Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 38, 2017

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The Superfortress takes flight on September 07, 1940

The Superfortress takes flight on September 21, 1942

The Superfortress takes flight: On this day in 1942, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress makes its debut flight in Seattle, Washington. It was the largest bomber used in the war by any nation.

The B-29 was conceived in 1939 by General Hap Arnold, who was afraid a German victory in Europe would mean the United States would be devoid of bases on the eastern side of the Atlantic from which to counterattack. A plane was needed that would travel faster, farther, and higher than any then available, so Boeing set to creating the four-engine heavy bomber. The plane was extraordinary, able to carry loads almost equal to its own weight at altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. It contained a pilot console in the rear of the plane, in the event the front pilot was knocked out of commission. It also sported the first radar bombing system of any U.S. bomber.

The Superfortress made its test run over the continental United States on September 21, but would not make its bombing-run debut until June 5, 1944, against Bangkok, in preparation for the Allied liberation of Burma from Japanese hands. A little more than a week later, the B-29 made its first run against the Japanese mainland. On June 14, 60 B-29s based in Chengtu, China, bombed an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. While the raid was less than successful, it proved to be a morale booster to Americans, who were now on the offensive.

Meanwhile, the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific were being recaptured by the United States, primarily to provide air bases for their new B-29s—a perfect position from which to strike the Japanese mainland on a consistent basis. Once the bases were ready, the B-29s were employed in a long series of bombing raids against Tokyo. Although capable of precision bombing at high altitudes, the Superfortresses began dropping incendiary devices from a mere 5,000 feet, firebombing the Japanese capital in an attempt to break the will of the Axis power. One raid, in March 1945, killed more than 80,000 people.

But the most famous, or perhaps infamous, use of the B-29 would come in August, as it was the only plane capable of delivering a 10,000-pound bomb—the atomic bomb. The Enola Gay and the Bock’s Car took off from the Marianas, on August 6 and 9, respectively, and flew into history.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Boeing / Air Power Squadron.org / Pima Air and Space Museum.org Crawl through a B-29 Superfortress IN FLIGHT! + Real-Time procedures / ATC - Oshkosh AirVenture! (YouTube search) video

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

Understanding Military Terminology - Meteorological and oceanographic environment

(DOD) The surroundings that extend from the sub-bottom of the Earth’s oceans, through maritime, land areas, airspace, ionosphere, and outward into space, which include conditions, resources, and natural phenomena, in and through which the joint force operates.

Joint Publications (JP 3-59) (Meteorological and Oceanographic Operations - Defense)

“The Odyssey”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“The Odyssey”


Ulysses slept in the cloister upon an undressed bullock's hide, on the top of which he threw several skins of the sheep the suitors had eaten, and Eurynome threw a cloak over him after he had laid himself down. There, then, Ulysses lay wakefully brooding upon the way in which he should kill the suitors; and by and by, the women who had been in the habit of misconducting themselves with them, left the house giggling and laughing with one another. This made Ulysses very angry, and he doubted whether to get up and kill every single one of them then and there, or to let them sleep one more and last time with the suitors. His heart growled within him, and as a bitch with puppies growls and shows her teeth when she sees a stranger, so did his heart growl with anger at the evil deeds that were being done: but he beat his breast and said, “Heart, be still, you had worse than this to bear on the day when the terrible Cyclops ate your brave companions; yet you bore it in silence till your cunning got you safe out of the cave, though you made sure of being killed.”

Thus he chided with his heart, and checked it into endurance, but he tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side and then on the other, that he may get it cooked as soon as possible, even so did he turn himself about from side to side, thinking all the time how, single handed as he was, he should contrive to kill so large a body of men as the wicked suitors. But by and by Minerva came down from heaven in the likeness of a woman, and hovered over his head saying, “My poor unhappy man, why do you lie awake in this way? This is your house: your wife is safe inside it, and so is your son who is just such a young man as any father may be proud of.”

“Goddess”, answered Ulysses, “all that you have said is true, but I am in some doubt as to how I shall be able to kill these wicked suitors single handed, seeing what a number of them there always are. And there is this further difficulty, which is still more considerable. Supposing that with Jove's and your assistance I succeed in killing them, I must ask you to consider where I am to escape to from their avengers when it is all over.”

“For shame”, replied Minerva, “why, any one else would trust a worse ally than myself, even though that ally were only a mortal and less wise than I am. Am I not a goddess, and have I not protected you throughout in all your troubles? I tell you plainly that even though there were fifty bands of men surrounding us and eager to kill us, you should take all their sheep and cattle, and drive them away with you. But go to sleep; it is a very bad thing to lie awake all night, and you shall be out of your troubles before long.”

BOOK XX continued ...

~ Homer

Written 800 B.C.E

Translated by Samuel Butler

Table of Contents

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Happiness is not having what you want,

but wanting what you have.”

~ Rabbi H. Schachtel

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“If at first you don’t succeed,

try doing it the way mom told you to

in the beginning.”

~ 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)

'People Are Very Impressed With This Stag Beetle Who Creates Art

'People Are Very Impressed With This Stag Beetle Who Creates Art

Spike, a stag beetle from Japan, is capturing the hearts and minds of people around the world with his original drawings. Spike and his owner, an English teacher named Mandy, skyrocketed to internet fame.

Mandy was experimenting with the kinds of things Spike could grasp with his strong mandibles when she gave him a marker. “He moved it around on the page, so I took some photos of his ‘work,’” she said.

Spike's art was so popular, his owner put some of it up for sale on eBay, where the top bid was more than $150 as of Saturday afternoon. According to Spike’s official Twitter account, 15 percent of the proceeds will go to stag beetle conservation.

On Twitter, she shared a picture of her setup, which includes a terrarium with soil deep enough to dig in, as well as leaves and logs to hide under.

Mandy notes that stag beetles are not particularly affectionate, but they are “very fun to watch”.

However, just as with basically anything that seems fun or nice on the internet, there’s a dark side to the tale of Spike the artistic beetle. The massive popularity in Japan of beetles as pets — some of which are captured in the wild and imported from other Asian countries - has led to concern from conservationists.

The environmental impact of collecting beetles from the wild and the possibility that non-native beetles in Japan will escape and have a detrimental effect on the local ecosystem could be major issues, wrote Australian ecologist Tim R. New in his 2016 book “Alien Species and Insect Conservation”.

“High prices are powerful incentive to overcorrect and obtain beetles by whatever means are possible”, he wrote.

And a 2005 study in the Journal of Insect Conservation recommended tighter regulations on the southeast Asia beetle trade in order to minimize harm to habitats and the beetles themselves.

Huffington Post (07/08/2017) video

What’s The Smallest Country In The World?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What’s The Smallest Country In The World?

By area or population - Vatican City.

The issue is defining what a country is, and some argue that the Vatican doesn’t fulfill that criteria.

The first problem is that it’s not a member of the United Nations. Technically, it’s not even a non-member state - that would be the Holy See, which the United Nations describes as “a nearly 2,000-year-old term that refers to the international sovereignty of the Pope, or leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican City State is the geographic property that ensures that sovereignty.”

But UN membership is not required to be called a “country”. Few would argue that Switzerland wasn’t a country before it joined the UN in 2002, or that Italy only came into existence when it joined in 1955.

One of the most common ways to define a country is by using the Montevideo Convention, which was signed between several North and South American countries in 1933. According to Article One of the Convention: “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a permanent population; b) a defined territory; c) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

Of these, the Vatican has a permanent population of around 1000 people (although, due to the odd way the Vatican is structured, only about half the population actually has Vatican citizenship), a clearly defined territory, a government, and has relations with many other states. As such, it probably is a country.

There is one group that makes the question a bit more complex: the Sovereign Order of Malta (SOM), also known as the Order of St. John.

Tracing its history to 1048, the Order was officially founded by Papal Bull in 1113 and took control of Malta in 1530. Then they lost Malta in 1798 and found themselves in Rome, where they occupied the Magistral Palace and Magistral Villa in Rome. In 2001 they came to an agreement with the Maltese government to take control of a fort in Malta.

All of this leads some to claim that they are the smallest nation in the world, with an area of at best a couple of buildings and a population generally stated as three people (although approximately 13,500 people are members and an additional 80,000 volunteer). It also has the rarest passport in the world, with only the Grand Master possessing a permanent passport, although 12 people also have temporary passports.

But it’s debated whether it truly can be considered a country. Going back to the UN argument, it has the same classification as entities like the Red Cross and the International Olympic Committee. A recent article in The Spectator argued that the order is essentially a religious order under the auspices of the more internationally recognized Holy See, and as such shouldn’t be considered a separate country.

The Spectator's argument boils down to the lack of a population, the lack of any territory to call its own (compared to the situation where the Holy See owns the Vatican), and a recent controversy surrounding the Order.

Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager was ousted by the order for his part in an alleged scheme to promote condom use in Myanmar. After the firing, von Boeselager appealed to Pope Francis, who appointed a five-member committee to investigate. After some fighting over sovereignty, the Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing (Fra’ is a title in the Order of Malta) was forced to resign and von Boeselager was reinstated.

The Spectator’s point in bringing this up is that “the Order’s claim to be independent has a dubious foundation - the Knights cannot be, for they owe ultimate allegiance to the Pope and the Vatican State. It follows therefore that it is a vassal and not a sovereign state.”

Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, so the Sovereign Order of Malta exists as an asterisk on smallest nation trivia:

In that case, the smallest country by area is Monaco and the smallest by population is Nauru, both full members of the UN and undeniably countries.

World AtlasNations Online.orgMental FlossQuaraWikipedia

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Port: Left side of the boat or ship (when facing the bow). Left side of an aircraft when facing the nose from inside. Place of arrival for ships.

Port and Starboard: A rotation of two duty sections or watch teams, one designated port, and the other starboard. Generally not considered to be a good situation. (Usually six hours on duty, six hours off duty. During the six hours off you eat and sleep. The usual cycle is: get up, eat, go on watch, get off watch, eat, go to bed. This results in about four hours of sleep per cycle.)

Port and Report: A watch stood without relief. One designated Port, and the other... there is no other, only Port once again, hence the term re-Port.)

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

Just for you MARINE

Say Again (Your Last): Request to repeat a statement, question, or order, especially over a radio, or as “I say again” to preface a repetition by the sender; the word “repeat” is not to be used in this context, as it calls for a preceding fire mission to be fired again.

Sayōnara: Japanese for “goodbye”.

Schmuckatelli: Generic, unnamed junior Marine, from the Yiddish pejorative “schmuck”.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAQ-138 - “Yellowjackets”
Expeditionary Naval Aviation Squadron Whidbey Island, Washington - Established February 27, 1976

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Wild Goose Chase”

Wild Goose Chase”  Meaning: A pointless search - A hopeless quest.

Origin: This phrase is old and appears to be one of the many phrases introduced to the language by Shakespeare. The first recorded citation is from Romeo and Juliet, 1592:

Romeo: Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a match.

Mercutio: Nay, if thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five.

Our current use of the phrase alludes to an undertaking which will probably prove to be fruitless - and it's hard to imagine anything more doomed to failure than an attempt to catch a wild goose by chasing after it. Our understanding of the term differs from that in use in Shakespeare's day. The earlier meaning related not to hunting but to horse racing. A 'wild goose chase' was a race in which horses followed a lead horse at a set distance, mimicking wild geese flying in formation.

That meaning had been lost by the 19th century. In Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811, he defines the term much the way we do today:

“A tedious uncertain pursuit, like the following a flock of wild geese, who are remarkably shy.”

The 1978 film 'The Wild Geese' alluded to the phrase in its title. This refers back to Irish mercenaries who 'flew' from Ireland to serve in various European armies in the 16th to 18th centuries. The plot of the film involved a group of mercenaries embarking on a near-impossible mission. Of course, the near-impossible is no problem for action heroes and they caught their prey.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Watch a Jet 'Race' a High-Speed Train - Though it's not quite fairHow Deep Can You Dig a Hole? How to Photograph a Total Solar EclipseHow the Real Battle of Dunkirk Showed Us the Future of WarThis Linux Computer Is as Powerful as It Is TinyHow to Choose the Best Wi-Fi Router For Your HomeWatch China Implode a 27-Story Building—That Was Never Used—in Mere SecondsRobots Finally Have a Good Way to Communicate Underwater - NATO designed a communications standard for signals traveling underwater.

Popular Mechanics

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Some of Earth's 1st Big Animals Were Shape-Shifters

Some of Earth's 1st Big Animals Were Shape-Shifters

The bizarre creatures looked more like fern fronds than anything recognizable as an animal. They appeared in the oceans suddenly more than 571 million years ago - about a billion years after the first single-celled eukaryotes (organisms with membrane-bound nuclei) emerged, but 30 million years before a huge diversification of life on Earth, called the Cambrian explosion, occurred. Why these large animals evolved suddenly at that particular time has been a mystery, Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill and Simon Morris of the University of Cambridge said today (July 10) in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Now, new measurements of these frondy fossils suggest that these animals, called rangeomorphs, were able to adjust their body size in response to changing ocean conditions. This shape-shifting ability may have enabled them to grow very large, very quickly. [Gallery: Weird Images of Ediacaran Creatures]

Fractal organisms

Rangeomorphs lived during the Ediacaran, which spanned between 635 million and 541 million years ago. They probably filtered nutrients from the water using their leaf-like branches, which were arranged in a symmetrical, fractal pattern. They went extinct around 541 million years ago, at the beginning of the Cambrian, and nothing very much like them survives today. No one really knows for sure how they completed basic life tasks, like eating or reproducing, though they may have done the latter by budding off their frilly fronds into new organisms, research has shown.

Responding to the ecosystem

The researchers aren't sure which specific nutrients the rangeomorphs may have been responding to, but organic carbon and oxygen levels are strong possibilities, they wrote. The findings are some of the first hints of an idea called “ecophenotypic” plasticity - the ability to change shape and size in response to the ecosystem - in the fossil record, the researchers said.

“During the Ediacaran, there seem to have been major changes in the Earth's oceans, which may have triggered growth, so that life on Earth suddenly starts getting much bigger”, Hoyal Cuthill stated.

Other nonmicroscopic life in the Ediacaran included tapeworm-like creatures that burrowed in ocean sediments, and a cup-shaped creature with fronds that also lived on the seafloor - the first animal known to have muscles.

Live Science (07/10/2017) video

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


“Edge of Seventeen” - Stevie Nicks 1985

“Edge of Seventeen” - Stevie Nicks
Album: Bella Donna
Released 1981 video

Stevie Nicks wrote this song about the death of her uncle and the death of John Lennon. The line about the “Words from a poet and a voice from a choir” refers to Lennon.

Speaking about the song in commentary for her Live In Concert video recorded on her Bella Donna tour, she explained:

“I was in Australia when John Lennon was shhe '70s, and heard all the loving stories that Jimmy told about him. When I came back to Phoenix I started to write this song.

Right when I got to Phoenix, my uncle Bill got cancer, got very sick very fast, and died in a couple of weeks. My cousin John Nicks and I were in the room when he died. There was just John and I there. That was part of the song when I went running down the hallways looking for somebody - I thought where's my mom? Where's his wife and the rest of the family? At that point I went back to the piano and finished the song."”

Speaking further in her video commentary, Nicks spoke about the “white-winged dove” and what this song means to her: “It became a song about violent death, which was very scary to me because at that point no one in my family had died. To me, the white-winged dove was for John Lennon the dove of peace, and for my uncle it was the white-winged dove who lives in the saguaro cactus - that's how I found out about the white-winged dove, and it does make a sound like whooo, whooo, whooo. I read that somewhere in Phoenix and thought I would use that in this song. The dove became exciting and sad and tragic and incredibly dramatic. Every time I sing this song I have that ability to go back to that two-month period where it all came down. I've never changed it, and I can't imagine ending my show with any other song. It's such a strong, private moment that I share in this song.”

Stevie came up with the title when she asked Tom Petty's wife Jane when the couple met. Jane said, “At the age of seventeen”, but she had a very strong southern accent and Stevie thought she said “the edge of seventeen”, which makes a great song title. Telling the story in a 1981 interview with Los Angeles disc jockey Robert W. Morgan, Nicks said she told Jane: “It's got to be 'edge.' 'The Edge of Seventeen' is perfect. I'm going to write a song.”

At first, the song was going to be about Tom and Jane, but it became something completely different.

Bella Donna was Stevie's first solo album. This was the third single; the first two were duets: “Stop Draggin' My Heart Aroundvideo with Tom Petty and “Leather And Lace” with Don Henley. The album proved that Nicks had enormous appeal outside of Fleetwood Mac, and this song in particular gave her tremendous confidence, as it's a very personal track that resonated with listeners and went over very well live.

When Nicks toured for Bella Donna, it was just a 12-date trek, as she had to return to Fleetwood Mac to start work on the Mirage album. The tour imbued her with the strength she needed to carry on in the group, where there was lots of lingering tension, notably between her and Lindsey Buckingham.

When Nicks played this as the last song at the last stop on her Bella Donna tour at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, California, she walked across that stage and collected various gifts audience members brought for her as she finished the song. This became a tradition, with Nicks ending up with a mountain of flowers and stuffed animals at the end of her solo shows which she always donates to local children's hospitals. Performing with Fleetwood Mac, she can't do this as there are five stars in the band.

Nicks' performance from her Live In Concert video, which aired on HBO, serves as the music video for this song. It was directed by Marty Callner, who also did the clips for “I Can't Waitvideo and “Rooms On Firevideo.

The Bella Donna album was produced by Jimmy Iovine, who was dating Nicks at the time. According to Nicks, he didn't think the album had a hit, which is why he had her record “Stop Draggin' My Heart Aroundvideo with Petty. Released as the lead single from the album, it reached #3 in the U.S. and helped "“Edge Of Seventeen” earn airplay when it was issued as a single a few months later.

Stevie Nicks, official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Bella Donna (album)” by Stevie Nicks



More than 80% of the world's bananas are grown on the continent of South America; Growers get about 12% of the revenue.

The oldest chemical elements - those known and used by humans for at least 2000 years are the metals: Gold, Silver, Iron, Lead, Copper, Tin, Zinc, Mercury...

● SCURVY is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, is characterized by bleeding gums and extreme weakness.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

The Cynical Philosopher

• If you think nobody cares whether you're alive, try missing a couple of payments.

• I always wondered what the job application is like at Hooters. Do they just give you a bra and say, “Here, fill this out?”

• I can’t understand why women are okay that JC Penny has an older women’s clothing line named, “Sag Harbor”.

• You're not fat, you're just... easier to see.

Quotable Quotables

“Mad Men” Season 4 (2007 - 2015)

Roger: “She died like she lived. Surrounded by the people she answered phones for.”

Roger: “Get out of here, all of you. Go chase a hearse.”

Sally: (On Betty, her mother) “She doesn’t care what the truth is. As long as I do what she says.”

Sally: (On death)

“It doesn’t really bother me except for it’s forever. When I think about forever, I get upset.”

“Like the Land O’Lakes butter has that Indian girl, sitting, holding a box. And it has a picture of her on it, holding a box. With a picture of her on it, holding a box. Have you ever noticed that?”

Glen: “I wish you wouldn’t have said that.”

Roger: “Well, I’ve got to learn a lot of peoples’ names before I fire them.”

Burt Cooper: (On Don) “We’ve created a monster.”

Don: “They say as soon you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem.”

Roger: “I told him to be himself. That was pretty mean I guess.”

Faye: (To Don) “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.”

Don: “Miss Calvet and I are getting married.”

Roger: “Who the hell’s that?”

~ “Mad Men” - “Mad Men Season 4” (2007 – 2015) video Creator: Matthew Weiner - A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper. AMC