Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 52

Crew of USS Pueblo released by North Korea on December 23, 1968

Crew of USS Pueblo released by North Korea on December 23, 1968

Crew of USS Pueblo released by North Korea: The crew and captain of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by North Korean warships on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters.

The seizure infuriated U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. Later, he claimed that he strongly suspected (although it could not be proven) that the incident with the Pueblo, coming just a few days before the communist Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, was a coordinated diversion. At the time, however, Johnson did little. The Tet Offensive, which began just a week after the ship was taken by North Korea, exploded on the front pages and televisions of America and seemed to paralyze the Johnson administration. To deal with the Pueblo incident, the United States urged the U.N.'s Security Council to condemn the action and pressured the Soviet Union to negotiate with the North Koreans for the ship's release.

It was 11 long months before the Pueblo's men were freed. Both captain and crew were horribly treated and later recounted their torture at the hands of the North Koreans. With no help in sight, Captain Lloyd Bucher reluctantly signed a document confessing that the ship was spying on North Korea. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans released the prisoners and also returned the body of one crewman who died in captivity.

Some Americans criticized Johnson for not taking decisive retaliatory action against North Korea; others argued that he should have used every diplomatic means at his disposal to secure a quick release for the crew. In any case, the event was another blow to Johnson and America's Cold War foreign policy. History Channel / Wikipedia / Navy.mil / Wall Street Journal / The National Security Archive.edu / PBS / BBC

Images: USS Pueblo On Display In North Korea (Inquisitr) video / North Korea's Cold War prize, USS Pueblo, set to be displayed for “Victory Day” (NBC News) video / Pueblo crew of 82 freed by N. Korea (Stars and Stripes).

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - foreign national

(DOD) Foreign national:

Any person other than a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent or temporary legal resident alien, or person in US custody. Wikipedia / Joint Point 1-0)

Guarding Christmas

The Old Salt’s Corner

Guarding Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep

in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,

But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

and I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A sailor, I puzzled, some twenty years old.

Yet he stood there, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear.

“Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!

Hurry and brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

away from the cold and snow blown in a drift,

to the window that danced with a warm fire's light,

then he sighed and he said “It’s really all right.”

I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.

Our freedom comes first 'til the dawn's early light.

It’s my duty to stand at the front of the lines,

that separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,

then he sighed, “That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.”

“My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam

And, now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.”

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red white and blue... an American flag.

“I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home,

I can stand at my watch through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a small rack with little to eat,

I can carry the weight of killing another,

or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers

who stand at the front against any and all,

to insure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside”, he said, “harbor no fright

Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.”

“But isn't there something I can do, at the least,

Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?.

It seems all too little for all that you've done,

For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

“Just tell us you love us, and never forget

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

Have faith in our country, be bold, and be strong.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

to know you remember we fought and we bled,

is payment enough, and with that we will trust.

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

What happens if you get scared half to death, ...twice?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Never refuse any advance of friendship, for if nine out of ten bring you nothing, one alone may repay you.”

~ Madame de Tencin

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue.”

~ “Dilbert”

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)

Satanic Coloring Book

School board considers policy change due to controversy surrounding “Satanic Coloring Book”

A group called the Satanic Temple wants to hand out copies of this coloring book to children in Florida schools, arguing that Christian evangelical groups are allowed to distribute bibles and booklets in public schools, so why shouldn't they be allowed to distribute their satanic literature.

Equal time for all religions, etc. Of course, there's no way in hell the school board is going to let this happen.Fox News Kansas City

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What is graphene and how will it change the world?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What is graphene and how will it change the world?

Graphene is a very simple substance - it is made of carbon atoms perfectly arranged as an atom-thick mesh. Think about a net made of carbon atoms, each bonded to its three nearest neighbors to form a honeycomb pattern. A single layer of graphite is called graphene.

The advantages of graphene include its strength and its unique electrical properties. Once we unlock the secret of making graphene in large, uniform quantities, many innovations will appear. Imagine a material that 100 times stronger than steel, or more. Imagine a sheet of paper made of graphene. It can easily hold a car, even if the car is balanced on the end of rod the size of a pen. With that kind of strength, graphene will affect the design of airplanes, cars, bridges, roads, tires, ships, sports equipment, plastic cases and so on. Nearly anything that needs to be strong and light benefits from graphene.

Electrically, graphene is a fantastic conductor. So graphene could affect chips, computers, screens, power grids, home wiring, etc. Graphene even affects things on the drawing board. For example, it could make space elevators a reality.

In several years we may be wondering how we ever lived without graphene.

Research:  WikipediaThe Motley Fool videoZDNetCNN

Where Did That Saying Come From? “A Shot of Whiskey”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

“Cold Feet”

Cold Feet:

To get cold feet” means to become anxious, timid or discouraged, and most often to act on those feelings by, as you say, “backing out” of a commitment or task.

Cold Feet”as a synonym for "timid" seems to date from the late 19th century, but its exact origin is uncertain. Experts have long suspected that the phrase might have something to do with the military, an environment which certainly offers a plethora of things to fear. It is entirely possible that “to get cold feet” originally referred to soldiers who exempted themselves from battle by complaining that their feet were frozen.

A more intriguing possible origin, however, dates back to the 17th century, when "to have cold feet" meant “to have no money”, probably referring to someone being so poor as to lack shoes. The transition from the “no money” sense to the modern “timid” sense of “cold feet” may be found in an 1862 German novel in which a card player withdraws from a game claiming that he has “cold feet” (i.e., no money), when in fact he has merely lost his nerve.

To get cold feet” goes the theory, then eventually came to mean backing out of any risky situation, whatever excuse was given. Wikipedia

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Golden Dragon: A sailor who has crossed the Prime Meridian or the International Date Line into the Eastern Hemisphere.

Hangar Queen: an aircraft that is chronically down or “broke-dick”. These aircraft are often used for parts to keep the rest of the aircraft flying.

Redass: Any task or evolution that is extremely painful or difficult to accomplish, often due to bureaucracy or red tape.

Tits-up: Out of commission; hard-down.

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

Just for you MARINE

Conscientious objector: Someone who objects to combat on religious grounds. They can serve in non-combatant positions (including service on the battlefield as a corpsman or other unarmed person) or they can serve in non-military public service assignments. They are usually not slackers or traitors and deserve respect for making difficult decisions before getting someone hurt or killed in combat.

Constructionman: A Navy enlisted rank. See Seaman.

Contraband (Civil War) A slave freed by Union forces. Their status was unique in that, while they were in the South under Confederate control they were legally free but in reality slaves. When they passed into the hands of Union forces they were still slaves (the Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves in the Union). Many of them enlisted into the Army or Navy, but because of their status could serve only in menial positions. A male contraband could, for instance, enlist in the Navy and serve in the rank of Boy being paid $8 per month (about half the pay of Seamen or Landsmen) Many sailors of the time were free blacks and were treated like any other shipmate, but they would not associate with contrabands. It was only after the Civil War that the Navy was segregated. There were no blacks in either the U. S. or C. S. Marines during the Civil War.

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

OCS - Officer Candidate School

A 12-week training program designed to give Officers a working knowledge of the Navy. It is the equivalent to Officer Boot Camp.

OIC - Officer in Charge

A commissioned Navy Officer in charge of an organization, facility or function, responsible for a group of Officers and Sailors in the organization.

PAO - Public Affairs Officer

Officer responsible for preparing and disseminating information relative to military operations through news releases, photographs, radio and television, and other informational material.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-34 - Strike Fighter Squadron 34: “Blue Blasters” NAS Oceana, Virginia

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

October 8, 1871: The Night the Midwestern United States Burned - The Great Chicago Fire October 8, 1871: The Night the Midwestern United States Burned - Comet Biela

October 8, 1871: The Night the Midwestern United States Burned

On October 8, 1871, the Midwestern United States experienced an enormous firestorm that burned 2,300 square miles of land around Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The event is the deadliest fire in US history and killed 1,500 to 2,500 people. On the same day, the United States experienced the Great Chicago Fire, the Port Huron Fire, theHolland Fire, and Manistee Fire.

The 1871 firestorm was caused by strong winds and forest fires. After gaining enough energy, the blaze quickly developed into a massive wall of fire that reached a speed of 100 mph and produced tornado-style winds. The fire was so hot that sandy beaches were turned to glass, and people were incinerated. The fire jumped over the waters of Green Bay and destroyed 12 separate communities in the area. It tossed rail cars and houses into the air and left thousands of people with nothing.

Some 250 miles south of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, the city of Chicago experienced one of its largest fires in history on October 8, 1871. The Great Michigan Fire also started on October 8th and burned a large number of cities in the area. When looking over the destruction, some have come to wonder what triggered the fires.

The coincidence has caught the attention of a group of researchers who have proposed that the fires were all started when Comet Biela broke up over the Midwest. Meteorites are not known to start or spread fires, as they are cold to the touch when reaching the ground. However, it has been suggested that the methane in comets could potentially ignite if the object is large enough and hits a dry patch of land that has experienced forest fires.

Others have suggested that an airburst over a forest fire–riddled area could cause a massive firestorm. On October 8, 1871, people all over Wisconsin reported seeing a series of spontaneous ignitions, balls of fire, blue flames, and a lack of smoke usually representative of a firestorm. Michigan State University / Library of Congress / History.com / Wikipedia


Gene Autry Sings Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Gene Autry 1949

“The Christmas Song” - Nat King Cole
Album: Christmas Legends
Released 1946 video

Mel Torme and Bob Wells were songwriting partners, and used to take turns going over to each other’s homes to write songs. One particularly hot July day, Mel drove over to Bob's house in Teluca Lake, California, and when he got there he walked into the house, couldn't find Bob, but found a spiral note pad of paper with some words on it - “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos.” When Mel found Bob, he asked him “What's this?”, and Bob said “it's so blistering hot here”, and thought it would be fun to see if I could write something about a totally different season, the winter season, Christmas season, and see if I could mentally, virtually cool off." Mel said “not only have you also cooled me off, but I think you've got a song here!” And the duo wrote the rest of the song in about 35 minutes.

Nat King Cole recorded this for the first time in 1946 with his group The Nat King Cole Trio. They were the big act on Columbia Records, who had them re-record the song with a string section - the first time the trio used strings on a record. The no-strings version was shelved (later released in 1989 on a Rhino compilation called Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits 1935-1954), and the strings version issued - it made #3 in the U.S. and hung around the charts even after Christmas. Cole recorded it again in 1953 with Nelson Riddle, who was an ace arranger at Capitol famous for his sessions with Frank Sinatra. Capitol Records released it again in December of 1960 as part of Cole's Christmas album The Magic of Christmas. Cole recorded another version (this time in stereo) in 1961, and this one was issued as a single in 1962, making #65 in the US. In the UK, the song was released several times, reaching its peak chart position of #69 in 1991.

This was featured on the soundtrack of the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. In the film, the characters played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks end up speaking with each other every Christmas Eve. Song Facts / Nat King Cole.com / Wikipedia / Biography / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / All Music

Image: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole



● Anyone writing a letter to the New York Times has one chance in 21 of having the letter published. Letter writers to the Washington Post do significantly better: one letter out of eight finds it way to print.

● Of all the potatoes grown in the United States, only 8 percent are used to make potato chips. Special varieties referred to as “chipping potatoes” are grown for this purpose.

● The Nile has frozen over at least twice, in 829 and 1010 A.D.

Answer to Last Week's Test

Who was the first professional (paid) football player?

Answer: “William 'Pudge' Walter Heffelfinger” was the first to be paid for playing football. In 1892 he got $25 and a $500 bonus for a single game. An athletic league expense sheet provides the first irrefutable evidence of an out-and-out cash payment. It is appropriately referred to today as “pro football's birth certificate”.

Joke of the Day

A group of kindergartners were trying to become accustomed to the first grade. The biggest hurdle they faced was that the teacher insisted on no baby talk.

“You need to use 'big people' words”, she'd always remind them. She asked Chris what he had done over the weekend. &lrdquo;I went to visit my Nana.”

“No, you went to visit your GRANDMOTHER. Use big people words!” She then asked Mitchell what he had done. “I took a ride on a choo-choo.”

She said, “No, you took a ride on a TRAIN. Use big people words.” She then asked Bobby what he had done. “I read a book”, he replied.

“That's WONDERFUL!” the teacher said. “What book did you read?” Bobby thought about it, then puffed out his little chest with great pride and said, “Winnie the Shit.”