Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 06, 2015

Previous Week   February 2, 2015 - February 8, 2015   Next Week

Paris Peace Accords signed on January 27, 1973

Woodrow Wilson dies on February 3, 1924

Woodrow Wilson dies: Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, dies in Washington, D.C., at the age of 67.

In 1912, Governor Wilson of New Jersey was elected president in a landslide Democratic victory over Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt. The focal point of President Wilson's first term in office was the outbreak of World War I and his efforts to find a peaceful end to the conflict while maintaining U.S. neutrality. In 1916, he was narrowly reelected president at the end of a close race against Charles Evans Hughes, his Republican challenger.

In 1917, the renewal of German submarine warfare against neutral American ships, and the “Zimmerman Note”, which revealed a secret alliance proposal by Germany to Mexico, forced Wilson to push for America's entry into the war.

At the war's end, President Wilson traveled to France, where he headed the American delegation to the peace conference seeking an official end to the conflict. At Versailles, Wilson was the only Allied leader who foresaw the future difficulty that might arise from forcing punitive peace terms on an economically ruined Germany. He also successfully advocated the creation of the League of Nations as a means of maintaining peace in the postwar world. In November 1920, President Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at Versailles.

In the autumn of 1919, while campaigning in the United States to win approval for the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations, Wilson suffered a severe stroke that paralyzed his left side and caused significant brain damage. This illness likely contributed to Wilson's uncharacteristic failure to reach a compromise with the American opponents to the European agreements, and in November the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles or the League of Nations.

During his last year in office, there is evidence that Wilson's second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, may have served as acting president for the debilitated and bed-ridden president who often communicated through her. In March 1921, Wilson's term expired, and he retired with his wife to Washington, D.C., where he lived until his death on February 3, 1924. Two days later, he was buried in Washington's National Cathedral, the first president to be laid to rest in the nation's capital.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Woodrow Wilson Library / World War I Museum / Holocaust Encyclopedia (Chateau Versailles, France) / Office of the Historian

Image: Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924), Woodrow Wilson Political Cartoons

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - free mail

(DOD) Free mail:

Correspondence of a personal nature that weighs less than 11 ounces, to include audio and video recording tapes, from a member of the Armed Forces or designated civilian, mailed postage free from a Secretary of Defense approved free mail zone. Wikipedia / Joint Point 1-0)

Ladderwells and Passageways

The Old Salt’s Corner

Ladderwells and Passageways

Generally rank has its privilege going up and down ladders, with juniors yielding to seniors. The same goes for narrow passageways. Make way for seniors. Remember you are in a three dimensional environment. Be observant and look up and down before using a ladderwell to see who might be in the way. Be sure to offer proper military courtesy to seniors.

Tape pasted down the middle of a passageway or hatchway indicates the deck is being cleaned and waxed. Work is done on one half at a time to keep the passageway open. Stay to the side that is not being worked on.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

What do they call a French kiss in France?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy.”

~ Robert Anthony

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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)

Deputy supervises Okeechobee father spanking daughter

Deputy supervises Okeechobee father spanking daughter:

OKEECHOBEE, Florida - Undersheriff Noel Stephen of Okeechobee County, Fla., acknowledged to WPBF-TV in December that among the public services his office performs is supervising parents’ spanking of children.

After two sisters argued on December 29th, their father decided to administer a whipping to one and asked Deputy Stephen to drop by and make sure he stayed within the law

That’s “not something we advertise to do”, said the deputy, but he estimates he has monitored about a dozen spankings. WPBF (West Palm Beach, Florida)

Why are there 5,280 feet to a mile?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why are there 5,280 feet to a mile?

The measurement known as a mile is a vestige of the Roman Empire's rule over Britain. At this time, the Romans had a measurement known as mille pasuum (ME-lay PA-soo-em), or a thousand paces. A pace comprised five, possibly sandal shod, Roman feet. Using a simple mathematical calculation, we arrive at 5,000 feet per mile.

The demise of the Roman Empire left the Britons in a quandary. They now had a mile, consisting of 5,000 feet, and their own agricultural measurement, the furlong, used to measure the farmers' fields for the purpose of property deeds, etc. Instead of using the Roman foot in calculating the measure of a furlong, they used the distance a horse could pull a plow, in a linear fashion, before the nag needed a nap. They agreed that this measurement consisted 660 feet.

Now came the dilemma. The British wished to marry the furlong to the mile, but, as they wanted a mile to comprise eight furlongs, totaling 5,280 feet, instead of the Roman 5,000 feet per mile, they had no choice but to select one of the two. Not surprisingly, they chose their measurement over the Roman measurement because, as property deeds at the time were measured in furlongs, or 660 feet, a change to the Roman measurement would short the farmer or landowner.

Research:  WikipediaBritannicaBBCUniversity Tulsa.edu (personal)Ancient History Encyclopedia.eu

Image: Ancient Roman units of measurement

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Start from scratch”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

“Throw down the gauntlet”

Start from scratch:

This phrase comes from the days when a line was scratched in the ground for a race. The racers would start from the scratch.

As well as the common meaning of the word “scratch”, that is, “a slight tearing or incision of the skin”, there is another meaning which is used in a string of phrases that include the word. These expressions include “come up to scratch”, “scratch golfer”, “toe the scratch” (a variant of toe the line), “make from scratch” and “start from scratch”. What all of these have in common is the notion of “scratch” being the beginning - a point at which there is no advantage or disadvantage. This meaning originated in the sporting world, where “scratch” has been used since the 18th century to describe a starting line that was scratched on the ground. Phrases.org UK / Daily Writing Tips

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Below Decks: The watch responsible for monitoring the forward spaces of a submarine while in port.

Dipper: An anti-submarine helo with a variable depth dipping SONAR. See “Dome”.

Phantom Shitter: Usually at least one per ship, a term used to describe the individual that would mysteriously defecate in the angle irons, on the X.O.'s pillow, showers, and lounges.

Smoking Lamp: Is out or lit in specified spaces or throughout the ship; 1MC announcement specifying where smoking is permitted or prohibited during certain hours or operations.

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

Just for you MARINE

Cruise: See Deployment.

Crumb Catcher: The mouth.

Cumshaw: A present or gratuity, often a piece of needed equipment that appears when needed (while at the same time a similar item disappears from another unit). A cumshaw artist is generally prized within a unit for his or her ability to provide-and few questions are asked. From the old Chinese term “kam sia” meaning grateful thanks. The term was used at the start of World War II to describe payoffs by Honolulu's Hotel Street prostitutes to local police officials.

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

URL - Unrestricted Line Officer

Officer of the line in the U.S. Navy who is qualified to command ships, subs and aviation units and can rise to high Navy leadership positions such as CNO.

USN - United States Navy

The sea branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

USNA - United States Naval Academy

The undergraduate college in Annapolis, Maryland, that educates and commissions Navy Officers and Marine Corps Officers.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VT-10 - Training Squadron 10: “Wildcats”
NAS Pensacola, Florida

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Baby Eating Statue of Bern

Baby-Eating Statue Is a Historical Mystery

Completed in 1546, the “Kindlifresserbrunnen” is a fountain in Bern, Switzerland. Translated, the name means “Fountain of the Eater of Little Children”. For nearly 500 years the fountain has been a reminder for the children of Bern to behave, in particular around Switzerland’s Fastnacht, or ”Night of Fasting” festival, during the week after ash Wednesday. One is his mouth, one tied to his belt, and more to be consumed in a bag by his side.

Of course, there are other theories – The Baby Eating Statue could be a caricature of the jealous older brother of Duke Berchtold, who founded Bern in 1211. Perhaps he represented the Titan Kronos, (also the father of Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, and Hera) who ate his other children so they could never take his throne. Zeus, obviously won his battle with his father as evidenced in films like Wrath of the Titans.

Theory number four was that he represented the Jews, who also wore pointy hats at that time. This is the least unlikely scenario, as it neither served well as a ‘keep away’ sign for the Jewish people, nor in any way clearly a reference to “blood libel” – a ridiculous accusation that people of the Jewish faith of eating Christian babies and using the blood of other Christians to make matzo. Slate


“Welcome To The Jungle” - Guns N' Roses 1987

“Welcome To The Jungle” - Guns N' Roses
Album: Appetite For Destruction
Released 1987 video

This song is about Los Angeles. It exposes the dark side of the city many people encounter when they go there to pursue fame. Guns N' Roses knew this side of the city well: in 1985, they lived in a place on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that they called “Hell House”. The house was often filled with drugs, alcohol and groupies.

Axl Rose wrote the lyrics when he was in Seattle, which gave him some perspective on the size of Los Angeles.

Slash (from the notes to Guns N' Roses: The Hits): “I was at my house and I had that riff happening and Axl came over and he got those lyrics together, and then the band sort of arranged it. We got an arrangement for the whole band, 'cause that's how we work. Someone comes in with an idea and someone else has input and in that way everyone's happy. That came together really quickly too, that was arranged in one day.”

In 2007 Rolling Stone magazine ran a feature on the 20th anniversary of Appetite For Destruction. They explained that a famous lyrics from this song originated when Axl Rose spent a night in a Queens schoolyard before joining the band. Said Rose: “This black guy said, 'You're in the jungle! You gonna die.'”

When this was released as a single in 1987, it charted in England but flopped in America. It finally became a hit in the US when they re-released it in October 1988 after "Sweet Child O' Mine" hit #1.

This was used in the 1988 Clint Eastwood movie “The Dead Pool” - the band made a cameo in the film. It also appears in “Lean On Me, The Program and Selena”.

This was the first track on Appetite For Destruction, which caused controversy due to it's cover, a drawing of a robot apparently raping a woman.

Slash re-recorded his guitar parts as he was dissatisfied with his first attempts. To produce the vicious yet pure tone, the Guns 'N' Roses gunslinger used a Les Paul '59 replica plugged into a Marshall JCM aided most probably by some Jack Daniels.

The video was shot at Park Plaza and 450 South La Brea in Hollywood. The band's first video, it was very successful, winning at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards for Best New Artist Video. Guns N' Roses performed the song on the show.

When Axl says “My Serpentine”, he's describing his famous dance, which he copied from Richard Black, lead singer of the band Shark Island.

This song caused further tension between Axl Rose and Slash in 2001 when Slash wanted to let the producers of Black Hawk Down use it in their movie, but Axl refused unless he could re-record it with the new members of Guns N' Roses (the old members would have lost out on royalties). After Axl formed a new version of the band in 2001, things got testy between him and the previous members, and Axl has blocked use of their songs in movies.

A line from this song became a bit of a catch phrase for Axl Rose, who began screaming at crowds when performing it at shows, “Do you know where the f--k you are!?” Axl said it in 2006 when he introduced The Killers at the MTV Video Music Awards

Guns N' Roses opened for Aerosmith in the summer of 1988, culminating in a show on September 15 at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California. At this final show, Aerosmith's road crew had some fun by dressing up in gorilla costumes and messing around on stage when G N' R performed this song. It was all in good fun, as the bands got along great, with Axl expressing his admiration for Aerosmith at every show. When Aerosmith took the stage that night, they had Guns N' Roses join them for an extended jam of “Mama Kin”, a song Guns often covered.

By the end of the tour, Guns N' Roses was the hotter band - “Sweet Child O' Mine” video hit #1 the week the tour ended.

Slash's gear for the entire Appetite For Destruction album was a Kris Derrig-built 1959 Les Paul replica guitar, and a rented S.I.R. (known to S.I.R. as Stock #36) Marshall 1959 Superlead Metal Panel modded by Frank Levi and Glenn Buckley (based on Tim Caswell's modification to Stock #39).

Rolling Stone magazine (Appetite For Destruction - 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - 473) / Guns N' Roses.com / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N' Roses



● The Australian slang term “zot” means to knock out or kill quickly, as in “Zot that fly”.

● During the bubonic plague of London, the city was sealed off to avoid contamination. This meant no food was permitted in. The only people willing to trade with London were the Dutch, who left food on jetties and then would take the money left there. They used to steel their nerves with liquor before landing on the plague-infested shores, hence “Dutch courage”. To this day, the Dutch still have the freedom of the river Thames, which was granted as a reward for their courage and kindness.

● In 1889, the first coin-operated telephone, patented by Hartford, Connecticut inventor William Gray, was installed in the Hartford Bank. Soon, “pay phones” were installed in stores, hotels, saloons, and restaurants, and their use soared. Local calls using a coin-operated phone in the U.S. cost only 5 cents everywhere until 1951.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

What actress was the first to receive a $1 million contract in the film industry?

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their AnswerWikipedia

Answer to Last Week's Test

What law enforcement tool was inspired by and named for Tom Swift, the boy inventor whose adventures are recounted in a series of early 20th-Century young adult novels?

Answer: The Taser, the electric stun gun. It was invented in 1974 by aerospace engineer Jack Cover, who named it Taser, an acronym for Tom A. Swift’s Electric Rifle, in honor of one of his favorite childhood books, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. In the book, the boy inventor built a rifle that shoots bolts of electricity. Cover gave Swift an “A” as a middle initial to make the Taser acronym work.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door. “Brenda, may I come in?” he asks. “I've somethin' to tell ya.”

“Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?”

“That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery...”

“Oh, God no!” cries Brenda. “Please don't tell me....”

“I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry.” Finally, she looked up at Tim.

“How did it happen, Tim?”

“It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned.”

“Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?”

“Well, no Brenda... no. Fact is, he got out three times to pee.”