Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 11, 2017

Previous Week   March 13, 2017 - March 19, 2017  Next Week

First liquid-fueled rocket on March 16, 1926

First liquid-fueled rocket on March 16, 1926

First liquid-fueled rocket: The first man to give hope to dreams of space travel is American Robert H. Goddard, who successfully launches the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts, on March 16, 1926. The rocket traveled for 2.5 seconds at a speed of about 60 mph, reaching an altitude of 41 feet and landing 184 feet away. The rocket was 10 feet tall, constructed out of thin pipes, and was fueled by liquid oxygen and gasoline.

The Chinese developed the first military rockets in the early 13th century using gunpowder and probably built firework rockets at an earlier date. Gunpowder-propelled military rockets appeared in Europe sometime in the 13th century, and in the 19th century British engineers made several important advances in early rocket science. In 1903, an obscure Russian inventor named Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky published a treatise on the theoretical problems of using rocket engines in space, but it was not until Robert Goddard’s work in the 1920s that anyone began to build the modern, liquid-fueled type of rocket that by the early 1960s would be launching humans into space.

Goddard, born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1882, became fascinated with the idea of space travel after reading the H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel War of the Worlds in 1898. He began building gunpowder rockets in 1907 while a student at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and continued his rocket experiments as a physics doctoral student and then physics professor at Clark University. He was the first to prove that rockets can propel in an airless vacuum-like space and was also the first to explore mathematically the energy and thrust potential of various fuels, including liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. He received U.S. patents for his concepts of a multistage rocket and a liquid-fueled rocket, and secured grants from the Smithsonian Institute to continue his research.

In 1919, his classic treatise A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes was published by the Smithsonian. The work outlined his mathematical theories of rocket propulsion and proposed the future launching of an unmanned rocket to the moon. The press picked up on Goddard’s moon-rocket proposal and for the most part ridiculed the scientist’s innovative ideas. In January 1920, The New York Times printed an editorial declaring that Dr. Goddard “seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools” because he thought that rocket thrust would be effective beyond the earth’s atmosphere. (Three days before the first Apollo lunar-landing mission in July 1969, the Times printed a correction to this editorial.)

In December 1925, Goddard tested a liquid-fueled rocket in the physics building at Clark University. He wrote that the rocket, which was secured in a static rack, “operated satisfactorily and lifted its own weight.” On March 16, 1926, Goddard accomplished the world’s first launching of a liquid-fueled rocket from his Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn.

Goddard continued his innovative rocket work until his death in 1945. His work was recognized by the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, who helped secure him a grant from the Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics. Using these funds, Goddard set up a testing ground in Roswell, New Mexico, which operated from 1930 until 1942. During his tenure there, he made 31 successful flights, including one of a rocket that reached 1.7 miles off the ground in 22.3 seconds. Meanwhile, while Goddard conducted his limited tests without official U.S. support, Germany took the initiative in rocket development and by September 1944 was launching its V-2 guided missiles against Britain to devastating effect. During the war, Goddard worked in developing a jet-thrust booster for a U.S. Navy seaplane. He would not live to see the major advances in rocketry in the 1950s and ’60s that would make his dreams of space travel a reality. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is named in his honor.

History Channel / Wikipedia / NASA / Space.com / ESA / Britannica Encyclopedia / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA.org / Great Minds: Robert Goddard, Original Rocket Scientist (YouTube) video

Understanding Military Terminology: Scout of Many Trails (Sea Scout and Boy Scout look at globe with old sailor) ~ Norman Rockwell

Understanding Military Terminology - Materiel inventory objective

(DOD) The quantity of an item required to be on hand and on order on M-day in order to equip, provide a materiel pipeline, and sustain the approved United States force structure and those Allied forces designated for United States materiel support, through the period prescribed for war materiel planning purposes. Joint Publications JP 4-09 (Distribution Operations - Defense Technical Information Center)

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”


The Wedding-Guest feareth that a Spirit is talking to him;

‘I fear thee, ancient Mariner!

I fear thy skinny hand!

And thou art long, and lank, and brown,

As is the ribbed sea-sand.

I fear thee and thy glittering eye,

And thy skinny hand, so brown.’ -

Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!

This body dropt not down.

But the ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily life, and proceedeth to relate his horrible penance.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,

Alone on a wide wide sea!

And never a saint took pity on

My soul in agony.

He despiseth the creatures of the calm,

continued ...

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(originally published in Lyrical Ballads, 1798)

Full Poem

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Explanations should never multiply causes without necessity.”

(“Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.”)

“The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true.” Take on the argument to moderation.

~ Okrent's law:

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.”

~ Albert Einstein

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much.”

~ 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)

Doctors Remove Live Squirming Cockroach From Woman’s Skull

Doctors Remove Live Squirming Cockroach From Woman’s Skull

Watch at your own risk. The creepy-crawly menace is real and apparently there's no place a cockroach won't venture.

Forget Freddy Krueger, there's a new reason never to go to sleep again. A 42-year-old domestic helper in Chennai, India, woke in the middle of the night to a “crawling sensation” in her nostril.

According to the Indian Express newspaper, the woman felt an extremely painful “tingling, crawling sensation” behind her eyes. She visited a local clinic and was referred to a hospital, where a nasal endoscopy revealed a cockroach casually sitting on the woman's skull between her eyes.

What happened next was a grotesque moment of insect liberation captured in the nightmare-fueling video.

CNet (02/03/2017) video

Do Hats Cause Balding?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Do Hats Cause Balding?

Absolutely not - Absolutely yes: there has never been any conclusive scientific proof that wearing hats is a direct cause of hair loss.

Hair loss, be it temporary or permanent, is caused more by genetics, stress, hormone imbalance, bad diet, etc. So all hat wearers can breathe a sigh of relief.

Your hair follicles are embedded in your scalp and can't get worn away by wearing a hat, hoodie or anything else. I guess severe trauma could remove the skin and the follicles, and indeed you don't get hair growing through scar tissue.

Baldness is caused by the hair follicle changing from course thick mode to thin downy mode (hairs so small and fine you can't see them). They don't stop growing. This is essentially the opposite of what happens when a male goes through puberty and the fine downy hairs on his chin and legs, and elsewhere become thicker and longer.

Nobody knows exactly why they do this, but it seems to be related to hormones and the follicles sensitivity to them, which is generally genetic. It's almost like they get tired out. Minoxidil seems to stimulate the courser longer head hairs for many people. Recent research has also shown a connection to the absence of stem cells in the bald areas. I'm not sure about the action of chemotherapy (cancer treatment), but I should imagine it is same effect, and the hair returns to normal following treatment.

BosleyLive ScienceMedical DailyMental FlossQuora

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Between a Rock and a Hard Place:”  Meaning: Out of options. - In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options.

Origin: The dilemma of being in a position where one is faced with two equally unwelcome options appears to lie deep in the human psyche. Language always reflects people's preoccupations and there are several phrases that express this predicament.

The first of these quite literally conveys the uncomfortable nature of the choice between two lemmas (propositions), that is, 'on the horns of a dilemma'.

Other phrases that compare two less than desirable alternatives are 'the lesser of two evils', 'between the devil and the deep blue sea', 'between Scylla and Charybdis', 'an offer you can't refuse', 'Hobson's choice' and 'Catch-22'.

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

Noted: Usually passed down from an officer to a blue shirt, when the blue shirt tells the officer of something that will have little or no positive effect on the officer, but may have a great effect on the blue shirt. “Sir, if we do this thing now I can go home as soon as it's done.” Officer: “Noted”. Can also be said to an officer, but beware of over-usage.

No-Shitter: A sea story which is mostly (never completely) fictional, and unverifiable as well. Examples: “Hey, this is no shit, but I once blah blah blah...” or “Hey this is a no-shitter, I got a buddy who once blah blah blah...”.

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

Just for you MARINE

Outside: Civilian life after discharge. See also real world.

Overhead: Ceiling.

Over the Hill: Excessively old, or a Marine so long in the service they have become institutionalized.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VT-31 - Fixed Wing Training Squadrons: “Wise Owls”
Formerly ATU-601 Established February 1958, Re-designated VT-31 on May 1st 1960, Advanced Multi-engine TRAWING 4, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

“Crypt-Keeper Wasp” Turns Its Host into a Self-Sacrificing Zombie

“Crypt-Keeper Wasp” Turns Its Host into a Self-Sacrificing Zombie

If there were a horror movie set in the animal kingdom, a turquoise-green insect named the “crypt-keeper wasp” would likely play a starring role. A new study has found that this crafty, parasitic wasp can manipulate other parasitic wasps to finish an assigned task and then become its meal.

The amber-colored victims are known as “crypt gall wasps” (Bassettia pallida). They nest in tiny cavities called “crypts” on their host tree, which provides free nutrition throughout its development. Typically, when the adult wasps are ready to leave, they chew a hole through the tree's woody tissue and make their way out. But for some gall wasps, things don't go according to plan. [The 10 Most Diabolical and Disgusting Parasites]

Instead of exiting the hole they make, the wasps would plug the holes with their head and die, researchers found. This is because the wasps are being manipulated by another crypt-residing wasp that capitalizes on the gall wasps’ ability to chew a hole for its own exit. After the “crypt-keeper wasp” gets its host to create a hole, it eats its own way through the host. This grisly behaviour earned the wasp its scientific name, Euderus set (Set being the ancient Egyptian god of evil).

Live Science (01/25/2017) video

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


“We’re an American Band” - Grand Funk Railroad 1973

“We’re an American Band” - Grand Funk Railroad
Album: We're An American Band
Released 1973 video

This was written by Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer:

“We started out as a trio in 1969. Everybody calls it 'Heavy Metal,' but heavy metal didn't come around until the '80s, so we were just a hard rock trio. We were kind of riding along with the FM underground situation, so we were able to make 7-minute, 9-minute songs and we'd get the airplay because that was the in thing to do - we could get whole albums played....

So the thought came into my mind, 'We're coming to your town, we'll help you party it down.' That's really what we were doing - we were coming into town and we were the party. That's where the line came from, and the next thought I had was, 'We're an American band.' It wasn't to wave the flag or anything, it was just simply what we were. It was a true description and it kind of rolled off my mind. I went home and worked on the concept for a while and picked up a guitar; I'm not really a great guitar player, I can play tow-finger chords and that kind of stuff. I worked out the chord structure and I brought it in to rehearsal one day and there you go - we just let it go from there. It had a mind of its own.”

Regarding the line, “four young chiquitas in Omaha”, Don Brewer told us that it came from a situation where they checked into a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. “There were four groupies in the lobby waiting to see the band”, he said. “'Four young chiquitas' sounded a lot better than 'four young groupies' or 'four young girls.'”

Todd Rundgren produced the We're An American Band album. He is an accomplished musician who produced albums for Badfinger and The New York Dolls before working with Grand Funk. He has played on albums by Joan Jett, Cheap Trick and Hall & Oates, and had success as a solo artist with the hit “Hello It's Mevideo. Brewer explains his production style: “Working with Todd was very relaxed, he did the engineering himself as well as production. He would just kind of sit there and let us do our thing and work our way through all the arrangements - every now and then he'd drop in a suggestion. His real thing was the sound.”

Grand Funk was one of the best-selling bands of the '70s, and this was their biggest hit. Critics were often very harsh, especially Rolling Stone magazine, but they had a huge fan base and got lots of radio play. Says Brewer, “The time was right, it was the summer heading for the 4th of July. We'd really come off of about a year of publicity in Rolling Stone and other music mags with publicity flying over our lawsuits with Terry Knight. There were a lot of things going on where as long as we came up with something that was very commercially viable, it was going to hit, and this came and really took it over the top. We enlisted Todd Rundgren to work on the album - we wanted that commercial appeal Todd could give us with FM radio - he really understood what the sound of the time was. When he came in, the magic was there. We recorded in Miami, one thing was leading to another and it was all snowballing and happening for us. The fact that the song was so good, and so commercially good just added to it.”

Grand Funk Railroad, official site / Rolling Stone magazine / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “We're An American Band (album)” by Grand Funk Railroad



● A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, a 1859 novel, set during the French revolution, is possibly the best-selling of all time, with over 200 million copies sold.

● What substance can you drop onto a scorpions head to make it sting itself to death? Alcohol.

● This one time Ivory Soap box model MARILYN CHAMBERS starred in the X-rated film, Behind the Green Door.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A police officer jumps into his squad car and calls the station.

“I have an interesting case here”, he says. “A woman shot her husband for stepping on the floor she just mopped.”

“Have you arrested her?” asks the sergeant.

“No, not yet. The floor’s still wet.”

Pun of the Day

To termites, a group of dead trees is an arbor eat'um.