Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 42, 2015

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Mata Hari executed on October 15, 1917

Mata Hari executed on October 15, 1917

Mata Hari executed: Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, is executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris.

She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of how she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in Malay. In reality, Mata Hari was born in a small town in northern Holland in 1876, and her real name was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She acquired her superficial knowledge of Indian and Javanese dances when she lived for several years in Malaysia with her former husband, who was a Scot in the Dutch colonial army. Regardless of her authenticity, she packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France, mostly because her show consisted of her slowly stripping nude.

There is some evidence that Mata Hari acted as a German spy, and for a time as a double agent for the French, but the Germans had written her off as an ineffective agent whose pillow talk had produced little intelligence of value. Her military trial was riddled with bias and circumstantial evidence, and it is probable that French authorities trumped her up as “the greatest woman spy of the century” as a distraction for the huge losses the French army was suffering on the western front. Her only real crimes may have been an elaborate stage fallacy and a weakness for men in uniform. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / BBC / Eye Witness to History / Executed Today

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Washington (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner

Limber Hole

A limber hole is a drain hole through a frame in a boat designed to prevent water from accumulating against one side of the frame. Limber holes are common in the bilges of wooden boats.

In modern armored warfare, hull-down is a position taken up by an armored fighting vehicle (AFV) so that its hull (the main part of the vehicle) is behind a crest or other raised ground, but its turret (or a superstructure or roof-mounted weapon) is exposed. Turret-down is the position in which the vehicle's crew can observe forward from roof hatches, but the vehicle is completely hidden (usually a few meters further back from a hull-down position). The belly armor should not be exposed, because it is vulnerable to even modest antitank weapons.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Whatever happened to preparations A through G?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“The fool doth think he is wise.”

“But a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

~ Shakespeare (“As You Like It”)

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.”

~ Herbert Hoover

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)

EXCLUSIVE: WWII sketches of bizarre assassination attempts on Winston Churchill include exploding bangers and mash

EXCLUSIVE: WWII sketches of bizarre assassination attempts on Winston Churchill include exploding bangers and mash

A wartime artist drew attention to Nazi assassination attempts on Sir Winston Churchill with these intricate diagrams.

Laurence Fish was drafted into MI5 by Lord Victor Rothschild’s Counter Sabotage Unit to illustrate how to defuse Hitler’s deadliest gadgets.

Fish was briefed from spies’ reports gathered by Rothschild who routinely X-rayed gifts sent to Britain’s Prime Minister during the Second World War.

Sketches of devices including a flask fire bomb, exploding bangers and mash and booby-trapped chocolate turned up recently at Rushbrooke Hall, Suffolk.

The drawings had never been seen publicly until a few weeks ago, when Rothschild's daughter, Victoria, found them when she was clearing out the family home in Suffolk.

The Mirror UK (10/01/2015)

What’s the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What’s the Difference Between an Alligator and a Crocodile?

Despite being entirely different animals (sharing the order Crocodilia, but not a family), crocodiles and alligators appear to be very similar. To the untrained eye, both look like prehistoric swamp lizards, but there are some tricks you can use so you don’t make a faux pas the next time you’re in Florida.

The quickest way to tell the two reptiles apart is by their smile: In both animals' lower jaws, they have a long tooth on either side. When crocodiles close their mouths, you can see these long teeth protrude from their faces. Alligators, on the other hand, slip them into sockets in their upper jaw. As a general rule, the toothier the crocodillian, the more likely it's a crocodile.

Other things to look for include head shape and skin color. Crocodiles tend to have V-shaped faces, while alligators sport shorter, U-shaped snouts. Gators also have darker, greener skin than their tannish brown counterparts.

In terms of geography, crocodiles are much more common, inhabiting a good chunk of the eastern hemisphere and Central America. Alligators are more modest in their population, living mostly in South American and southern United States, with a tiny pocket in China.

There are 23 species of crocodilians, so there is a lot of variation to consider. When trying to identify your giant reptile, the tooth rule is key. Like sharks, crocodiles and alligators can regrow their missing teeth, so the pointy indicators are very likely to always be there.

CrocodilianLive ScienceMental FlossWikipedia (Alligator) - Wikipedia (Crocodile‎)

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Jaywalker”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Jaywalker:” One who crosses the street in a reckless or illegal manner.

History: Jay birds that traveled outside of the forest into urban areas often became confused and unaware of the potential dangers in the city - like traffic. Amused by their erratic behavior, people began using the term “Jaywalker” to describe someone who crossed the street irresponsibly.

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

FuFu Juice: Perfume or cologne.

Fun Boss: Morale, Welfare and Recreation Officer.

Fun Meter: Fictitious gauge that shows the amount of mirth one is experiencing in any given situation. Most often used sarcastically to express extreme boredom or disinterest. "Please end this redass of an AOM. My fun meter is pegged!

Gastro: General term for Gastroentritis, or food-poisoning underway.

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

Just for you MARINE

Gook Boots: (Vietnam) Flip-flops. The Vietnamese could make really good ones out of old car tires.

Gooner: Alternate form of Gook.

Gortex: A semi-permeable material designed to keep the wearer warm and dry by allowing excessive body moisture to escape through the material while keeping rain and other moisture out.

Gouge: The - A takeoff on “scoop” it suggest that this information is from a reliable source.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VR-57 - Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 57: “Conquistadors”
NAS North Island, California

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

It is possible for a woman to get pregnant while she is already pregnant

“Pregnant While Pregnant:” It is possible for a woman to get pregnant while she is already pregnant

Called “superfetation”, cases of double pregnancy, although rare, are possible, and occur when a woman continues ovulating even after becoming pregnant and the second fertilized egg gets implanted to the uterine wall.

However, this is not very common, as hormonal changes prevent a woman from ovulating further, thickening the uterine lining, thus preventing a second embryo attaching itself to the uterine wall.

There have only been 10 recorded cases of this phenomenon thus far. Daily MailBaby Center

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


“Dancing Queen” - ABBA 1976

“Dancing Queen” - ABBA
Album: Arrival
Released 1976 video

This was written by ABBA members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. According to ABBA's official site, it was conceived as a dance song with the working title “Boogaloo”. They drew inspiration from the 1974 George McCrae disco hit “Rock Your Babyvideo, and from the drumming on the 1972 album Gumbo by Dr. John. Their manager Stig Anderson came up with the title “Dancing Queen”, and after several months working on the track, ABBA came up with arguably the world's first Europop Disco hit.

ABBA recorded this about a year before it was released. It was written and recorded around the same time as “Fernando”, which was chosen as the single. They knew “Dancing Queen” would also be a hit, so they held it until the album was released before issuing it as a single.

ABBA performed this song on June 18, 1976 at a televised tribute to Queen Silvia and King Gustaf XVI of Sweden, who were married the next day.

This was the only one of ABBA's 14 US Top-40 hits to make it to #1.Regarding the lyrics, “Night is young and the music's high”, many listeners interpret this as a statement that the music makes you feel high. In ABBA's part of the world, however, it simply means that the music is loud.

Along with many other ABBA songs, this was featured in Muriel's Wedding, a hit Australian movie starring Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths. (thanks, Katie - Australia)

According to the BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, when this song was played at a Windsor Castle event Queen Elizabeth said: “I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the Queen and I like to dance.”

This song also reached #1 in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Rhodesia, South Africa, Sweden and West Germany. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA)

When Benny first played Frida the song's backing track, she burst into tears. “And that was before me and Agnetha had even sung on it!” she smiled to The Guardian (UK). “I knew it was absolutely the best song Abba had ever done.”

This came top of a 2014 poll conducted by Blinkbox concerning the most commonly misheard lyrics in Pop. 22% of the people polled admitted they had mistaken the lyric “See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen” for, “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen.”

Chris Stein of Blondie says that his group's 1979 hit “Dreamingvideo is “pretty much a cop” of “Dancing Queen”.

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

Image: “Arrival‎ (album)” by ABBA



● Born Harold Jenkins, Conway Twitty got his stage name from two cities (Conway, Arkansas, and Twitty, Texas) near his home.

● Mustard’s name is a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens, meaning “burning wine”.

● The letter “J” was the last letter added to the English Alphabet. Before that, the letter “L” was used in its place. “U” was the second to last letter added, and was usually replaced by “V”.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A trucker who has been out on the road for two weeks stops at a brothel outside Atlanta.

He walks straight up to the Madam, drops down $500 and says: “I want your ugliest woman and a grilled cheese sandwich!”

The Madam is astonished. “But sir, for that kind of money you could have one of my finest ladies and a three-course meal.”

The trucker replies: “Listen darlin', I'm not horny - I'm homesick.”