Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 20, 2015

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Berlin blockade lifted on May 12, 1949

Berlin blockade lifted May 12, 1949

Berlin blockade lifted: On May 12, 1949, an early crisis of the Cold War comes to an end when the Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin. The blockade had been broken by a massive U.S.-British airlift of vital supplies to West Berlin’s two million citizens.

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors administered by the four major Allied powers: the USSR, the United States, Britain, and France. Berlin, the German capital, was likewise divided into four sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet sector of eastern Germany. The future of Germany and Berlin was a major sticking point in postwar treaty talks, especially after the United States, Britain, and France sought to unite their occupation zones into a single economic zone. In March 1948, the Soviet Union quit the Allied Control Council governing occupied Germany over this issue. In May, the three Western powers agreed to the imminent formation of West Germany, a nation that would exist entirely independent of Soviet-occupied eastern Germany. The three western sectors of Berlin were united as West Berlin, which was to be under the administration of West Germany.

On June 20, as a major step toward the establishment of a West German government, the Western powers introduced a new Deutsche mark currency in West Germany and West Berlin. The Soviets condemned this move as an attack on the East German currency and on June 24 began a blockade of all rail, road, and water communications between Berlin and the West. The four-power administration of Berlin had ceased with the unification of West Berlin, the Soviets said, and the Western powers no longer had a right to be there. With West Berlin’s food, fuel, and other necessities cut off, the Soviets reasoned, it would soon have to submit to Communist control.

Britain and the United States responded by initiating the largest airlift in history, flying 278,288 relief missions to the city during the next 14 months, resulting in the delivery of 2,326,406 tons of supplies. As the Soviets had cut off power to West Berlin, coal accounted for over two-thirds of the material delivered. In the opposite direction, return flights transported West Berlin’s industrial exports to the West. Flights were made around the clock, and at the height of the Berlin airlift, in April 1949, planes were landing in the city every minute. Tensions were high during the airlift, and three groups of U.S. strategic bombers were sent as reinforcements to Britain while the Soviet army presence in eastern Germany increased dramatically. The Soviets made no major effort to disrupt the airlift. As a countermeasure against the Soviet blockade, the Western powers also launched a trade embargo against Eastern Germany and other Soviet bloc countries.

On May 12, 1949, the Soviets abandoned the blockade, and the first British and American convoys drove though 110 miles of Soviet Germany to reach West Berlin. On May 23, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was formally established. On October 7, the German Democratic Republic, a Communist state, was proclaimed in East Germany. The Berlin airlift continued until September 30, in an effort to build up a year’s supply of essential goods for West Berlin in the event of another Soviet blockade. Another blockade did not occur, but Cold War tensions over Berlin remained high, culminating in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

With the gradual waning of Soviet power in the late 1980s, the Communist Party in East Germany began to lose its grip on power. Tens of thousands of East Germans began to flee the nation, and by late 1989 the Berlin Wall started to come down. Shortly thereafter, talks between East and West German officials, joined by officials from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the USSR, began to explore the possibility of reunification, which was achieved on October 3, 1990. Two months following reunification, all-German elections took place and Helmut Kohl became the first chancellor of the reunified Germany. Although this action came more than a year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for many observers the reunification of Germany effectively marked the end of the Cold War.

History Channel / Cold War Museum / PBS / Truman Library / Encyclopaedia Britannica / Wikipedia

Wikipedia  Photo: Berlin Blockade, Berliners watching a C-54 land at Tempelhof Airport (1948).

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Honey Pot

(DOD) A trap set to detect, deflect, or in some manner counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems. Generally it consists of a computer, data, or a network site that appears to be part of a network, but is actually isolated, (un)protected, and monitored, and which ms to contain iseenformation or a resource of value to attackers. Information Operations (Joint Publication 3-13.4)

U.S. Navy photo by PH2 (NAC) David C. Mercil

The Old Salt’s Corner

Role of the Composite Warfare Commander (CWC)

In deciding the assignment and location of warfare commanders and coordinators the CWC should take into account the tactical situation, size of force and the capabilities of the available assets to cope with the expected threat. Such analysis may lead the CWC to decide to retain direct control of one or more of the warfare areas. When appropriate, a designated commander may be assigned alternate and supporting functions in addition to his primary responsibility.

1. Location of CWC

The battlegroup commander requires a clean tactical picture to control his forces effectively. To maintain such a picture the CWC must be located where he (a) has ready access to his principal assets; (b) is minimally handicapped by any emission controls (EMCON) or communications limitations; and (c) has optimum facilities for receipt, processing, and display of information concerning unit readiness and the tactical situation.

Within the battlegroup, the CWC can best control combat operations from the carrier. Tightly structured rules of engagement (ROE) may require the CWC to maintain more direct control of assets.

Methodologically speaking, the CWC doctrine provides a structure around which tactics can be executed. However, CWC is not a "tactic" unto itself. Individual mission parameters must dictate how much or how little the doctrine is employed.

2. CWC Limitations

As with any command theory or doctrine, the CWC concept has its limitations. For example, the CWC doctrine is designed for macro battlegroup or task force level operations. Smaller task units or elements may allow a separate Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) to fulfill all sea control functions himself. The CWC doctrine also developed during the Cold War for potential multi-threat combat operations against the former Soviet Union. Contingency operations encompassing lesser threats or politically selective operations involving tightly structured ROEs may require the CWC to maintain even more direct control of assets. Conceptually, the CWC doctrine provides a framework around which tactics are executed. In all cases however, the assigned mission must dictate how much or how little the doctrine is employed. Another limitation is the multiple tasking of battlegroup platforms without clear definition of priorities.

Most importantly, the CWC and his individual warfare commanders must understand their responsibilities and how they may change in different tactical situations or as a limited engagement transitions to hot war.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

How do they get a deer to cross at that yellow road sign?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance.”

~ Thomas Huxley

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

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)

Italy opens Museo Della Merda - the museum of poop

Italy opens Museo Della Merda - the museum of poop

MILAN, Italy, April 28 (UPI) - The latest museum to dump knowledge on Italy is the Museo Della Merda, a facility dedicated to the study of human and animal feces.

The Museo Della Merda, which roughly translates to “Museum of Poop”, although the intended wording is somewhat more profane, describes itself as an “agency for change” that “houses documents and information on excrement in culture, technology and history.”

The poo-seum aims to show “what a useful and living substance crap really is”. Headquartered in the Piacenza province hamlet of Castelbosco, it held a launch event Monday at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan.

The exhibit tracks the history of excrement and seeks to educate visitors on the ways poo is put to good use around the world.

“Few phenomena are so rich in material and conceptual complexity as the cultural history of [excrement]”, the museum said.

The museum was founded by Gianantonio Locatelli, a Castelbosco farmer who wanted to put the 220,000 pounds of excrement created by his animals each day to good use.

Museum tours can be arranged for Saturdays and Sundays between May and August. UPI (United Press International 4-28-2015) video

Why does the legend Willie Nelson keep playing an old beat up guitar with a big hole in it?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why does the legend Willie Nelson keep playing an old beat up guitar with a big hole in it?

Willie Nelson’s Guitar, Trigger

In 1969, Nelson played a Baldwin acoustic. He laid it on the floor of the stage while playing a gig one night, and, in his words, “a drunk stepped on it”. He sent the battered remains to music legend and guitar designer Shot Jackson to see if he could repair it, but the guitar was beyond saving. At least, most of it was. Jackson mentioned that he could probably save the Baldwin’s pickup, which Nelson favored because it gave him a much bigger sound onstage. Nelson needed something to play, so Jackson offered him a Martin classical guitar that he happened to have hanging out in the shop. For the low price of $750, Nelson agreed—and the most famous artist-guitar duo in the history of music (arguably) was united.

Because classical guitars are meant to be fingerpicked, not strummed, they don’t typically come with pickguards, the piece of plastic that protects the wood of the body from the constant wear and tear of playing. Nelson’s Martin was no exception—and that’s why a large hole has formed in the guitar over the decades. But the hole doesn’t bother Willie. In fact, he thinks it improves the sound, and Martin guitar designer Dick Boak agrees: “As you scratch away at the top, the diminished thickness of the membrane will most likely make the guitar sound better.”

Nelson is so attached to the guitar that he eventually gave it a name: Trigger, after Roy Rogers’ horse. During his infamous tax problems in the 1990s, Nelson had Trigger hidden away with his daughter to make sure that his most valuable asset wouldn’t be seized along with the rest of his property. Obviously, the guitar survived the raid—but if Trigger finally reports to that big tour bus in the sky, don’t be surprised if Willie retires. He has long said that he’ll quit playing when his guitar does, though he doesn’t believe that will happen, saying, “probably Trigger will outlast me.”

Texas MonthlyStillis Still MovingRolling StoneWillie Nelson General StoreEXCLUSIVE Daily Mail

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Lily-livered”

Where Did That Saying Come From?


Lily-livered:” Means cowardly. People once believed that your passions came from you liver. If you were lily livered your liver was white (because it did not contain any blood). So you were a coward. Phrases.org UK / Urban Dictionary

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Brown Water: Shallow water close to land. Also called the littorals. Smaller ships can operate in these waters.

The Goo: Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). When an aviator flies an aircraft into the clouds, can no longer see the earth or the horizon, and is dependent on instruments for navigation, he is said to be "in the goo." This is usually done intentionally when flying with an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan, but can lead to high "pucker factor" when it is done accidentally.

Mr. Vice: JO or Chief Petty Officer who is the Master of Ceremonies at a Dining-in/Dining-out.

Shutterbug: A Photographer's Mate (PH).

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

Just for you MARINE

Double Easy-8: Term used for the field telephone used in World War II and Korea. Actually the official term was Telephone, Field, EE-8. After telling a young Marine to go get a “Double Easy-8” a few times, it was inevitable that sooner or later he would be sent to find a “TR- Double-E”. After a time he would be laughed at for searching for a “tree”.

Double Time: A marching pace which is double “quick time” in which the arms are bent at the elbow and the troops run in step.

DOW: Died of Wounds. Someone who died of combat inflicted injuries after being treated at an aid station or higher echelon medical unit. One who dies prior to that point are designated KIA.

Dragon Master: A Marine with the MOS of 3533 Logistics Vehicle System Operator.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAQ-137 - Electronic Attack Squadron 137: “Rooks”
NAS Whidbey Island, Washington

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Ten People Whose Hearts Were Buried Separately From the Rest of Them

Ten People Whose Hearts Were Buried Separately From the Rest of Them

Robert the Bruce, King of Scots 1306-1329, asked for his heart to be buried in Jerusalem. But it didn't get all the way there - the knight he entrusted it to, Sir James Douglas, was killed in battle with the Moors while wearing the heart in a silver case around his neck. Other knights recovered the heart from the battlefield, and brought it back to Melrose Abbey in Scotland for burial. Archeologists rediscovered what they believed to be the heart in 1920 and reburied it in a modern container; it was exhumed again in 1996, and reburied beneath the abbey’s lawn in 1998. Mental Floss


“I Love Rock And Roll” - Joan Jett 1981

“I Love Rock And Roll” - Joan Jett The Blackhearts
Album: I Love Rock And Roll
Released 1981 video

This was originally recorded by a British group called The Arrows in 1975, and it was written by their lead singer Alan Merrill and guitarist Jake Hooker. Merrill explained in a Songfacts interview how this song came about: “That was a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones' 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll' video.' I remember watching it on Top of the Pops. I'd met Mick Jagger socially a few times, and I knew he was hanging around with Prince Rupert Lowenstein and people like that – jet setters. I almost felt like 'It's Only Rock and Roll' was an apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was hanging around with - the aristocracy, you know. That was my interpretation as a young man: Okay, I love rock and roll. And then, where do you go with that?”

The song was released as a B-side with The Arrows' “Broken Down Heartvideo. The group was recording for RAK Records, which was run by Mickie Most. As Merrill explains, “I Love Rock And Roll” didn't suit his current tastes, as during that time Most prefered ballads and blues. Most's wife Christina Hayes encouraged him to flip the sides, but the song didn't catch on, as it suffered from a poor run of luck at the time of its release. First, it had to be re-released as an A-side. Second, the song came out during an English newspaper strike, so new songs weren't getting the exposure they'd normally get. Third, notorious feuds were occurring between The Arrows and their record label. As a result, the song barely scratched the top 50 charts.

All was not lost, however, as The Arrows performed this song when they were guests on the UK TV series Pop 45. The show's producer, Muriel Young, was so impressed that on the strength of this performance, she gave them their own TV show, simply called The Arrows Show, which ran from 1976 - 1977 in the UK for two full 14-week seasons on the ITV network. It was this show that Joan Jett saw in 1976, which prompted her to acquire a copy of “I Love Rock and Roll” and later cover it in 1981, producing what is arguably one of the most successful covers in Rock history.

Jett was touring England as a member of an all teenage girl group called The Runaways when she discovered this song. She wanted to record it with The Runaways, but the other members didn't like the song and made the mistake of passing it up. So, in 1979, Jett recorded it with Paul Cook and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and released it as a B-side. Finally, in 1981, Jett recorded the song with her band The Blackhearts, resulting in a monster hit.

Jett recalled to Uncut August 2010 her version with the Pistols duo: “I did a very early version with them, it was great working with them, and no, there was no sense of trepidation on my part, despite the fact that everyone was telling me they were the most notorious band on the planet.”

Alan Merrill: “I had the chorus, which to me sounded like a hit. And I thought, I'll do something really unusual. I'll write it that this is a song separate from the verse. So the actual chorus is something that's coming out of a jukebox, and the two kids in the disco who are flirting are hearing this song that's a hit. It felt like The Twilight Zone. I was so sure 'I Love Rock and Roll' was gonna be a hit for the Arrows that I thought, Well, when we have a hit with it, it's gonna be a hit within a hit. A fictional hit coming out of the chorus with the kids singing it as their favorite song in the verse of the song. So when it actually became a huge hit for Joan Jett, my Twilight Zone concept came true. And I don't think too many people get that about the song, you know? They just like the melody, and it's catchy. But it was actually a pretty clever stroke, one that I'm proud of.”

When The Runaways broke up, Joan Jett and her producer Kenny Laguna put her first solo album together with studio time and travel arrangements fronted by The Who. They struggled to get a record deal and had to form their own label, Blackheart Records, to release the album in America. Jett and Laguna both thought “I Love Rock And Roll” was a great song, but since they didn't have the backing of a major label, they held off on it until they could establish themselves and get better distribution. When “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and “Bad Reputation” started getting airplay, they got a deal with Boardwalk Records. That first album, which was called Joan Jett, was remixed and renamed Bad Reputation. Now that she had a record deal, Jett released “I Love Rock And Roll”, which was her first single on a major label and was included on her second album.

The Runaways' bass player Michael Steele went on to join The Bangles, and their guitarist Lita Ford had a successful solo career, but Joan Jett emerged as their most famous alumna. Kenny Laguna plays a big part in her story, as he helped Jett get started as a solo artist and has worked with her ever since. In 1972, after working with acts like Tommy James & the Shondells and Tony Orlando, Kenny was looking for work and found it through Peter Meaden, who managed The Who when they were still known as The High Numbers. Meaden got Kenny a job working at Mobile Records in England, where he became friends with The Who and met The Runaways' manager, who asked him to produce what would be their last album. Kenny didn't work on that album, but when The Runaways broke up, he started working with Jett. Peter Meaden, who introduced Kenny to The Who and helped revive his career, was the manager of The Arrows, the group that wrote and originally recorded “I love Rock And Roll.” If Kenny had accepted the job and produced The Runaways' last album, there is a good chance he would have made them record it, since he thought it was a hit.

Jett's 1979 version of the song was owned by The Polygram company, who were not enthusiastic about Joan or the song. Laguna explains: “They could care less about Joan Jett, they were busy signing every other Runaway. They thought Joan was the loser and they signed the other girls, who we're all friends with, but I looked at the band and thought she was the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the band. The company decided that if I would pay the studio cost of $2,300, I could have all the rights, and I got 3 songs. I got 'I Love Rock And Roll' with The Sex Pistols, I got 'You Don't Own Me' - they did a great version of the Lesley Gore hit, and they did a song Joan wrote called 'Don't Abuse Me' video. So I buy these songs back. In the meantime, Joan has a couple of fans. Rodney Bingenheimer of K-ROCK, KMAC in Long Beach, BCN in Boston, LIR in Long Island, they were playing The Sex Pistols' kind of cruddy version of the song, and it was #1 on the alternative stations. It was really alternative music, they were way-out stations that would play some pretty adventurous stuff, that's why they would play Joan, because Joan was not getting a record deal, Joan was way on the outside, like a Fugazi of her day. We saw some kind of potential there. I remember these guys from the big record distributors in Long Island kept calling and saying, 'This is a hit record, we're getting so many requests for it.' So we cut it over and did a really good version of it.”

In the original version, the lyrics are about a guy picking up a young girl and taking her home, which was fairly typical Rock and Roll subject matter. When Jett covered this, however, it became a song about a girl who notices a guy next to a jukebox and brings him home to have sex. Other hit songs like “Physicalvideo by Olivia Newton John and “Hit Me With Your Best Shotvideo by Pat Benatar also had sexual overtones, but Jett sang about aggressively pursuing the guy, which for many women made this a female-empowerment anthem. This song helped shape Jett's image as a tough, confident rock star and became an inspiration to many female musicians.

The line “Put another dime in the jukebox” was dated by the time Jett released her version, as very few jukeboxes took dimes. “Quarter” didn't sound good in the lyrics, and as jukeboxes slowly disappeared or became computerized contraptions accepting paper currency, it didn't matter anyway.

In the U.S., this was #1 for 7 weeks in 1982.

The video was shot in color, but they didn't think it looked gritty enough so it was converted to black and white to get the desired effect. The jacket Joan wears is actually red. The people in the crowd were all fans who turned up that day.

In an interview with Mojo magazine January 2008, Jett looked back on this song: “I think most people who love some kind of rock 'n' roll can relate to it. Everyone knows a song that just makes them feel amazing and want to jump up and down. I quickly realized, this song is gonna follow you, so you're either gonna let it bother you, or you gotta make peace with it, and feel blessed that you were involved with something that touched so many people.”

Rolling Stone magazine (biography) / Joan Jett & the Blackhearts official site / Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / Biography / All Music / Billboard / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “I Love Rock 'n' Roll (album)” by Joan Jett‎‎‎



● The length of your ring finger in comparison to your index finger indicates the amount of testosterone you were exposed to as a fetus. Longer ring fingers equates to more testosterone.

● Scottish band The Bay City Rollers earned their name after sticking a pin in a map of America, which landed on the Michigan city.

● Seashell fossils have been found high in the Himalayan mountains, suggesting that the land was once underwater.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created by former Wall Street Journal co-founder Charles Dow in 1896. Dow picked 12 important companies from a variety of industries ranging from the U.S. Leather Company to the American Sugar Company. What is the only company still on the list today?

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

What was the first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of a black person?

Answer: The U.S.S. Harmon, named after Leonard Roy Harmon, a mess attendant who was killed at Guadalcanal on July 25, 1943..Defense.gov

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

One Sunday morning George burst into the living room and said, “Dad! Mom! I have some great news for you! I am getting married to the most beautiful girl in town. She lives a block away and her name is Susan.” After dinner, George's dad took him aside, “Son, I have to talk with you. Look at your mother, George. She and I have been married 30 years, she's a wonderful wife and mother, but, she has never offered much excitement in the bedroom, so I used to fool around with women a lot.”

“Susan is actually your half sister, and I'm afraid you can't marry her.” George was brokenhearted.

After eight months he eventually started dating girls again. A year later he came home and very proudly announced, “Diane said yes! We're getting married in June.” Again his father insisted on another private conversation and broke the sad news. “Diane is your half sister too, George.”

“I'm awfully sorry about this.” George was livid! He finally decided to go to his mother with the news his father had shared.

“Dad has done so much harm. I guess I'm never going to get married”, he complained. “Every time I fall in love, Dad tells me the girl is my half sister.”

“Hee hee”, his mother chuckled, shaking her head, “Don't pay any attention to what he says. He's not really your father.”