Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 50, 2016

Previous Week   December 12, 2016 - December 18, 2016  Next Week

George Washington dies on December 14, 1799

George Washington dies on December 14, 1799

George Washington dies: George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old.

George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses.

During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England.

With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth.

After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States.

As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.

In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / White House.gov / Biography / Mount Vernon.org George Washington Full Documentary (YouTube)video 25 Interesting Things About George Washington (YouTube)video

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Maritime pre-positioning ships

(DOD) Civilian-crewed, Military Sealift Command-chartered ships that are usually forward-deployed and loaded with pre-positioned equipment and up to 30 days of supplies to support Marine expeditionary brigades. Also called MPSs. See also Navy cargo handling battalion. Joint Publications 3-02.1 (Amphibious Embarkation and Debarkation - BITS)


The Old Salt’s Corner


(from Underwoods, 1887)

Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson (from Underwoods, 1887)

(Note: Stevenson wrote this poem long before he died and always intended it for his own epitaph.

After he was taken from life suddenly by a cerebral hemorrhage at his home at Vaiilima in Samoa in 1894, the poem was inscribed on his tombstone on top of Mount Vaea overlooking the house he had lived in. That inscription contains one misquote which has often been repeated: “Home is the sailor, home from the sea”.)

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

In metaphysics also known as the Identity of Indiscernibles. It states:

“If two objects have all their properties in common, then they are one and the same object.”

~ Leibniz's law

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Sometimes life touches one person with a bouquet

and another with a thorn bush,

but the first may find a wasp in the flowers,

and the second may discover roses among the thorns.”

~ Billy Graham

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Sometimes life will test you but remember this:

when you walk up a mountain, your legs get stronger.”

~ Anonymous

Why don't airlines have parachutes for passengers?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why don't airlines have parachutes for passengers?

There are four reasons why you don't find a parachute under your seat on commercial airlines.

1. Parachutes are bulky, heavy and expensive.

2. Passengers are not trained to use them.

3. There isn't a convenient way to jump out of typical airliners.

4. There are very few situations where it would save anybody.

Aviation Stack ExchangeBBCGizmodoMental FlossPBSQuora

Where Did That Saying Come From? “The blind leading the blind”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

The blind leading the blind:”  Meaning: Uninformed and incompetent people leading others who are similarly incapable.

Origin: This appears in the Bible, Matthew 15:14 - from Miles Coverdale's Bible, 1535:

“Let they go, they are ye blynde leaders of ye blynde. Wha one blinde leadeth another, they fall both i ye diche.” From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

Biblical citations of commonly used English phrases usually tend to be earlier than those from other sources. In this case the thought was probably inherited from the Upanishads - the sacred Hindu treatises, which were written between 800BC and 200 BC and first translated into English between 1816-19. From Katha Upanishad we have:

Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.

Pieter Bruegel's 1568 oil painting, often called The Parable of the Blind, is what appears to be a literal depiction of a line of blind people following each other and stumbling into a ditch, as forecast in Matthew 15.

English Stack Exchange - Phrases.org UK

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Mid: Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy or Naval ROTC; “Middie” is considered derogatory.

Midnight Ops: The best time to get something done when there are not as many witnesses around.

Midnight Requisition: To “borrow” (with varying degress of consent) a needed item from another unit. Often condoned when essential to get underway.

MidShitHead: Enlisted common term for a Naval Academy or ROTC Midshipman on their summer cruise on a ship or a command, gaining real Navy experience between academic class years.

Mid-Rats: Short for midnight rations. Food served to the midwatch. Generally leftover lunch and/or dinner.

Mid-Watch: Watch from 0000-0400 (2345-0345), usually results in no sleep before or after this watch.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSMWSL - HSM Weapons School Atlantic: “Talons”
Naval Station Mayport (IATA: NRB, ICAO: KNRB, FAA LID: NRB), Jacksonville, Florida

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Are you using the English language correctly? Take the Oxford University quiz that reveals the phrases we all get wrongCan the Great Barrier Reef be saved? Uproar as writer claims world’s largest living structure is DEADHow many animals can YOU see? Tricky wildlife brainteaser featuring 16 beasts leaves the Internet baffledCannabis link to brittle bonesThe empathy map of the world: the table in results even the researchers admit are “surprising” Daily Mail

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Alien Life May Munch on Galactic Cosmic Rays

Alien Life May Munch on Galactic Cosmic Rays

Extreme microbes that live in hostile places on Earth may feed off of cosmic rays that zip through space, according to a study of a bizarre bacterium thriving deep in a dark gold mine.

If life exists on other planets such as Mars, it too could be gobbling up cosmic rays in order to survive, the new study suggests.

“When you have radiation penetrating deep below the surface, where there might be water on Mars or (Jupiter's moon) Europa, then it could start chemical reactions that life could use”, said study author Dimitra Atri, a research scientist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle. Organisms that live off of galactic cosmic rays could even dwell on rogue planets that are not bound to any star and instead drift throughout interstellar space, Atri added. (Extreme Life on Earth: 8 Bizarre Creatures) Live Science (11/12/2016) video

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


“Sledgehammer” - Peter Gabriel 1986

“Sledgehammer” - Peter Gabriel
Album: So
Released 1986 video

This was influenced by the '60s soul music Gabriel listened to as a teenager, in particular Otis Redding, who Peter saw perform at the Ram Jam club in London in 1967. The horn section was typical of this sound.

This song is about sex; the lyrics are loaded with phallic symbols. In addition to the word “sledgehammer”, other references to the male member include the train, bumper cars, and the big dipper. The innuendo was typical of the blues music Gabriel drew from.

Gabriel said regarding the theme of this song: “Sometimes sex can break through barriers when other forms of communication are not working too well.”

Some of the lyrics were inspired by a quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who said a good book breaks through like “An ax in a frozen sea.”

Gabriel used a horn section (the legendary Memphis Horns, who played on several hits from Stax Records) on this song, which led to criticism that he was trying to copy the style of Phil Collins to gain commercial success. Collins was using horns and getting a lot of radio play with songs like “Easy Lovervideo and “Sussudiovideo. Gabriel has said that this was never his intent and that he was more of an influence on Collins, his bandmate with Genesis.

According to some sources, this is the most-played video of all-time on MTV. When the network listed their 100 Greatest Music Videos in 1999, “Sledgehammer” was #4. The Top 3:

1) “Thrillervideo (1983)

2) “Voguevideo (1990)

3) “Smells Like Teen Spiritvideo (1991)

Peter Gabriel official site / Rolling Stone magazine / Biography / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “So (album)” by Peter Gabriel



● The Earth is about 13 thousand kilometers (8000 miles) wide, whereas the Sun is roughly 1.4 million kilometers (900,000 miles) across. If the Sun were a hollow ball, you could fit about one million Earths inside of it!

● The Canary Islands are named after Dogs (canines), not birds

● SMITH-BARNEY In the 1980s advertised “We make money the old fashioned way, we earn it.”

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A science teacher tells his class, “Oxygen is a must for breathing and life. It was discovered in 1773.”

A blonde student responds, “Thank God I was born after 1773! Otherwise I would have died without it.”

Weird Questions Librarians Hear:

Before google, there were librarians. Here are some queries posed to the poor, suffering staff of public libraries:

A woman wanted “inspirational material on grass and lawns.”

“Who built the English Channel?”

“Is there a full moon every night in Acapulco?”

“Music suitable for a doll wedding to take place between a Shirley Temple doll and a teddy bear.”

“Can the New York Public Library recommend a good forger?”

Pun of the Day

Why do archers shoot arrows? Could it be they are trying to get a point across?