Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 47

Railroads create the first time zones on November 18, 1883

Railroads create the first time zones on November 18, 1883

Railroads create the first time zones: At exactly noon on this day, American and Canadian railroads begin using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies.

The need for continental time zones stemmed directly from the problems of moving passengers and freight over the thousands of miles of rail line that covered North America by the 1880s. Since human beings had first begun keeping track of time, they set their clocks to the local movement of the sun. Even as late as the 1880s, most towns in the U.S. had their own local time, generally based on “high noon”, or the time when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. As railroads began to shrink the travel time between cities from days or months to mere hours, however, these local times became a scheduling nightmare. Railroad timetables in major cities listed dozens of different arrival and departure times for the same train, each linked to a different local time zone.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission. History Channel / Wikipedia / Library of Congress / Wired

Wikipedia  Image: First Transcontinental Railroad ● The Transcontinental Railroad Route.

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - fixed price type contract

(DOD) Fixed price type contract:

A type of contract that generally provides for a firm price or, under appropriate circumstances, may provide for an adjustable price for the supplies or services being procured. Fixed price contracts are of several types so designed as to facilitate proper pricing under varying circumstances. Wikipedia / Acquisition.gov

“List of ship directions”

The Old Salt’s Corner

Flag semaphore is the telegraphy system conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Information is encoded by the position of the flags; it is read when the flag is in a fixed position. Semaphores were adopted and widely used (with hand-held flags replacing the mechanical arms of shutter semaphores) in the maritime world in the 19th century. It is still used during underway replenishment at sea and is acceptable for emergency communication in daylight or, using lighted wands instead of flags, at night.

The current flag semaphore system uses two short poles with square flags, which a signalman holds in different positions to signal letters of the alphabet and numbers. The signalman holds one pole in each hand, and extends each arm in one of eight possible directions. Except for in the rest position, the flags do not overlap. The flags are colored differently based on whether the signals are sent by sea or by land. At sea, the flags are colored red and yellow (the Oscar flag), while on land, they are white and blue (the Papa flag). Flags are not required; their purpose is to make the characters more obvious.Wikipedia

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Can a stupid person be a smart-ass?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you're playing by somebody else's rules, while quietly playing by your own.”

~ Michael Konda

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

Better that a girl has beauty than brains because boys see better than they think.

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Domino's pizza delivery driver James Gilpin talks Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, about how he felt after receiving a $1,268 tip the day before for delivering two pizzas to Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. The tip, and thousands of inspirational notes, were presented to Gilpin on stage in front of students in the university's Chapel/Auditorium. (Jeff Morehead, The Chronicle Tribune, AP Photo)

Pizza driver gets $1,268 tip at college chapel

MARION, Indiana - An Indiana pizza delivery driver called to deliver two pizzas to Indiana Wesleyan University's chapel was surprised with a $1,268 tip.

Keith Newman, the chief executive officer of Residential Education, told students during Wednesday morning's chapel service he was ordering pizza to illustrate an idea: “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

James Gilpin, a Domino's delivery driver, was brought on stage when he arrived with the two pizzas -- totaling $12.50 -- and he was awarded the $1,268 cash tip, $70 in gift cards and inspirational messages from the thousands of students in attendance.

Gilpin said he plans to put the money toward giving his children, ages 5 and 6, a memorable Christmas. He said he is finding inspiration and encouragement from the letters written to him by the students.ABC INDY / UPI video

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time? - “Spring Forward” / “Fall Back”

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time?

Why did daylight saving time (DST) start, and why does it still continue? When asking a random sample of people we heard two answers again and again: “To help the farmers” or “Because of World War I ... or was it World War II?” In fact, farmers generally oppose daylight saving time. In Indiana, where part of the state observes DST and part does not, farmers have opposed a move to DST. Farmers, who must wake with the sun no matter what time their clock says, are greatly inconvenienced by having to change their schedule in order to sell their crops to people who observe daylight saving time.

Daylight saving time did indeed begin in the United States during World War I, primarily to save fuel by reducing the need to use artificial lighting. Although some states and communities observed daylight saving time between the wars, it was not observed nationally again until World War II.

Of course, World War II is long over. So why do we still observe daylight saving time?

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided the basic framework for alternating between daylight saving time and standard time, which we now observe in the United States. But Congress can't seem to resist tinkering with it. For example, in 1973 daylight saving time was observed all year, instead of just the spring and summer. The system of beginning DST at 2 AM on the first Sunday in April and ending it at 2 AM on the last Sunday in October was not standardized until 1986. The rules changed again in 2007. DST now begins on the second Sunday of March and ends the first Sunday in November.

The earliest known reference to the idea of daylight saving time comes from a purely whimsical 1784 essay by Benjamin Franklin, called “Turkey versus Eagle, McCauley is my Beagle.” It was first seriously advocated by William Willet, a British Builder, in his pamphlet “Waste of Daylight” in 1907.

Over the years, supporters have advanced new reasons in support of DST, even though they were not the original reasons behind enacting DST.

One is safety. Some people believe that if we have more daylight at the end of the day, we will have fewer accidents.

In fact, this “benefit” comes only at the cost of less daylight in the morning. When year-round daylight time was tried in 1973, one reason it was repealed was because of an increased number of school bus accidents in the morning. Further, a study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called “spring forward” when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead.

Coren attributes the jump to the lost hour of sleep. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Coren explained, “These data show that small changes in the amount of sleep that people get can have major consequences in everyday activities.” He undertook the study as a follow up to research showing that even an hour's change can disrupt sleep patterns and "persist for up to five days after each time shift." Other observers attribute the huge spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST to the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. Regardless of the reason, there is no denying that changing our clocks has a significant cost in human lives.

While some people claim that they would miss the late evening light, a presumably similar number of people love the morning light. And projects, postponed during the sun filled summer, will be tackled with new vigor when the sun sets an hour earlier each day.

Congress appears to have felt we were not having enough of a difficult time so in 2007 they passed a law starting Daylight Savings time 3 weeks earlier and ending it one week later. This cost US companies billions to reset automated equipment, put us further out of sync with Asia and Africa time-wise, inconvenienced most of the country, all in the name of unproven studies that claim we save energy.

Improved diagnosis undoubtedly does explain some of the increase. One study found MS rates in parts of Finland were fairly stable from 1979 to 1993, then more than doubled between 1994 and 1998 — a jump the investigators attributed to greater use of magnetic resonance imaging to aid in diagnosis. (While there’s no definitive MS test and diagnosis is partly a process of elimination, using MRI to look for lesions in the nervous system eliminates some of the guesswork.)

Standard Time says: If we are saving energy let's go year round with Daylight Saving Time. If we are not saving energy let's drop Daylight Saving Time!

Research:  Standard TimeWikipediaNational GeographicNASACNN Money

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Read the riot act”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Read the riot act:

The “Riot Act” was passed by the British government in 1714 and came into force in 1715. The Riot Act, which was more formally called “An act for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the rioters” actually contained this warning:

“Our sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.”

The punishments for ignoring the Act were severe - penal servitude for not less than three years, or imprisonment with hard labour for up to two years.Phrases.org.UK

Image: “The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor” 1773 Boston Tea Party, painted by Nathaniel Currier, 1846

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy America's Navy - A Global Force For Good

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Cut orders (for transfer, travel): Before photocopiers were common, such were prepared by typing a mimeo or ditto master, due to the number pF copies required. (Term may be obsolete today.)

D.C. Dink: A sailor who has failed to qualify in Damage Control in the stipulated time period and has become “Damage Control Delinquent”.

Fleet Tac: Fleet Tactical radio frequency. This frequency is supposed to be monitored by every US and NATO ship in the world at all times. In reality, this is rarely the case.

On Report: The initial discipline practice notifying an individual that he/she is being investigated for possible discipline.

Just for MARINES - U.S. Marines Marines - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Commandant's Own: Name given to the United States Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps.

Commander: One who has charge of a military unit exercising command authority under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or, in the Navy and Coast Guard a rank equivalent to a Marine lieutenant colonel.

Commander in Chief: The President of the United States. Prior to 2002 it was also used to indicate the senior officer in a unified command. In June of 2002 the Secretary of Defense decreed that the only CinC in the U.S. would be the POTUS.

Commanding General: A general officer in charge of a unit with the authorities granted under the UCMJ to dispense justice and exercise operational and training control appropriate to his or her rank.

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

FAC - Forward Air Controller

An individual who directs the action of military aircraft engaged in close air support of land forces.

HM - Hospital Corpsman

Enlisted Sailor tasked with assisting Navy Medical Officers in providing medical care to Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their families.

IT - Information Technology

Naval community made up of communications experts who process, transmit and analyze a wide variety of data.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HS-7 - Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 7: “Dusty Dogs” NAS Jacksonville, Florida

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

In 1945 a Japanese Bomb Exploded in Oregon, Killing Six

In 1945 a Japanese Bomb Exploded in Oregon, Killing Six

In 1944, Japanese troops set 9,000 balloons adrift over the Pacific. Beneath each of the 33-foot-diameter spheres dangled a 35-pound high-explosive bomb and eight 15-pound firebombs. After spending three days floating the jet stream, the balloons were to jettison their loads over the continental U.S., sparking forest fires and generating mayhem.

Lucky for us, the wind is a fickle ally. Only 389 of these Fu-Gos or “fire balloons” made it to the States, and even fewer exploded. One landed in Nevada, only to be discovered by cowboys and turned into a hay tarp. Two landed back in Japan. Only one bomb claimed any American casualties, and even that was more of a tragic debacle than a crushing military victory.

Five kids and their pregnant Sunday-school teacher stumbled upon the balloon in the Oregon woods—hardly the sort of PR coup that would buoy Japanese spirits. Dismayed by the poor results, the Japanese scrapped balloon bombs in 1945. Mental Floss / Wikipedia / Wired


Rumours - Fleetwood Mac released 1977

“Rumours” - Fleetwood Mac
Released 1971 video

Christine McVie wrote this about leaving the past behind. She and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac's bass player) were splitting up, which inspired the lyrics. This caused some awkward moments, since John had to play a song written about him. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were also going through a breakup and writing songs about each other (“Go Your Own Way”, “Dreams”), and Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce. All the tension in the studio didn't seem to hurt - Rumours is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The album was going to be called “Yesterday's Gone”, after a line in this song. John McVie suggested “Rumours” because it seemed like everyone in Southern California was talking about the personal drama Fleetwood Mac was going through.

Bill Clinton used this as his theme song when he successfully ran for US president in 1992. He was the first baby boomer president, and knew Fleetwood Mac would appeal to a lot of voters. Rolling Stone magazine (500 Greatest Albums of All Time) / Wikipedia / Behind The Music Remastered › Full Episodes

Image: Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (album)



● Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

● Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

● Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

Answer to Last Week's Test

What is the most recorded song of all time – with more than 2000 versions?

Answer: “YESTERDAY” it was number one for four weeks in 1965.

Joke of the Day

Little Johnny was starting his first day at a new school and his father called the teacher to tell her that little Johnny was a big gambler. She said that it was no problem and she has seen worse than that.

After Little Johnny’s first day at his new school his father called the teacher to see how it went. She said, “I think I broke his gambling.” The father asked how and she said, “He bet me $5.00 that I had a mole on my butt, so I pulled down my pants and won his money.”

“DAMN!” said the father.

“What’s wrong?”, the teacher asked.

Little Johnny’s father said, “This morning he bet me $100.00 he would see his teacher’s butt before the day was over!”