Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 51, 2016

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Doomsday: The End of Days on December 21, 2012

Doomsday - The End of Days on December 21, 2012

Doomsday - The End of Days: For years there was speculation that on December 21, 2012, the world as we know it would end.

Some predicted that we’d be wiped out by a natural disaster like a giant tidal wave, an Earth-wide earthquake or a tremendous volcanic eruption.

Others believed that on that day in December, the Earth would collide with a mysterious “Planet X”, causing magnetic pole shifts, gravitational reversals or a black hole so big that our solar system would simply disappear. What’s more, believers said that this news was not really news at all; on the contrary, they argued, we have known about the coming apocalypse since the ancient Maya predicted and recorded it on their Long Count calendar more than 2,200 years ago.

The Ancient Maya

Historians have surmised that the Maya chose the Long Count calendar's base date to commemorate the mid-August 3114 BC passage of the sun over a particularly sacred site in southern Mexico.

The Calendar Round

The first Mayan calendar, known as the Calendar Round system, was based on two overlapping annual cycles: a 260-day sacred year and a 365-day secular year that named 18 months with 20 days each. Under this system, each day was assigned four pieces of identifying information: a day number and day name in the sacred calendar and a day number and month name in the secular calendar. Every 52 years counted as a single interval, or Calendar Round, and after each interval the calendar would reset itself like a clock.

The Long Count Calendar

But because the Calendar Round measured time in an endless loop, it was a bad way to fix events in an absolute chronology or in relationship to one another over a long period. For this job, a priest working in about 236 B.C. devised another system: a calendar that he called the Long Count. The Long Count system identified each day by counting forward from a fixed date in the distant past.

The End of the World?

Today, the Maya who developed the Long Count calendar believed the end of one cycle would simply signal the beginning of another. According to this logic, a new Grand Cycle would start on December 22, 2012. However, some people in the U.S. and Europe came to believe that the calendar would not reset itself. Instead, they said, the end of the cycle would bring the end of the world.

scholars say that Mayan communities call the end-of-the-world stories “gringo inventions”. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / December 21 2012 / NASA / George Washington Full Documentary (YouTube)video History Channel December 21, 2012-(1 of 2) (YouTube)video History Channel December 21, 2012-(2 of 2) (YouTube)video

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Maritime Security Program

(DOD) Civilian-cA program authorized in the Maritime Security Act of 2003 requiring the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to establish a fleet of active, commercially viable, militarily useful, privately-owned vessels to meet national defense and other security requirements. Also called MSP. Joint Publications 4-01.2 (Joint Doctrine for the Defense Transportation System)

“Christmas at Sea”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Christmas at Sea”

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;

The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;

The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;

And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;

But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.

We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,

And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;

All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;

All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,

For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.


~ Robert Louis Stevenson (from Ballads, 1890, originally published in The Scots Observer, 1888)

Full Poem

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning 'lousy hunter'”

~ Andy Rooney

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something,

until it becomes a memory.”

~ Dr. Seuss

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,

and behold,

everything is softer and more beautiful.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

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)

The world's weirdest Christmas traditions

The world's weirdest Christmas traditions

It’s that special time of year when you leave your shoes outside at night and hope Santa doesn’t fill them with sticks.

There are some very weird Christmas traditions around the globe. So take a look at these traditions, to see how other countries celebrate Christmas.

Telegraph (12/04/2015) video

Why do chimpanzees have such wrinkled faces?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why do chimpanzees have such wrinkled faces?

So the question shouldn’t be, why are chimps so wrinkly? That’s easy: they have lots of facial muscles for signalling complex expressions. The question should be, why are humans so strangely smooth? And the obvious answer is: fat. We have a layer of soft, pillowy subcutaneous fat which billows under our skin, making us pleasantly smooth and rounded and hiding our facial muscles.

Compared with other apes, we store a huge amount of fat and have small muscles. The average female chimp has ~3.6% body fat; a newborn human infant has ~13%, and the average woman 24–31%. The sheer amount of fat we store is astonishing; in particular, no other mammal has such chubby babies. Fat storage is thought to be an adaptation that supports our brains. Brains are hugely energetically expensive to build and run. As infant brain development passes through some critical stages, it’s vital that they have enough stored fat to support their growing brains even if their family goes through a temporary food shortage.

But we also store our fat differently. Apes keep their fat internally, mostly beneath the muscles in their torso, so all you can see externally are their big scary muscles. But we humans store a layer of blubber right under our skin. The other mammals who do this are mostly marine mammals trying to keep warm, a fact that led some researchers to speculate that our lineage went through an aquatic phase. However, most researchers don’t think this is likely.

So why do we store fat on our faces?

Since we’ve co-evolved with our babies trying to convince us to invest in them via highly-visible facial fat, we respond quite automatically with kindly and nurturing feelings toward chubby-faced entities. We can’t help it. It’s cute. Even older children and adult females retain high levels of facial fat, again eliciting gentleness and empathy from potentially dangerous adversaries. Actually, our whole species shows a suspicious trend toward neoteny, which some researchers have described as a self-domestication process. So much for survival of the fittest: we got survival of the sweetest, cutest, chubbiest munchkins.

And thus evolution, in addition to all the other awful things it’s done, can be blamed for the blobbiness of emojis.

Science AAASBeauty AnalysisNCBI


- Do humans have more in common with chimpanzees or gorillas?

- Do chimpanzees have theory of mind?

- Does sleeping face-down create wrinkles or noticeable face deformations in the long run?

- Do humans have more in common with chimpanzees or gorillas?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Christmas Card Saying and Phrases”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Christmas Card Saying and Phrases” “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” was printed on the first Christmas card.

Since then the billions of cards that have been sent almost all contain a printed verse. Many of these are culled from religious or sentimental texts, notably from Victorian authors such as Charles Dickens.

Here's a selection of the numerous verses and rhymes that have been used as source material by Christmas card writers - from the touching and profound to the comic and cynical:

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;

It makes no noise at all,

But softly gives itself away;

While quite unselfish, it grows small. - Eva K. Logue

A Christmas gambol oft could cheer

The poor man's heart through half the year. - Walter Scott

A Christmas shopper's complaint is one of long-standing.

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

Mighty Battle Pig: Nickname for USS WS Sims (FF-1059) — “Mighty Battle Frigate”.

Mighty Mo: Nickname for the USS Missouri (BB-63), now a museum ship at Pearl Harbor.

Mike boat: see “8-boat”

Missile Sponge: Usually a frigate or destroyer with limited air defense capability stationed on the outer ring of a battlegroup, as they are the ships most likely to be hit in a convoy.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSMWSP - HSM Weapons School Pacific: “Honey Badgers”
Naval Station Mayport (IATA: NZY – ICAO: KNZY – FAA LID: NZY), San Diego, California / Coronado, California

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Does Your “Self” Have a Soul?

Does Your “Self” Have a Soul?

Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator, writer and host of “Closer to Truth”, a public television series and online resource that features the world's leading thinkers exploring humanity's deepest questions. This essay, the third of a four-part series on the Self, is based on “Closer to Truth” episodes and videos, produced and directed by Peter Getzels and streamed at closertotruth.com. Kuhn contributed it to Live Science's Expert Voices.

Most religions claim that there is more to the self than the brain. The traditional understanding is that human sentience and selfhood are conveyed via some kind of nonphysical substance, often called a “soul”.

Though the soul is far out of favor with most contemporary philosophers, a few distinguished scholars defend and scrutinize the idea of a self that is founded on the soul and extends beyond the physical and could survive after the body dies.

“If physical properties and mental properties were just properties of bodies there would be no difference between these cases;” but because there are obvious differences between “you” and “me”, Swinburne claimed that “there must be another essential part of me which goes where I go, and this we can call my 'soul'”. Live Science (11/16/2016) video

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


“Holly Jolly Christmas” - Burl Ives 1965

“Holly Jolly Christmas” - Burl Ives
Album: Have A Holly Jolly Christmas
Released 1965 video

Burl Ives was a very successful stage and screen actor as well as a folk singer. He acted in the film Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, among others, and his list of songs include “A Little Bitty Tearvideo and “A Funny Way Of Laughinvideo.

This was written by songwriter Johnny Marks, who had already written the Christmas classic “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeervideo, a song that proved so popular the stop-motion animators at Rankin-Bass created a half-hour TV special to expand on the song. Ives was brought in for star power, to play the narrator, Sam the Snowman, and take over several songs originally slated for the character of Yukon Cornelius. One was “Silver And Gold”, and this was the other.

A version by Lady Antebellum video was released as a single from their 2012 Christmas album On A Winter's Night. The trio recorded a video in Nashville, which was directed by TK McKamy. The clip follows a little boy's attempt to get his festive wish. “'A Holly Jolly Christmas' just has something kind of flirty about it”, said L A's Hillary Scott. “So, when it came time to make the video, we really wanted it to feel lighthearted and fun with a sense of humor…something that just makes you smile.”

Burl Ives official site / Biography / Rolling Stone magazine / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas (album)” by Burl Ives

“Jingle Bell Rock” - Bobby Helms 1957

“Jingle Bell Rock” - Bobby Helms
Album: Jingle Bell Rock
Released 1957 video

This is considered the first mainstream rock 'n' roll Christmas song. Helms was a new, relatively successful Country artist with two #1 country hits in 1957, “Fraulein” and “My Special Angel”, both of which were crossover hits that made it into the pop Top 40.

Although this was released only two days before Christmas in 1957, the single still hit #6 on the pop chart. The song was re-released around Christmas in 1958 and again in 1960, making it back to the charts each time.

The B-side of the single is “Captain Santa Claus And His Reindeer Space Patrol.”

Many artists have covered this song, including Hall & Oates, The Platters, 38 Special, and The Beach Boys. The only other version to chart was by Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell; their rendition hit #21 in 1962.

The Hall & Oates version, released in 1983, was accompanied by an exceptionally campy video that got a lot of airplay on MTV, which launched in 1981. When we asked Daryl Hall why they covered the song, he said that he was in a rockabilly phase at the time and wanted to do a rockabilly Christmas song.

This song is credited to Joe Beal and Jim Boothe. Hank “Sugarfoot” Garland played guitar on this track as well as Brenda Lee's “Rockin' Around The Christmas Treevideo.

Bobby Helms official site / Bobby Helms Biography / Rolling Stone magazine / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Jingle Bell Rock (album)” by Bobby Helms

“More Christmas Songs” YouTube video



● The Grinch tried to steal Christmas from the “Whos of Whoville” in the 1966 cartoon based on the Dr. Seuss Story

● Cranberry sauce is the Christmas food is made from “marsh-whorts”.

● Turkey (the bird) is native to the forests of North America.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A Night at the Opera

The contract scene between Driftwood and Fiorello ("the party of the first part ..."):

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here, this thing here?

Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that's the usual clause that's in every contract. That just says, uh, it says, uh, if any of the parties participating in this contract are shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.

Fiorello: Well, I don't know...

Driftwood: t's all right. That's, that's in every contract. That's, that's what they call a sanity clause.

Fiorello: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You can't fool me. There ain't no Sanity Clause!

Pun of the Day

Did you hear that one of Santa's reindeer now works for Proctor and Gambel?

Its true, Comet cleans sinks!

Mom, can I have a dog for Christmas?

No, you can have turkey like everyone else.

What nationality is Santa Claus?

North Polish.