Author Archives: Paul T Morrison

Game On!

Onions and peppers? Of course onions and peppers!!

Onions and peppers? Of course onions and peppers!!

Monday, Sunny and in the 70s. Opening Day. Yankees are in the basement and no need to watch anymore hockey. Game On!

Let’s see, Bruins SUCK! No need to watch them. Sox will bury the Yankees in the basement all weekend. Then, Monday, Sunny and in the 70s. Opening Day. Sweet Jesus Rubber Duck scored some primo tickets! Need to practice eating the Italian Sausage baby.

Is Fluoride an Evil Conspiracy?

Next month on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, the Town of Rockport is going to vote on whether to retain fluoride in their water system. Because I sound like I know what I am talking about when it comes to science I have been asked by several groups to voice my opinion, debate in public, discuss the finer points of a paper or papers pointing out something good or bad about fluoride.

But I won’t. I am not a biochemist or public health scientist. I can tell you the myriad ways you can analyze the expression level of thousands of genes from one human cell, (my current interest is single-cell genomics), but fluoridation is not something I study in detail.

So what do I do and how am I going to vote? I do what I always do when I have a scientific question that I am fuzzy on. I ask the scientific experts in the relevant field. I look at the consensus of the National Academy of Sciences which is charged with the responsibility of advising the President on scientific matters. (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has some NAS members on faculty so sometimes this is as easy as walking down the hall.) In this case I also check the consensus science from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, the American Dental Association, and other experts who have studied the question and written reviews. Since we have been adding fluoride to water for 65 years these reviews are extensive. They study the hundreds and hundreds of peer reviewed papers on the subject; there are old reviews and new reviews, they all say the same thing.

The one thing I will not do is google for the answer. That would lead to the Fluoride Action Network, or Dr Mercola, or Dr Oz, or the Food Babe, or Mike Adams of Natural News, or god forbid Alex Jones of Infowars. All of those sites are anti-science full of pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo that cherry picks when it cites papers, some of them even from Harvard and MIT. The problem is that all those sites have an axe to grind. They want you to fear something so they can sell you the filter or the cure or a book. The worst thing to do is to google for the information you want that supports your preconceived notion. This is called conformational bias. This is something even the best scientists have to watch out for because it is an easy trap to fall into. That is why scientists double blind their experiments so that their own bias does not invalidate the results.

So if you go with consensus science;  fluoride is in the top five for awesome public health achievements in the past century. It saves your teeth, young and old, and there is no downside to one part per million fluoride added to your town water system.

If you go with the websites I mentioned, fluoride is a poisonous toxic waste that is being dumped into the water because Big Chemical does not know where else to put it. Big Government lets them because everyone is making money and why not medicate our citizens to make them more compliant? On most of those websites it is a big conspiracy along with vaccines and chemtrails.

To me it is simple. On the one side is anti-science. Global warming denialists, anti-vaxxers, anti-evolutionists, and anti-fluoride groups. On the other side there is real science.

You can vote to keep the fluoride in the water, or you can vote against all consensus scientific opinion and vote to take it out.

– Paul T Morrison
Principal Scientist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Principal Associate in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School

Megan Fox loves the taste of Rockport water.

Megan Fox loves the taste of Rockport water.

A Chance to Own a Part of History!

By now you have all heard of the party on Friday at Cape Ann Giclee but did you know that there will be four and only four Rubber Duck signed photographs that were shot during the original meeting of Homie and the Rubber Duck?  Four people will be lucky enough to walk out with a piece of history!

And there will be other artist’s stuff and beer and Rubber Duck.

This is the first moment when Homie's eye (just his left one) locked onto Rubber Duck.

This is the first moment when Homie’s eye (just his left one) locked onto Rubber Duck.

Come Party and Check Out The Latest Photography From Your Favorite GMG Contributors 
Print Sizes 17” x 22” Priced at $60 Theory Being That We Want The Pieces To Be Affordable and Get Them On People’s Walls Rather Than Stacked Up In A Gallery Somewhere.
April 10, 2015 from 5 to 8PM
20 Maplewood Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
(978) 546-7070

The Essex River Race May 16, 2015; Registration Open Now

Go to the Essex River Race website here and register for the tune-up paddle on the Essex River on May 16. The Cape Ann Rowing Club does an awesome job putting on both the Essex and Blackburn. Forty bucks and you get a cool T-Shirt, some grub and a beer after the paddle on the Essex. As Joey says, “Clearly you do not need to be a fine specimen of athleticism to finish this race.” He’s right. But it will get you out there for at least a few paddles in the next month to clean off the cobwebs and get rid of the acorns that the squirrels have hidden inside your boat.

And it is only 111 days until the Blackburn Challenge!


Rubber Duck Listened to a GMG Podcast!

This photo is in honor of Aurelia Nelson and her bringing a GMG sticker and a rubber duck to France for a wedding. Rubber Duck loves weddings.

This photo is in honor of Aurelia Nelson (North Shore 104.9) and her bringing a GMG sticker and a rubber duck to France for a wedding. Rubber Duck loves weddings. (Aurelia, send photos to RD, Joey will just burn them.) Joey’s retelling of Capt. Tom Ellis of the Lannon mistaking the Rubber Duck as the GMG mascot was also heart warming. Homie loves that story! Then there was the part where Peter tried to bring up RD visiting Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute. Did Joey try to strangle him?

133 Days Until The Blackburn Challenge

Joey’s Christmas present was the deluxe GMG baseball cap. When he gave it to me he said, “I want to see you wear it in this year’s Blackburn Challenge.”

Joey. Mister Motivator. I did that paddle five times around Cape Ann and last year I took it off. So I was thinking instead of the GMG baseball cap I would wear a buttermilk pancake instead.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

But I changed my mind. Why putter around the Cape in a motor boat when you can do it with a paddle? As of last week I am sixty years old. I already checked and there are no age brackets in the Blackburn. Not that I would have come close to even sniffing a ribbon since most of the leather and sinew paddlers in my kayak class are older than me and the last I see of them is around the Annisquam Lighthouse.

So it’s on. I have 133 days to fit into my kayak. Saturday July 25, 2015. Here is a map. Here is a timer. Here is a link to the details of the Cape Ann Rowing Club who do an awesome job on the race with food and beer at the greasy pole finish.  And the warmup is the Essex River race on May 16, 2015.

May 16. 64 days away. I’ll do that too or I’ll eat my pancake.

I'll go faster with a new hat.

I’ll go faster with a new hat.

Pi second approaches in 24 hours

Tomorrow morning at 9:26 and 53 seconds give or take a nanosecond you might hear a noise roll across New England. That would be the sound of nerds celebrating 3/14/15 9:26:53 AM. You may never hear it again in your lifetime. A similar sound, not quite as loud will be heard as the same nerds order their Watch on April 10, 2015.

Awesome Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Talk On Friday at the Lanesville Community Center

Friday night March 13 at 8 PM GAAC is extraordinarily pleased to host Robert Naeye, former Editor in Chief of Sky & Telescope, the world’s most respected and influential popular astronomy magazine. Robert will be speaking to us about the Cassini mission to Saturn and its moons. In July 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft fired its braking rocket and entered orbit around Saturn. Since then, Cassini has orbited the Ring Planet hundreds of times, and returned hundreds of thousands of images, many of which we will see on the 13th, along with a flood of data about Saturn’s magnetic field, particle environment, and ring composition. This enormous dataset has revolutionized science’s understanding of the Saturnian system. Besides studying Saturn and its rings, Cassini has unveiled its mysterious moons, showing the planet and moons to be a mini-solar system unto itself. In 2005, Cassini deployed the European-built Huygens probe, which parachuted and landed on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, arguably the most Earth-like world in the solar system other than Earth itself. Cassini and Huygens have revealed Titan to be a world of complex meteorology and geology, with lakes and rivers fed by methane rainfall. Perhaps most exciting of all, Cassini has also found jets of water-ice particles laced with organics shooting away from the moon Enceladus, making this small world a potential abode for life. And Cassini images of Iapetus have helped explain how this bizarre moon got its yin-yang appearance, with one side darker than coal and the other as bright as freshly fallen snow. Many GAACsters know well that Bob’s presentations are colorful, informative events, and if you haven’t had the pleasure yet you should definitely make plans to catch this one. March means winter is finally on the way out, and what better way to celebrate than an evening with your friends at GAAC, lots of goodies and a really wonderful presentation delivered by a pro. We’ll have some surprise goodies and some extra chairs set up for this one. See you there! GAAC meets from 8:00 to 10:00 on the second Friday of every month at the Lanesville Community Center, 8 Vulcan Street in Lanesville. More information on the club is available on our website,, our Facebook page,, and our Twitter feed, @gaactweet. There are no dues or fees, and you don’t need a telescope or any special knowledge to have a very enjoyable evening.

Robert Naeye earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University in 1992, and later worked on the editorial staffs of Discover and Astronomy magazine. He served as Editor in Chief of Mercury magazine (published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) from 2000 to 2003. He worked as a Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope from 2003 to 2007, before moving to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to work as a Senior Science Writer for the Astrophysics Science Division. He returned to Sky & Telescope in June 2008 to serve as Editor in Chief. Robert is the author of two books: Through the Eyes of Hubble: The Birth, Life, and Violent Death of Stars (Kalmbach, 1997) and Signals from Space: The Chandra X-ray Observatory (Turnstone, 2000). He has contributed to two other books, and has won several awards for his writing and outreach activities. blogpic

Oracle Rubber Duck Says: Winter of Our Discontent is Over!

It’s March! What’s so awesome about March Rubber Duck? It’s followed by April! And April is when we start making “Seasonal Openings 2015!” From Top Dog usually the last day of March to The Rudder right around Tax Day with Lobsta Land, Capt Carlos, Dairy Train, sprinkled in between. What tastes like spring more than a Fish and Cheese sandwich at The Cupboard? And the snow will melt soon! Look at WeatherSpark for next week:

This next week spends most of the time above that nasty freezing line.

This next week spends most of the time above that nasty freezing line.

So here is my lineup starting today for things to do to get you in the mood.
Friday March 6: Stones Pub for a Blue Duck Spring Burger. (Blue Cheese Portabella mushrooms, bacon, hold the sprouts between your knees.
Saturday March 7: Wash the car at Maplewood Carwash. It’s not for the car, it’s for you. You will feel better! Drive home slowly. Do not splash.
Saturday March 7: There is something else big today, what is it?
Sunday March 8: Spring Forward! That’s right, drive home from work and the sun is still shining!
Monday March 9: Big Apple announcement. Buy a watch? A retina MacBook Air?
Tuesday March 10: If you are going to grow tomatoes from seeds, sow them now!
Wed March 11: Run around in shorts! It’s 44 degrees out! After this winter that will feel like 85!

Thurs March 12: Have you ever seen Uranus? I have never seen Uranus! But you can this week. As Mars and Venus set in the evening if you scope them out with binoculars they will be very easy to find. Venus is wicked bright. Very close by will be an unblinking tiny blue dot. That is Uranus! Now you can say Rubber Duck showed you Uranus!

Saturday March 14: Pi Day! Biggest Pi Day ever because it is 2015 which means 3/14/15 9:26AM and 53 seconds all nerds head’s will explode with nerdiness!
Sunday March 15: Ides of March: Greg Bover posts an awesome quote from Caesar or Brutus et tu?
Tuesday March 17: Saint Patrick’s Day! Plant your peas! Still two feet of snow in your garden? Start digging. You have to plant them on Saint Patty’s Day or the world will end.
Wednesday March 18: EJ and Brenda Malloy and Jeff Amero and everyone else who has been rubbing it in on Facebook that they are in Florida will be dragging their sun tanned butts back to Cape Ann!
Tuesday March 31: Get your boat in the water by today and you win a prize!

Friday, March 20: at 6:45 PM EDT First Day of Spring, Equinox, equal day, equal night!

Wednesday April 1: Seasonal Openings really get underway. You can make it. Meet me at the Rudder or The Studio, who is going to open first?

Then this happens Sunday April 5th

Then this happens Sunday April 5th

The World is Not a Scary Place Says the Rubber Duck Part III

In part I and II the Rubber Duck has pointed out that the world today in 2015 in the United States and for most parts of the world is a safer place than it has ever been in the totality of the history of the world. Crime, disease, food to eat, clean water to drink, clean air to breath, are all increasingly getting better. Some of these bad things had a peak in the 60s and the 80s but the Clean Water Act, and a hundred other small changes have made this world the most habitable place ever.

Now if you happen to hang out in social media you might think the Rubber Duck is insane. That nasty chemicals, autism, cancer, disease, viruses, are all increasing. Or that Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Agriculture are all run by the dude in the Monopoly game with the monocle and all they want is your money and he does not care if you die a miserable death.

But it’s all bullshit. So part III is a slight change in direction:


If you don't leave food that I love near your house especially poodles staked out in the backyard I will never bother you.

If you don’t leave food that I love near your house especially poodles staked out in the backyard I will never bother you.

Bullshit again. Take for instance the wolf coyote hybrids that are moving into New England filling the niche the wolf used to fill before our forefathers drove them west. Are we all waiting for the first instance of a child being attacked and eaten like Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandma?

Read the following article by a sane person who seems to have spent a lot of time outdoors running into all sorts of deadly animals that lurk in the that scary place called the outdoors. With a little common sense we may never hear of a grandmother being eaten. And with just a little due diligence you might keep your pets out of trouble too.

Which Animals Are A Threat Outdoors And What You Can Do About Them

Fun Packed Weekend with Rubber Duck

First a shout out to Maplewood Car Wash. Rubber Duck says there is nothing that makes the day just a little bit sunnier than driving around in a shiny vehicle. And you may ask, “Paul, is that an environmentally sound decision to drive a half ton Pick Up Truck?” and my reply is I rescued close to 5,000 pounds of over 16 year old iron so I put the “Reuse and Recycle” into my tree hugging thank you very much.

You look like ants from here.

You look like ants from here. I just got the #2 at Maplewood!

Then I shovel the front porch so maybe I can get my girl scout cookies delivered. They were unwilling to throw the boxes over the snow drift. And shovel out the oil tank intake but I look at the propane tank (or rather do not look since it is invisible under a fifteen foot drift) and think, “screw that.”

But my first “honey do” Sunday morning is something is wrong with the hot water. Wrong as in, not very hot. Shoot, out of propane? But the stove fires up. I look at water heater. My analytical mind quickly narrows down problem to the exhaust fan is not making the correct noise. The centrifugal fan is usually making a “WEEEEE” noise only it is making a lowercase “ummm” noise. six screws later I find my problem.

I placed mouse on top of blades for illustration only. She was really wedged in there.

I placed mouse on top of blades for illustration only. She was really wedged in there.

A mouse! How did she get there? As I was shoveling the bulkhead doors to cellar just yesterday I was looking a the exhaust port and marveling at the nice job of installation because they put wire mesh in the opening. But inside there is a cooling port for the fan motor that looks like this.

Three openings that a cold mouse seeking warmth would love to check out then take a ride on the ferris wheel of death.

Three openings that a cold mouse seeking warmth would love to check out then take a ride on the Ferris Wheel of Doom.

A few minutes sticking needles in it and if Mister Mouse can get past this he might be small enough to take a ride and get the full Space Mountain E ticket.

But Uncle Mickey went in here! Anyone seen Uncle Mickey?

But Uncle Mickey went in here! Anyone seen Uncle Mickey?

Why Mickey, why? Long story but it is because I did not follow Bill Rowell’s suggestion (Burrhead Oil Rockport) and wrap some insulation on my exposed oil line and it got sluggish and my furnace died and my house was wicked chilly when we got here on Friday and the mouse needed to find a warm place. Speaking of Burrhead, have you ever said, “You gotta start charging me for these emergency visits Bill”. All he did was teach me how to prime and jump start my furnace myself. Bill also cracks me up with his growing up in Rockport stories but I will stop there before we both get into trouble.

Astronomy Orgasm: Threesome Tonight!

Holy cow, New England weather is going to give us clear skies tonight as an impressive threesome happens after sunset.

Here’s the deal. There was a supermoon last night but it’s a new moon so no one saw it. It means tonight it is one humongous thin fingernail. But wait, there’s more. Venus will be blazing away just to the left of the fingernail. But here is the cherry on top. Whip out some binoculars and check out Mars just above Venus! You might be able to get all three in wide field birding binocs. But even without binocs it will look pretty cool.

Look to the right of where the sun set and Venus will be blazing. Mars up and sliver of moon to the right.

Look to the right of where the sun set and Venus will be blazing. Mars up and sliver of moon to the right.


Photographers Ephemeris shows where you need to be to catch the three setting over City Hall. Is that Joey’s dock?


Did I really type “sunset hear”? Well to all the grammarians who just started grinding their teeth I say, “lighten up Francis, I’m not going back to change it.”


Credits: First shot I made in “StarSafari” astronomy program. Gloucester Area Astronomy Club Approved. The second photo I made using “The Photographers Ephemeris“. Probably GAAC approved too. Both programs worth knowing how to use.

Homemade Bratwurst on my Ice Dams!

This does not look good.

This does not look good.

After the relentless Snowzilla #1 through #4 even a well insulated house is going to have an ice dam. Ice freezes along the roof line and now any water percolating under the snow gets trapped and backs up under the shingles into your house leaking into that lovely ceiling fan. Turning the fan on high is a fun way to humidify your house but eventually you will burn your house down with an electrical short.

Solution: Roof Sausage and we’re not talking Ambie’s. My favorite looks like Karl’s Sausage Kitchen bratwurst. Take a spare pair of pantyhose and cut the leg off. Fill the leg with calcium chloride (that is the Snow Melt you are throwing on the walkway). If your ice dam is up high, tie a line to the end and toss it up there so it crosses the ice dam.

This is making me hungry.

This is making me hungry.

Done! Like a little beaver’s nightmare that sausage will cut across the ice dam and make a path for the water to drain.

Because we live on Cape Ann you know that one of these storms will eventually arrive and dump four inches of rain and you really don’t want the inside of your house to look like a tropical rain forest.

Rubber Duck Pro Tip: You can buy “roof pucks” to do this but stuffing socks and pantyhose is so much more fun. Go buy the big 50 lb bag of rock salt at Ace or Building Center then pour it into that 5 gallon bucket you have kicking around. Drop a mason jar on top and stick it on your front porch. Now you can fill a sock and toss or sprinkle some on that icy walkway. When you fill the bucket from a 50 lb bag, about two shovel fulls will not fit. Just catapult that up on your roof.

The wrong way: Do not use organic, non-gluten, non-GMO, non-fluoride Kosher Pink Gourmet Himalayan rock salt. Well, you can but only buy Rubber Duck brand, $35 a pound with 81 essential minerals. Call now. Also, send in your roof sausage photos to Joey. Extra points if you tie a Rubber Duck on the sausage.

One Last Snow Photo

Photo out my window. There are three cars out there but I can only spot one car antenna. Must be the truck.

Photo out my window. There are three cars out there but I can only spot one car antenna. Must be the truck.

OK, one more, and yes I know about ice dams. Maybe I can sneak my hand out there and turn the grill on high. That might do it.

OK, one more, and yes I know about ice dams. Maybe I can sneak my hand out there and turn the grill on high. That might do it.

Before you know it the planet wobbles the other way and it is 4th of July in Rockport and Rubber Duck is getting soft in the heat from the leftover bonfire.

Before you know it the planet wobbles the other way and it is 4th of July in Rockport and Rubber Duck is getting soft in the heat from the leftover bonfire.

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