Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 28, 2015

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Hoover Dam begins transmitting electricity to Los Angeles on October 9, 1936

Building of Hoover Dam begins on July 7, 1930

Building of Hoover Dam begins: On this day in 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam begins. Over the next five years, a total of 21,000 men would work ceaselessly to produce what would be the largest dam of its time, as well as one of the largest manmade structures in the world.

Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making. Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the Bureau of Reclamation, originally had his vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902, and his engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922.

Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States and a committed conservationist, played a crucial role in making Davis’ vision a reality. As secretary of commerce in 1921, Hoover devoted himself to the erection of a high dam in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. The dam would provide essential flood control, which would prevent damage to downstream farming communities that suffered each year when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and joined the Colorado River. Further, the dam would allow the expansion of irrigated farming in the desert, and would provide a dependable supply of water for Los Angeles and other southern California communities.

Even with Hoover’s exuberant backing and a regional consensus around the need to build the dam, Congressional approval and individual state cooperation were slow in coming. For many years, water rights had been a source of contention among the western states that had claims on the Colorado River. To address this issue, Hoover negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which broke the river basin into two regions with the water divided between them. Hoover then had to introduce and re-introduce the bill to build the dam several times over the next few years before the House and Senate finally approved the bill in 1928.

In 1929, Hoover, now president, signed the Colorado River Compact into law, claiming it was “the most extensive action ever taken by a group of states under the provisions of the Constitution permitting compacts between states”.

Once preparations were made, the Hoover Dam’s construction sprinted forward: The contractors finished their work two years ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget. Today, the Hoover Dam is the second highest dam in the country and the 18th highest in the world. It generates enough energy each year to serve over a million people, and stands, in Hoover Dam artist Oskar Hansen’s words, as “a monument to collective genius exerting itself in community efforts around a common need or ideal”. History Channel / Wikipedia / Arizona Parks and Monuments

Wikipedia  Image: Hoover Dam (Wallpaperweb.org)

Construction of Hoover Dam (Bureau of Reclamation)

Hoover Dam Jumbo Rig Workers on a “Jumbo Rig” - used for drilling Hoover Dam's tunnel (Bureau of Reclamation)

Apache Indians employed as high-scalers on the construction of Hoover Dam - NARA - 293746 (U.S. National Archives)

Frank Crowe, General Superintendent Frank Crowe (right) with Bureau of Reclamation engineer Walker Young in 1935 (Bureau of Reclamation photographer)

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - In-transit visibility

(DOD) The ability to track the identity, status, and location of Department of Defense units, and non-unit cargo (excluding bulk petroleum, oils, and lubricants) and passengers; patients; and personal property from origin to consignee or destination across the range of military operations. Also called ITV. Joint Electronic Library - Logistics, Series 4-0 Publications (Joint Publication 4-0)

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Washington (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner

Intelligence Function

On a carrier, the CVIC supports the battlegroup’s intelligence requirements by supplying the Commanding Officer, embarked staffs, and air wing with operational, technical, and strike planning information. This is accomplished with a variety of intelligence related systems located in CVIC and in the Supplementary Plot (SUPPLOT) spaces (see Module 10 for a description of systems). These systems provide operational intelligence (OPINTEL) information, intelligence research data, and reports on the collection efforts of the air wing aircraft. Note that if you are assigned to a smaller vessel the intelligence spaces will vary.

Like CDC, a carrier CVIC actually encompasses several individual divisions, which are listed below:

1. OP Division

OP Division provides photographic support to the ship, air wing, and the embarked staff. OP has two labs onboard a typical carrier. The main photo lab handles photographic support for administrative and official events. The CVIC photo lab processes hand held photography from aircrew as well as TARPS film (the TARPS system is discussed in Module 10).

2. OS Division

The OS Division is responsible for providing special intelligence communications to the warfare commanders both internal and external to the battlegroup. Typically, OS Division personnel are enlisted cryptologic specialists (i.e., CTs). In some cases, ships will receive a special NAVSECGRU Direct Support Element (DSE) consisting of additional CTs, which provide tailored support (e.g., CTIs for specific area interception operations).

3. OZ Division

The personnel in this division are responsible for the day-to-day operation of CVIC and SUPPLOT spaces. Personnel in the OZ Division include intelligence officers (1630s), enlisted Intelligence Specialists (ISs) and Data Processing Technicians (DPs), Electronics Technicians (ETs), and Interior Communications Technicians (ICs).

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Crime doesn't pay... does that mean my job is a crime?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

~ Vince Lombardi

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“When something is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

~ 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)

Margarita Photodermatitis

Margarita Photodermatitis

A Florida man recently suffered second-degree burns on his hands as a result of making margaritas. It wasn't the tequila that did it, but rather the combination of lime juice splashing on his hands and Florida sunshine. And this happens to people often enough that the threat posed by margarita-making has been described and named in the medical literature.

Phytophotodermatitis elicited by lime juice is caused by the absorption of furocoumarin, a lipid-soluble 8-methoxypsoralen, into keratinocytes and its covalent binding to keratinocyte DNA after exposure to long-wavelength ultraviolet A radiation. This reaction irreversibly damages the DNA and is clinically evident as erythema, burning edema, and vesiculation within 24 hours after exposure. Healing is heralded by desquamation of the necrotic epidermis and ensuing hyperpigmentation.

Phytophotodermatitis involving fruits and vegetables has been described most often as an occupational hazard among citrus workers and celery harvesters, because these foods contain high concentrations of furocoumarins. Isolated cases have also been described after nonoccupational exposure. One of the largest outbreaks was reported among 12 children in a day camp who were making pomanders from limes.

Margarita Photodermatitis

Toxic plants: A growing danger

Why You Shouldn’t Sip a Margarita Poolside

New England Journal of Medicine - 03/25/1993 / Independent UK (07/27/2010) / Womens Health Magazine (07/13/2013

Why Are Yawns Contagious?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Are Yawns Contagious?

What is yawning? And why do we do so much of it? Neuroscientist and yawn expert Robert Provine says it’s “ancient and autonomic”. It stems from early evolution and is common to many creatures—even fish do it. It’s autonomic in the sense that it stems from the brainstem, way down in the basement level of the brain where certain responses are so inbuilt they don’t even qualify as reflexes.

Yawning has many triggers, like boredom, sleepiness, and temperature, for example. A recent study concluded that there’s a “thermal window” (at around 20 degrees Celsius) for human yawning; as ambient temperature approaches body temperature or goes down near freezing, we yawn less. According to the paper, we may yawn to regulate the temperature of our brains. This isn’t the same as saying we yawn to take in extra oxygen, as evidence to date says we don’t. It means that yawning might act to draw brain-soothing ambient air in through the nose and mouth.

So far, scientists have observed “contagious yawning” in chimpanzees, humans, baboons, bonobos, wolves, and, to a certain extent, dogs and budgies. Yawning feels good, so why not join in when someone else yawns? Well, you’re not really “joining in”, because you aren’t copying the yawn on any conscious level. It happens because you just can’t help it. If you become self-conscious about a yawn, it stops.

Studies have shown that seeing pictures or videos of yawning faces can provoke contagious yawning. What we might think of as the main component of a “yawn face” — a wide-open mouth — doesn’t even need to appear in the image for the trigger to work, “yawning eyes” can be enough to get us arching and gaping. If you yawn while reading about yawning, it’s not because you’re “picturing” a yawn. The response is more primal than that.

Some people with autism or schizophrenia don’t exhibit a yawn-contagion response. The same is true of children under the age of four years. This led to a bunch of theories about its relationship to empathy and the brain’s “mirror-neuron system” (MNS). The idea here is that MNS deficits might lead to missing hidden empathetic cues that trigger contagious yawning. The MNS seems to be involved in the process to some extent. MRI scans on a range of people have shown that other parts of the brain also “light up” in response to images of yawning, perhaps more so than the areas normally associated with empathy.

BBCDaily MailDiscoveryMental FlossSmithsonianWikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Keep your eyes peeled or pealed”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

“Keep your eyes peeled or pealed”

Keep your eyes peeled or pealed:” It’s spelled - peeled, as in peeling an apple. It derives from an old verb pill, “to plunder”, which is the root of our modern word pillage. It came to us from the Latin root pilare, meaning “to take the hair off, pluck” (closely connected with our depilate), but which also had the figurative meaning of “plunder, cheat”, almost exactly the same as the figurative meaning of our modern verbs fleece or pluck.

From about the 17th century on, pill was commonly spelled peel and took on the sense of “to remove or strip” in the weakened sense of removing an outer covering, such as a fruit. The figurative sense of keeping alert, by removing any covering of the eye that might impede vision, seems to have appeared in the U.S. about 1850. World Wide Words.org

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Butter Bars: Refers to the gold-colored bars designating the rank of Ensign (the lowest rank for commissioned officers).

Channel Fever: Said if a sailor is anxious when approaching port to get leave. Sometimes cured by the “Channel Fever Shot”, a slap or kick to the backside.

CIVLANT: Form DD-214 transfers you from COMSUBLANT to CIVLANT.

CIWS (pron. sea whiz): Close in Weapon System, or Phalanx gun, is intended to shoot down incoming missiles, but is frequently under repair.

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

Just for you MARINE

El Espanol: (Dominican Republic) The hotel in the Dominican Republic that was headquarters for the 6th Regimental Landing Team (including BLT 3/6) in 1965.

El Presidente: (Dominican Republic) Brand name of a Dominican Republic beer in 1965 when the Marines landed in that country.

Elvis Has Left the Building: Said to a fellow Marine it tells them that their collar is turned up (a la Elvisesque) without bringing undue attention to the problem.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSL-45 - Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45: “Wolfpack”
NS Mayport, Florida

Aircraft Nicknames

Aircraft Nicknames

B-1 Lancer nicknamed “Bone”, The Rockwell (now part of Boeing) B-1 Lancer is a four-engine supersonic variable-sweep wing, jet-powered heavy strategic bomber used by the United States Air Force (USAF).

It was first envisioned in the 1960s as a supersonic bomber with Mach 2 speed, and sufficient range and payload to replace the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. It was developed into the B-1B, primarily a low-level penetrator with long range and Mach 1.25 speed capability at high altitude. Wikipedia (Boeing B-1 Lancer)

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Ursula Böttcher, The “Polar Bear Princess”

First World War - Chance to kill Hitler but didn't

The First World War was in its last hours, millions of soldiers on both sides were dead and those who fought on knew the end was near, as did English Private Henry Tandey who served with the Duke of Wellington's Regiment.

In September of 1918, on the French battlefield of Marcoing, he won the Victoria Cross for bravery, one of many medals the 27 year old would win during the 'war to end all wars.' As the battle of Marcoing raged, Allied and German forces engaged in bitter hand to hand combat. The defining moment for Private Tandey and world history came when a wounded German limped directly into his line of fire.

“I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man”, said Tandey, “so I let him go”. Years later he discovered he had spared an Austrian Corporal named Adolf Hitler.

Hitler himself never forgot that pivotal moment or the man who had spared him. On becoming German Chancellor in 1933, he ordered his staff to track down Tandey's service records. They also managed to obtain a print of an Italian painting showing Tandey carrying a wounded Allied soldier on his back, which Hitler hung with pride on the wall at his mountain top retreat at Berchtesgaden. He showed the print to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain during his historic visit in 1938 and explained its special significance.

The Führer seized that occasion to have his personal gratitude relayed to Tandey, which Chamberlain conveyed via telephone on his return to London from that most fateful trip.

Henry Tandey left military service before the start of World War II and worked as a security guard in Coventry. His “good deed” haunted him for the rest of his life, especially as Nazi bombers destroyed Coventry in 1940 and London burned day and night during the Blitz

“If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people, woman and children, he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go”, he said before his death in 1977 at age 86. History Place / Countryside La Vie / Reddit


“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” - Queen 1979

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” - Queen
Album: The Game
Released 1979 video

Freddie Mercury wrote this while Queen were recording The Game in Germany. He wrote it while taking a bubble bath in his room at the Munich Hilton. Peter Hince, the head of Queen's road crew, recalled to Mojo magazine September 2009: “The idea for the song came to him while he was in the bath. He emerged, wrapped in a towel, I handed him the guitar and he worked out the chords there and then. Fred had this knack of knowing a great pop song.”

Freddie acknowledged that perhaps his limited talent on the guitar helped shape the song: “'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' took me five or ten minutes. I did that on the guitar, which I can't play for nuts, and in one way it was quite a good thing because I was restricted, knowing only a few chords. It's a good discipline because I simply had to write within a small framework. I couldn't work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think.”

This sounded a lot more like Elvis Presley than Queen. It was a different sound for the group, but their fans loved it.

This was the first song on which Freddie Mercury played rhythm guitar. He was keen to keep the song minimal, despite his limited guitar knowledge, and producer Mack claimed that he rushed into the studio to record it “before Brian could get there!”.

He also played the guitar solo on the original recording, but the tapes were lost so Brian May played the solo instead, using a Fender Telecaster to achieve the period sound. May didn't seem to like playing another guitar, and even when playing live, after performing the solo on the Telecaster he would immediately switch back to his Red Special.

At first, this was not released in the U.S. Since the album was not out yet, radio stations there started playing import copies of the single. This led Queen's record company to release it in America, about 3 months after it came out in England.

Mercury's name is in the lyrics. He sings, “Are you ready”, and the band sings, “Ready Freddie”.

This section took on a poignant edge after Mercury's death when the song was performed with guest singers, as the lyric was never altered regardless of the vocalist. Fans would take this opportunity to bellow the “Ready, Freddie!” lyric back at the band in remembrance of the singer.

On stage, this was an important part of the show. Brian May often used three different guitars during the song: the first verse was played by Freddie alone with his guitar, then Brian joined with another Ovation Acoustic; before the third verse he had already switched to a Telecaster on which he performed the solo. During the singalong part (famous for its “ready Freddie” line) Brian again changed instruments to his homemade Red Special. From 1984 onwards Mercury replaced the acoustic with another Telecaster.

Queen official site / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / All Music / Billboard / Song Facts / Rolling Stone Magazine / Official International Queen Fan Club / Wikipedia

Image: “The Game (album)” by Queen



● The planet Venus is the hottest in the Solar System. This because high volume of atmospheric CO2 creates a strong greenhouse gas effect.

● The tall fuzzy hats worn by Britain’s elite infantry regiments (including Buckingham Palace guards) are made of North American black bear fur.

● From 1908-1927, the price of a Ford Model T decreased from $850 to $300, owing mostly to improvements in the manufacturing process.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A judge was interviewing a woman regarding her pending divorce, and asked, “What are the grounds for your divorce?”

She replied, “About four acres and a nice little home in the middle of the property with a stream running by.”

“No,” he said, “I mean what is the foundation of this case?”

“It is made of concrete, brick and mortar”, she responded.

“I mean,” he continued, “What are your relations like?”

“I have an aunt and uncle living here in town, and so do my husband's parents.”

He said, “Do you have a real grudge?”

“No,” she replied, “We have a two-car carport and have never really needed one.”

“Please,” he tried again, “is there any infidelity in your marriage?”

“Yes, both my son and daughter have stereo sets. We don't necessarily like the music, but the answer to your questions is yes.”

“Ma'am, does your husband ever beat you up?”

“Yes,” she responded, “about twice a week he gets up earlier than I do.”

Finally, in frustration, the judge asked, “Lady, why do you want a divorce?”

“Oh, I don't want a divorce,” she replied. “I've never wanted a divorce. My husband does. He said he can't communicate with me!”