red Peppers drained
    1/4 cup Lindsay Pimientos drained
    2 tablespoons Lindsay Capers rinsed and drained
    1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley


    Pat the beef dry and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Once very hot add the beef and brown generously on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. (Do not discard the drippings and blackened bits in the pot, they are key to the flavor.)
    Add the sliced vegetables to the pot and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until caramelized. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add the white wine and bring it to a rapid boil, deglazing the bottom of the pan (scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan).
    Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.
    Return the roast to the pot along with the pieces of carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3-4 hours or until the beef is fork tender and falls apart easily. Discard the celery, carrots and bay leaves.
    Transfer the beef to a plate and shred it.
    Stir in the olives, roasted red peppers, capers and pimientos. Simmer uncovered to thicken the sauce for 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

For a variation on traditional beef you can also use pork or chicken (bone-in/skin-on for the most flavor or boneless breast or thighs).

Some prefer crock pots for this recipe.

The above is served with rice, rice and beans, or mashed potatoes. 


Large Sea Creatures Spotted at Northeast Canyons and Seamounts

BOSTON- During a recent trip to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument, biologists were greeted with an abundance of diverse, large, unusual, and even endangered marine life.

Scientists with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium observed dozens of dolphins mixing with schools of pilot whales plus more than a dozen of the very rarely seen and mysterious Sowerby’s beaked whales.

The researchers, aboard a twin engine airplane, also spotted endangered, Moby Dick-like sperm whales as well as the second largest species of sharks in the world and the bizarre-looking giant ocean sunfish or mola mola, about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod.

The Northeast Canyons marine monument serves as a critical hotspot of biodiversity located on the edge of the continental shelf, where the shallow seas off of New England drop sharply into the deep waters of the northwestern Atlantic.

These aerial sightings help researchers understand how the species are using the richly bio-diverse monument waters and deep coral canyons at different times of year and for different purposes.



A Newly Discovered Solar System Object Hints at Hidden Planet Nine

Astronomers found a strange dwarf world that provides even more evidence that a giant planet is lurking at the edge of our solar system.

There might be a large planet lurking somewhere at the very edge of our solar system, and astronomers are hunting for it. While they have yet to find direct evidence of the planet, a recent discovery provides yet more indirect evidence that the planet does, in fact, exist. Astronomers found a small solar system body with a strange orbit that they say can only be explained by another, bigger planet hiding out there somewhere.

Astronomers have speculated for a few years that a ninth planet may be orbiting the sun at a great distance, and have spent the past few years searching for it. They first started the hunt back in 2016 after looking at a handful of distant solar system objects and noticing something strange. These objects, all orbiting further away than Pluto, had something similar in common: they orbited the sun at a distinct angle from all of the inner planets.


Plastic Bag Found at the Bottom of the Mariana Trench

Nearly 7 miles beneath the surface.  By  David Grossman, May 15, 2018

Scientists have confirmed that plastic bags litter the very depths of the Earth's oceans inside the Mariana Trench. The findings highlight a polluted region of the ocean often ignored: the very bottom.

Scientists from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and the United Nations were able to determine that "plastics are ubiquitous even at depths >6000 m (over 3.7 miles down) and 92 percent was single-use products." A plastic bag was even found at 10,898 meters (nearly 7 miles down) below the surface inside the Trench.

Their findings have been published in Marine Policy.

JAMSTEC launched its Deep-sea Debris Database in March 2017, meant to archive images and video of ocean debris that have been collected since 1983. These images have been collected deep-sea submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. The database has grown to capturing 5,010 individual dives.

From those 5,010 dives, scientists were able to count 3,425 man-made debris items. Over a third of these objects were macro-debris, defined as being over 20 mm (0.78 inches), and of the macro-debris 89 percent was able to be identified as single-use items like plastic bags.

The deeper the study got, the higher these numbers rose. Below 6,000 meters, 52 percent of the debris was macro-debris. And of that number, 92 percent was single-use.

Other debris included metal (26 percent), rubber (1.8 percent), fishing gear (1.7 percent), glass (1.4 percent), cloth/paper/lumber (1.3 percent), and other anthropogenic items (35 percent).

The finding was met with horror by environmental groups. "It bears repeating that the plastic bag in question was added to JAMSTEC’s Deep-Sea Debris Database twenty years ago. This problem didn’t start today or this year, or even this decade. But it will only get worse if we do not take action." said the Ocean Conservancy in a statement.

Even with all those dives, humanity has still only seen 5 percent of the ocean. A new XPRIZE challenge is pushing scientists to develop new methods of deep-sea exploration. The better understanding of the damage being down there, the better chance there is of correcting the damage.


One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice,

"Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room." 

A long silence was broken at last by a shaken little voice saying, "The big sissy."


People are fleeing Silicon Valley for Nevada, Texas and Idaho, report finds 

By Katy Murphy | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: May 31, 2018 at 2:36 p.m. | UPDATED: June 1, 2018 at 7:33 a.m.

The heart of the nation’s tech sector, the astronomically expensive Santa Clara County, leads the state in residents looking to move out of town, a new report found.

Using property searches and census data, analysts at found that a larger share of residents are leaving Santa Clara County — home to tech behemoths Google and Apple — than any other county in California. Nearby San Mateo County, where Facebook is headquartered, came in second, just ahead of Los Angeles County.

“They’re looking for affordability and not finding it in Santa Clara County,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for

The Bay Area has long been a costly place to live, but a tight housing supply paired with an unprecedented economic boom pushed rents and real estate even further out of reach for all but the most affluent residents. Low- and middle-income families and younger workers unable to find apartments or houses they can afford have been forced further afield, a trend that has led to ultra-long commutes and perennially clogged freeways.

The top out-of-state destinations for the South Bay exodus are the areas in and around Phoenix, Arizona; Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho — where homes are $750,000 to $965,000 less than the typical property in Santa Clara.


Turning 50 Jokes & Over 50 Jokes?

They say that when you’re over 50 one of the first things to go is your… now what on earth was I writing?

8 minutes later

Turning 50 Jokes & Over 50 Jokes?

You’re getting past it when getting lucky means you’ve won the lottery.

Warning signs you’re getting old are when you say things such as ‘In my day’ or ‘When I was a lad’.

I’m at that age where my back goes out more than I do.

I’m getting to an age when I can only enjoy the last sport left. It is called hunting for my spectacles.

I’ve got everything I always had. Only it’s six inches lower.

Now I’m over 50 my doctor says I should go out and get more fresh air and exercise. I said, ‘ All right, I’ll drive with the car window open.

You know you’ve had one birthday too many when your cake collapses from the weight of the candles.

Are you going to have candles on your birthday cake? “No, it’s a birthday party, not a torchlight procession.”

You’re getting past it when you invite women to spend a moderately grubby weekend with you.

Old age is when candlelight dinners are no longer romantic because you can’t read the menu.

You’re getting past it when making love turns you into a wild animal – a sloth.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the time he killed himself.

At 50 you get the urge, but can’t remember what for.

You know your getting older when a fortune teller offers to read your face.

When you’re over 50 you can still do all the things you did when you were 17, that’s if you don’t mind making a complete fool of yourself.

From birth to age 18, a girl needs good parents, from 18-35 she needs good looks, from 35-55 she needs a good personality, and from 55 on she needs cash.

You’re getting past it when you don’t need to chase women anymore – I just hook them with my walking stick.

You can only hold your stomach in for so many years.

You’re getting past it when you look forward to a dull evening in.


Earlier in this letter I posted a recipe for Ropa Vieja.  I think it is best served with mashed potatoes, or better yet garlic mashed potatoes.  To make the garlic softer and to add a little extra flavor to the potatoes I think cooking them together is best.  Just remember to crush them prior to boiling with the potatoes.  I usually use the heal of a large knife and hit the knife with my hand while resting on top of a clove of garlic.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Perfectly easy and classic creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes made with red bliss potatoes, garlic, milk and butter in just 30 minutes. The perfect side dish for any occasion.

    3 pounds red potatoes
    3 cloves garlic
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    ½  cup whole milk
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


    Scrub the potatoes (do not peel them) clean and cut them into quarters.

    Crush the garlic by putting it on a cutting board and either using a heavy plate or the flat of your knife and crushing with your palm.

    Place the potatoes and garlic into a large stockpot, covered with water by about two inches.

    Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.

    Drain the water very well, then add in the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

    Mash well with a potato masher until creamy, about 3-5 minutes. 


Want to watch a duck hunting video?  Here is one sent to me from the Duck Commander.

Not for the squeamish.


Autocorrect has become my worst enema.


New word: Procaffeinating (n). - the tendency to not start anything until you’ve had your coffee.


That is all for this week.  See you next Tuesday.


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