Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 40, 2015

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Nazis and communists divvy up Poland on September 29, 1939

The Tylenol murders on September 29, 1982

The Tylenol murders: On this day in 1982, a sick 12-year-old girl in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, unwittingly takes an Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule laced with cyanide poison and dies later that day. She would be one of seven people to die suddenly after taking the popular over-the-counter medication, as the so-called Tylenol murders spread fear across America. The victims, all from the Chicago area, ranged in age from 12 to 35 and included three members of the same family. Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, launched a massive recall of its product and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible.

Investigators soon determined that the tainted Tylenol capsules hadn’t been tampered with at the factories where they were produced. This meant that someone had taken the bottles from store shelves, laced them with poison and then returned them to grocery stores and pharmacies, where the victims later purchased the tampered bottles.

Johnson & Johnson reacted to the crisis swiftly and decisively, launching a massive public relations campaign urging the public not to use Tylenol. The company also ordered a national recall of 264,000 bottles of Tylenol and offered free replacement of the product in safer tablet form. At the time, it was unusual for companies to recall their products.

Before the “Tylenol Terrorist” struck, Tylenol was the nation’s leading over-the-counter drug and Johnson & Johnson’s bestselling product and some observers speculated that Tylenol would never be able to recover from the disaster. However, within months, Tylenol was back on store shelves with a new safety seal. The recall and re-launch cost Johnson & Johnson over $100 million, but in the end, Johnson & Johnson was praised for its handling of the crisis. Within a year, Tylenol’s market share rebounded and its tarnished image was significantly repaired.

The Tylenol murders, which inspired copycat crimes involving other products, were never solved, although various individuals were investigated. However, a positive outcome of the crisis was that it led drug makers to develop tamper-proof packaging, which had been largely nonexistent before the Tylenol Terrorist struck. History Channel / Wikipedia / Chicago Tribune articles / PBS articles

Nazis and communists divvy up Poland on September 29, 1939

Nazis and communists divvy up Poland on September 29, 1939

Nazis and communists divvy up Poland: On this day in 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union agree to divide control of occupied Poland roughly along the Bug River–the Germans taking everything west, the Soviets taking everything east.

As a follow-up to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, (also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact), that created a non-aggression treaty between the two behemoth military powers of Germany and the U.S.S.R., Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, met with his Soviet counterpart, V.M. Molotov, to sign the German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty. The fine print of the original non-aggression pact had promised the Soviets a slice of eastern Poland; now it was merely a matter of agreeing where to draw the lines.

Joseph Stalin, Soviet premier and dictator, personally drew the line that partitioned Poland. Originally drawn at the River Vistula, just west of Warsaw, he agreed to pull it back east of the capital and Lublin, giving Germany control of most of Poland’s most heavily populated and industrialized regions. In return, Stalin wanted Lvov, and its rich oil wells, as well as Lithuania, which sits atop East Prussia. Germany now had 22 million Poles, “slaves of the Greater German Empire”, at its disposal; Russia had a western buffer zone.

On this same day, the Soviet Union also signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with the Baltic nation of Estonia, giving Stalin the right to occupy Estonian naval and air bases. A similar treaty would later be signed with Latvia. Soviet tanks eventually rolled across these borders, in the name of “mutual assistance”, placing the Baltic States into the hands of the U.S.S.R. for decades to come. These “treaties” were once again merely the realization of more fine print from the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, giving Stalin more border states as buffer zones, and protecting Russian territory where the Bolshevik ideology had not been enthusiastically embraced from intrusion by its western neighbor, namely its non-aggression partner Germany. The highly vulnerable Baltic nations had little to say about any of these arrangements; they were merely annexed. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / National Archives.gov / USHMM.org

Image: Luftwaffe preparing to bomb Wieluń, SMS Schleswig-Holstein attacking the port of Danzig, Wehrmacht soldiers destroying the Polish-German border post, German tank and armored car formation, German and Soviet troops shaking hands following the invasion, Bombing of Warsaw.

Marseille Rade: Florent Chabaud - Olympus Camedia C-2040Z Marseilles' Roadstead, Vallon des Auffes, Frioul Islands

The Old Salt’s Corner


A roadstead is a body of water sheltered from rip currents, spring tides or ocean swell outside a harbor where ships can lie reasonably safely at anchor without dragging or snatching while waiting for their turn to enter a port of call. It can be open or natural, usually - estuary-based, or may be created artificially.

In maritime law, a “known general station for ships, notoriously used as such, and distinguished by the name”. Charts and nautical publications often use roads rather than roadsteads; 'Roads' is the earlier term.

In the days of sailing ships, some voyages could only easily be made with a change in wind directionnge of wind in a safe anchorage, such as the Downs or Yarmouth Roads. Daniel Defoe has Robinson Crusoe recall of an early journey in the coastal trade:

“The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the wind having been contrary, and the weather calm, we had made , and ships would wait for a chabut little way since the storm. Here we were obliged to come to an anchor, and here we lay, the wind continuing contrary, viz., at southwest, for seven or eight days, during which time a great many ships from Newcastle came into the same Roads...”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

If you're a kleptomaniac, is there something you can take for it?

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.”

~ 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)

Fake ultrasounds, fake bellies and “Fake a Baby.com” gets Michigan teen in non-fake trouble

Fake ultrasounds, fake bellies and “Fake a Baby.com” gets Michigan teen in non-fake trouble

A teenage girl in Wyandotte, Mich., using $9.95 tools from a website called FakeABaby.com, pretended for months to be pregnant (with abdomen extenders and ultrasound photos of her “triplets”).

She received gifts, had a baby shower, joined expectant-mother groups, and even frightened her 16-year-old boyfriend enough that he began looking for full-time work to feed the soon-due “baby”.

However (obviously), the ruse fell apart in the 10th month (in August), drawing community outrage, but according to the sheriff, none of the “victims” who were fooled has come forward to press fraud charges.

Washington Post (09/02/2015)

What’s the Difference Between Dark Matter and Dark Energy?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What’s the Difference Between Dark Matter and Dark Energy?

Dark matter and dark energy are the yin and yang of the cosmos.

Dark matter produces an attractive force (gravity), while dark energy produces a repulsive force (antigravity). Together, they make up 96 percent of the universe—and we can’t see either.

Astronomers know dark matter exists because visible matter doesn’t have enough gravitational muster to hold galaxies together. What’s it made of? There are two adorably acronymed leading candidates: super-dense astronomical bodies called massive astrophysical compact halo objects (MACHOs) and weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs).

Dark energy, on the other hand, is why our universe is expanding. In fact, in 1998, astronomers studying distant supernovae were shocked to learn that, around 7.5 billion years after the Big Bang, the universe began expanding faster. That indicates some unknown force is fighting gravity’s pull, causing galaxies to speed apart from one another.

Think of the universe as an elastic gym band and dark energy as the Incredible (and unseen) Hulk who keeps tugging at it.

NASANational GeographicMental FlossWikipedia (Dark matter) - Wikipedia (Dark energy‎)

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Jack-o’-lantern”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Jack-o’-lantern:” The term jack- o’-lantern was first applied not to pumpkins, but people. As far back as 1663, the term meant a man with a lantern, or a night watchman. Just a decade or so later, it began to be used to refer to the mysterious lights sometimes seen at night over bogs, swamps, and marshes.

These ghost lights—variously called jack-o’-lanterns, hinkypunks, hobby lanterns, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o'-the-wisps, and fool's fire—are created when gases from decomposing plant matter ignite when they come in contact with electricity or heat or as they oxidize. For centuries before there was this scientific explanation, people told stories to explain the mysterious lights. In Ireland, dating as far back as the 1500s, those stories often revolved around a guy named Jack.

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Fish: (Submarine Service) See Dolphins. Also “torpedo”.

FRED: F**kin' Retarded Enlisted Dude.

Evolution: F**k the Navy (common epithet used when complaining about naval policies or regulations). Often scrawled on the walls of toilet stalls by sailors who have been assigned to clean it for a reason. Also can refer to “Free The Nukes”, referring to sailors in the nuclear power field. Also refers to a mythical rate or ship type an “FTN Striker” says he/she is trying to get in (i.e. Fleet Tug-Nuclear, Fire Technician-Nuclear).

FTN Striker: Sailor whose stated goal/desire is get discharged.

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

Just for you MARINE

Goat Heads: Thorns indigenous to California. On field exercises they stick to everything and are a major nuisance.

Goat Locker: Navy Chief Petty Officer's quarters. From the Naval tradition that goats brought on board for milk were under the charge of the chiefs. Probably the origin of the phrase Old Goat.

Goat Rope: Similar to a Cluster F**k except that this activity comes from the Head Shed.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAQ-138 - Electronic Attack Squadron 138: “Yellowjackets”
NAS Whidbey Island, Washington

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

What are some lesser known yet fascinating pieces of history? “Professional ticklers”

What are some lesser known yet fascinating pieces of history? “Professional ticklers”

Foot tickling for sexual arousal was used in the Muscovite palaces and courts for centuries. Many of the Czarinas (Catherine the Great, Anna Ivanovna, Elizabeth and others) were fervent participants. The practice was so popular that eunuchs and women were employed as full time foot ticklers. They developed this unique skill so well that their occupations brought prestige and good pay.

Anna Leopoldovna had at least six ticklers at her feet. While the ticklers performed their task, they also told bawdy stories and sang obscene ballads. This was done to work the ladies up to an erotic pitch so that they could meet their husbands or lovers in a sex impassioned mood. RedditStonehill.edu

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


“Whole Lotta Love” - Led Zeppelin 1969

“Whole Lotta Love” - Led Zeppelin
Album: Led Zeppelin II
Released 1969 video

This was Led Zeppelin's first U.S. single, and their only U.S. Top 10 hit. Some of their most popular songs, like “Stairway To Heavenvideo, were not released as singles.

Atlantic Records pressed copies of the single to release in England, but Peter Grant, their manager, wouldn't let them. He felt releasing singles in England would hurt album sales, and the band thought that one song was not a good representation of any group. In the U.S., it was acceptable because more people bought singles.

Blues great Willie Dixon sued the band, claiming they stole this from his song “You Need Lovevideo. The band reached an agreement with Dixon, who used the settlement money to set up a program providing instruments for schools.

The freeform section was the result of Page and engineer Eddie Kramer “twiddling every knob known to man”.

This might be the first use of “backward echo”. Page put the echo of Plant's lines before he says them, creating an interesting sound.

Robert Plant did the vocal in one take.

Led Zeppelin used this as the basis for a medley they performed in their later shows. They had lots of songs by then, so they used the medley to play snippets of their popular songs they did not want to play all the way through. They incorporated various Blues songs in these medleys as well, notably “Boogie Chillenvideo by John Lee Hooker, which was often followed by what they called “Boogie Woogievideo, by Unknown, and “Let's Have A Partyvideo by Wanda Jackson. They would put this in when Robert Plant would yell, “Way Down INSIDE”.

Some parts of the song as well as some lyrics were borrowed form a song called “You Need Loving” by the Small Faces. Small Faces was a '60 band that Zeppelin modeled themselves after.

The remaining members of Led Zeppelin played this at their Live Aid reunion in 1985. Along with Tony Thompson, Phil Collins sat in on drums. Collins was the biggest presence at Live Aid. He played a set in London, flew to Philadelphia, played another set, then stayed on when Zeppelin took the stage. Jimmy Page was not happy - he thought Collins butchered this.

On some live versions, Jimmy Page played the theremin, a bizarre electronic instrument he liked to experiment with consisting of a black box and antennae. The sound is altered by moving one's hand closer to or farther from the antennae and was used to create the fuzz that alternates back and forth through the speakers. It can be heard to great effect on their Royal Albert Hall footage. Page decided to try theremin after hearing the group Spirit use one.

Page, Plant, and John Paul Jones played this at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert in 1988 with Jason Bonham sitting in on drums for his late father. Jason would join the band again in 2007 at a benefit concert for the Ahmet Ertegun education fund, where they played this as the first encore.

Jimmy Page played the loose blues riff for the intro on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard through a 100W Marshall “Plexi” head amp with distortion from the EL34 output valves.

This song was performed by Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics during the hand over to the host of the 2012 games, London. Prior to the performance there was some concern about the track's somewhat family unfriendly lyrical content, but Lewis tactfully changed the words from “every inch of my love” to “every bit of my love”.

They appeared alongside English soccer star David Beckham as symbols of British entertainment, both old and new. The performance took place in a magnificent, elaborate setting: Beijing's “Bird's Nest” Olympic Stadium. Lewis and Page appeared out of what had been a London double-decker bus, later transformed into a garden of green hedges.

John Paul Jones told Uncut magazine January 2009 that Page began to come into his own as a producer around the time of this song. Said Jones: “The backwards echo stuff. A lot of the microphone techniques were just inspired. Using distance-miking… and small amplifiers. Everybody thinks we go in the studio with huge walls of amplifiers, but he doesn't. He uses a really small amplifier and he just mikes it up really well, so that it fits into a sonic picture.”

On May 5, 2009, this became the first Led Zeppelin song performed on American Idol when Adam Lambert sang it during Rock Week, with Slash as the guest mentor. The judges loved Lambert's version and he advanced to the next round.

The song's guitar riff was voted the greatest of all time by listeners of BBC Radio 2 in a 2014 poll. “Sweet Child O' Minevideo by Guns N' Roses came second in the listing and “Back In Blackvideo by AC/DC third.

Led Zeppelin official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Led Zeppelin II‎ (album)” by Led Zeppelin



● It doesn't matter how fresh-picked they are, coffee beans are actually tasteless until they're roasted.

● René Lacoste, a professional tennis player, invented the world’s first logo shirt. Known as “Le Crocodile” for his on-court tenacity, Lacoste added the crocodile to his clothes in the 1930s – the first time a designer logo is know to have appeared on the outside of a shirt.

● America's first “Air Force” was equipped with five hot-air balloons and fifty servicemen.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

The Stanley Cup hockey have been cancelled one time throughout its history. What year was it cancelled and why?

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

At age 35, this now famous actor was fitting a door for Francis Ford Coppola when a studio executive asked the handyman to take a break and read lines with actresses who were testing for a new film. Who was the actor and what was the film?

Answer: The actor was Harrison Ford. The film was Star Wars. Wikipedia

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A guy was in a cave, looking for treasure. He found an old lamp, rubbed it, and a genie came out.

The genie said, “I will grant you three wishes, but your ex-wife will get double.”

The man agreed, and said “I wish I had a mansion.”

The genie granted it, and his ex-wife got two mansions.

The man said, “I would like a million dollars.”

The genie again granted it and his ex-wife got two million dollars.

Then the man said, “Scare me half to death.”