Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 51, 2015

Previous Week   December 14, 2015 - December 20, 2015  Next Week

First airplane flies on December 17, 1903

First airplane flies on December 17, 1903

First airplane flies: Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight.

Orville and Wilbur Wright grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and developed an interest in aviation after learning of the glider flights of the German engineer Otto Lilienthal in the 1890s. Unlike their older brothers, Orville and Wilbur did not attend college, but they possessed extraordinary technical ability and a sophisticated approach to solving problems in mechanical design. They built printing presses and in 1892 opened a bicycle sales and repair shop. Soon, they were building their own bicycles, and this experience, combined with profits from their various businesses, allowed them to pursue actively their dream of building the world’s first airplane.

After exhaustively researching other engineers’ efforts to build a heavier-than-air, controlled aircraft, the Wright brothers wrote the U.S. Weather Bureau inquiring about a suitable place to conduct glider tests. They settled on Kitty Hawk, an isolated village on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which offered steady winds and sand dunes from which to glide and land softly. Their first glider, tested in 1900, performed poorly, but a new design, tested in 1901, was more successful. Later that year, they built a wind tunnel where they tested nearly 200 wings and airframes of different shapes and designs. The brothers’ systematic experimentations paid off–they flew hundreds of successful flights in their 1902 glider at Kill Devils Hills near Kitty Hawk. Their biplane glider featured a steering system, based on a movable rudder, that solved the problem of controlled flight. They were now ready for powered flight.

In Dayton, they designed a 12-horsepower internal combustion engine with the assistance of machinist Charles Taylor and built a new aircraft to house it. They transported their aircraft in pieces to Kitty Hawk in the autumn of 1903, assembled it, made a few further tests, and on December 14 Orville made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged, and they spent three days repairing it. Then at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, in front of five witnesses, the aircraft ran down a monorail track and into the air, staying aloft for 12 seconds and flying 120 feet. The modern aviation age was born. Three more tests were made that day, with Wilbur and Orville alternately flying the airplane. Wilbur flew the last flight, covering 852 feet in 59 seconds.

During the next few years, the Wright brothers further developed their airplanes but kept a low profile about their successes in order to secure patents and contracts for their flying machines. By 1905, their aircraft could perform complex maneuvers and remain aloft for up to 39 minutes at a time. In 1908, they traveled to France and made their first public flights, arousing widespread public excitement. In 1909, the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps purchased a specially constructed plane, and the brothers founded the Wright Company to build and market their aircraft. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid fever in 1912; Orville lived until 1948.

The historic Wright brothers’ aircraft of 1903 is on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Library of Congress / The Museum of Flight / The Wright Brothers.org / PBS

“A Submarine Christmas Poem” - “Unknown”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“A Submarine Christmas Poem”

T'was the night before Christmas, he lived in a crowd,/p>

In a 40 man berthing, with shipmates snoring so loud.

I had come down the Sail with presents to give,

And to see just who in this rack did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,

No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stockings were hung, just a “poopy suit” close at hand,

On the bulkhead hung pictures of a far distant land.

He had medals and badges and awards from far and wide,

But one in particular my eye did soon find.

Why, they were Dolphins, with a tiny submarine...pinned on with pride,

Then a sobering thought did come to my mind.

For this place was different, it was so dark and dreary,

I had found the home of a Sub Sailor, once I could see clearly.

The Sailor lay sleeping, silent and alone,

Curled up in his rack, dreaming of home.

The face was so gentle, the berthing in good order,

Not how I pictured a U. S. Submarine Sailor.

Was this the hero whom I saw on TV?

Defending his country so we all could be free?

I realized the families that I've seen this cold night,

Owed their lives to these Sailors who were willing to fight.

“You've got high dust and low dust, and that overhead it needs cleaning!”

Soon, 'round the world the children would play,

And grownups would celebrate a new Christmas Day.

They all enjoyed freedom each day of the year

Because of these Sailors, like the one lying here.

I couldn't help but wonder how many lay alone,

On a cold Christmas Eve, under sea, far from home.

The very thought made me pause and brought a tear to my eye,

I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The Sailor awakened and I heard a gruff voice

“Santa, don't cry for me; this life is my choice.

I'll defend the seas on this day

Then on re-inspection he explained with a huff,

And let others rejoice.”

The Sailor rolled over and drifted to sleep,

I couldn't control it, I started to weep.

I kept watch then for hours, silent and still,

And we both shivered a bit from the night's aching chill.

It seemed like eternity until reveille sounded

I didn't want to leave, on that dreary, cold night,

This Guardian of Honor, so willing to fight.

Then the Sailor rolled over and with a voice soft and pure,

Whispered, “Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day... all's secure.”

~ Unknown

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anythinThe old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”

~ Oscar Wilde

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Winners do what losers don’t want to do.”

~ Unknown

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)

Strainer Than Fiction - A Boston woman was allowed to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head for her driver's license photo, due to her belief in the Pastafarian religion.

“Strainer Than Fiction”

A Boston woman was allowed to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head for her driver's license photo, due to her belief in the Pastafarian religion.

NEWS: While the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) does not typically permit motorists to wear head coverings or hats while posing for driver's license photos, the state does allow exceptions to that rule for religious reasons. One such exception was made in November 2015 for Lindsey Miller, a Boston woman who identifies as a “Pastafarian”, a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

A Massachusetts agency is letting a woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wear a colander on her head in her driver's license photo after she cited her religious beliefs.

Miller says wearing the spaghetti strainer allows her to express her beliefs, like other religions are allowed to do.

The Boston Globe reported that Miller first attempted to get her license photo taken while wearing a spaghetti strainer in August 2015, but she was denied in her efforts at that time by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Miller filed an appeal with the help of Patty DeJuneas, a lawyer from the Secular Legal Society, and on 10 November 2015, the RMV relented to Miller's request:

Miller had spent two months without a license when the RMV suddenly canceled her appeal hearing in October. A second hearing was slated, but officials from the Registry instead contacted DeJuneas and agreed to allow Miller to wear the colander in her license photo.

“The RMV processed the customer's request consistent with its established facial image policy”, Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said in an e-mailed statement.

When asked why the RMV shifted directions, Verseckes said, “We do not get into the sincerity or the veracity of religious beliefs.”

Verseckes said he didn't know if Miller was the first person in the state to wear a colander in a license photo.

“The RMV does not track instances in which we accommodate religious beliefs asserted when license images are captured”, he said.

The RMV is not the first to question the beliefs of Pastafarians. In fact, Miller herself admitted that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is largely a parody of religion and not a religion in itself:

The group, which subscribes to the idea that an invisible creature made from cooked noodles could be responsible for gravity, sells itself as all-inclusive, which attracted Miller in the first place.

“t's a religion that uses parody. We accept all dogma, but we reject all dogma at the same time”, Miller said. “That's what is so great about Pastafarianism. It accepts everyone.”

While some people may question the sincerity of Miller's beliefs, DeJuneas countered that the First Amendment protects every religion and religious adherent:

“The First Amendment applies to every person and every religion, so I was dismayed to hear that Lindsay had been ridiculed for simply seeking the same freedoms and protections afforded to people who belong to more traditional or theistic religions. We appreciate that the RMV recognized the error, apologized, and issued a license respecting her First Amendment rights, and hope that RMV staff will be trained to respect diversity.”

“If people are given the right to wear religious garments in government ID photos, then this must extend to people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”, said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center

According to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's web site, Pastafarianism has been around for hundreds of years, but the religion only went mainstream in 2005 when Bobby Henderson referenced it on an open letter to the Kansas School Board regarding a controversy over the state's teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools:

I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don't.

Snopes (11/16/2015)

What Are Those Dark-Green Mailboxes That Don't Accept Mail?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Are Those Dark-Green Mailboxes That Don't Accept Mail?

You know a mailbox when you see one. (They’re those blue hunks of metal bolted to the sidewalk with the creaky flaps that go reeeeaaaaaallllk when you pull them open.) But what about the dark-green boxes that don’t have any slots to accept mail?

Called postal relay boxes, these work as storage containers for mail carriers as they make their rounds. Carriers can replenish their bags on the go, removing the need to constantly return to the distribution center (or carry everything at once). They are most prevalent in cities where USPS workers make deliveries on foot, and the boxes are either filled by the carriers themselves or postal workers in trucks who make larger delivery runs.

Ideally, these relay boxes are put at the most convenient possible locations along carriers’ routes. A 1992 study in the American Journal of Mathematical and Management Sciences titled “Locating Postal Relay Boxes Using a Set Covering Algorithm” details the number-crunching that goes into this. Using data from Canadian mail routes, the researchers took into account things like maximum mailbag weight (35 pounds), average mail volume (depending on day), and the number of mail carriers who can use each relay box at once. The algorithm resulted in a lower number of needed relay boxes, which cut down on cost.

You may have noticed that a green relay box that was present on your corner, say, ten years ago may no longer be there. As the Internet further reduces the need for paper mail, carrier loads have been getting lighter, accounting for fewer relay boxes. When asked about this a USPS representative confirmed that they were being removed “if they were no longer needed.” The rep was also tight-lipped about the very nature of the relay boxes, saying “[They] are for official postal use only. Any further information regarding them is proprietary.”

This reticence was likely due to security concerns. According to the Postal Inspection Service’s law enforcement guide, “relay boxes can contain large quantities of mail in gray sacks that thieves cart off looking for checks and credit cards.” It goes without saying, but please leave the relay boxes alone; they're just trying to help.

Mental FlossUSPS (United States Postal Service)Wikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Show Your True Colors”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Show Your True Colors:

Meaning: To reveal one’s true nature

History: Warships used to fly multiple flags to confuse their enemies. However, the rules of warfare stated that a ship had to hoist its true flag before firing and hence, display its country’s true colors.Wikipedia

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Mess Deck Intelligence: Rumors (mostly false) that spread throughout the ship like wildfire. Often concerns radical changes to the ships schedule. See “Rumor Control” or “Scuttlebutt”.

Mid or Middie: Short for Midshipman, which is navy speak for a college student studying to become a naval officer.

Mid-Watch: Watch usually results in no sleep before or after this watch.

Milkman: Referring to a sailor wearing the working white uniform, since the uniform highly resembles a milkman.

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

Just for you MARINE

H && I: Harassment and interdiction artillery fire designed to limit and alter enemy movement.

H-34: Sikorsky UH-34 resupply and medevac helicopter used in Vietnam.

Haj or Haji or Haçi: (Iraqi Freedom) An Iraqi citizen. A local (usually a good guy). Also Haggie, from the Johnny Quest cartoon who has a sidekick named Haggie (supposedly meaning friend).

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VR-1 - Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 1: “Star Lifters”
Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“Riders On The Storm” - The Doors 1971

“Riders On The Storm” - The Doors
Album: LA Woman
Released 1971 video

This was the last song Jim Morrison recorded. He went to France and died a few weeks later. The single was released in June, 1971, shortly before Morrison's death.

The song can be seen as an autobiographical account of Morrison's life: he considered himself a “Rider on the storm”. The “killer on the road” is a reference to a screenplay he wrote called The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral), where Morrison was going to play the part of a hitchhiker who goes on a murder spree. The lyrics, “Girl you gotta love your man” can be seen as a desperate plea to his long time girlfriend Pamela.

As it says in Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis, in 1962, while Jim was attending Florida State University in Tallahassee, he was seeing a girl named Mary Werbelow who lived in Clearwater, 280 miles away. Jim would oftentimes hitchhike to see her. “Those solitary journeys on hot and dusty Florida two-lane blacktop roads, with his thumb out and his imagination on fire with lust and poetry and Nietzsche and God knows what else - taking chances on redneck truckers, fugitive homos, and predatory cruisers - left an indelible psychic scar on Jimmy, whose notebooks began to obsessively feature scrawls and drawings of a lone hitchhiker, an existential traveler, faceless and dangerous, a drifting stranger with violent fantasies, a mystery tramp: the killer on the road.”

This evolved out of a jam session when the band was messing around with “Ghost Riders In The Skyvideo, a cowboy song by Stan Jonesvideo. It was Jim Morrison's idea to alter the title to “Riders On The Storm”.

The Doors brought in bass players Marc Benno and Jerry Scheff to play on the album. Scheff came up with the distinctive bass line after Manzarek played him what he had in mind on his keyboard. It took a while to figure out, since it was much harder to play on a bass than a keyboard.

Ray Manzarek used a Fender Rhodes electric piano to create the effect of rain.

This was the last song on the last Doors album with Morrison. Fittingly, it ends with the storm fading slowly to silence. The remaining Doors released two more albums without Morrison before breaking up in 1972. In 2002, Kreiger and Manzarek reunited as “The Doors Of The 21st Century”. Densmore, who says he wasn't invited to join them, went to court and eventually got a ruling preventing the group from using The Doors in its name, so they changed their name to “Riders On The Storm” after this song.

If you listen closely, you can hear Jim Morrison whispering the lyrics over his own singing, which causes a kind of creepy effect. This was Morrison's final contribution as a rock star. Ray Manzarek told Uncut magazine September 2011: “There's a whisper voice on 'Riders on the Storm,' if you listen closely, a whispered overdub that Jim adds beneath his vocal. That's the last thing he ever did. An ephemeral, whispered overdub.”

Paul Rothchild, who produced The Doors' first five albums, decided not to work on this because he didn't like the songs. He thought this sounded like “cocktail music”. The Doors ended up producing it themselves with the help of their engineer, Bruce Botnick.

The single was shortened for radio play. Some of the piano solo was cut out.

In 2000, the surviving members of The Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Scott Stapp from Creed sang on this track.

Creed contributed a version of this to the 2000 Doors tribute album Stoned Immaculate. Creed also performed it with Doors guitarist Robby Krieger at Woodstock '99. Krieger sat in on Creed's “What's This Life For” during the set.

Doors drummer John Densmore wrote a book called Riders On The Storm about his life with Jim Morrison and The Doors.

Eric Red, the screenwriter of the 1986 film The Hitcher, has said that his screenplay was inspired by this song. He said in an interview with DVD Active: “I thought the elements of the song - a killer on the road in a storm plus the cinematic feel of the music - would make a terrific opening for a film. I started with that scene and went from there.”

When the 71-year-old Ray Manzarak was asked by the Somerville Journal in March 2010 if he turns up or turns off Doors music when he hears it on the radio. Manzarek said, “Oh, God, turn it up! Are you kidding? Living up in northern California, it rains a lot, so they play the heck out of 'Riders on the Storm.' And when that comes on, I crank that sucker, man.”

When he recorded this song, Jim Morrison had already decided that he was going to leave the band and go to Paris, where he would die. Some of the lyrics in this song (“girl, you gotta love your man...”) relate to his love for his girlfriend Pam Courson, who went with him to France.

At the end of this song, there are sound effects of thunder, and the faint voice of Jim Morrison whispering, “riders on the storm”. This was envisioned as his spirit whispering from the beyond.

The Doors official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Rolling Stone / Biography / Billboard / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “L.A. Woman‎ (album)” by The Doors



● The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.

● The University of Alaska spans four time zones.

● In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

The engineer fumed, “What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!”

The doctor chimed in, “I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!”

The priest said, “Here comes the greens-keeper. Let's have a word with him.” He said, “Hello George, What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?”

The greens-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!”

The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”

The doctor said, “Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if here's anything she can do for them.”

The engineer said, “Why can't they play at night?”