Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 53, 2015

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Panama Canal turned over to Panama on December 31, 1999

Panama Canal turned over to Panama on December 31, 1999

Panama Canal turned over to Panama: On this day in 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially hands over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and officially opened when the SS Arcon sailed through on August 15, 1914. Since then, over 922,000 ships have used the canal.

Interest in finding a shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific originated with explorers in Central America in the early 1500s. In 1523, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V commissioned a survey of the Isthmus of Panama and several plans for a canal were produced, but none ever implemented. U.S. interest in building a canal was sparked with the expansion of the American West and the California gold rush in 1848. (Today, a ship heading from New York to San Francisco can save about 7,800 miles by taking the Panama Canal rather than sailing around South America.)

In 1880 a French company run by the builder of the Suez Canal started digging a canal across the Isthmus of Panama (then a part of Colombia). More than 22,000 workers died from tropical diseases such as yellow fever during this early phase of construction and the company eventually went bankrupt, selling its project rights to the United States in 1902 for $40 million. President Theodore Roosevelt championed the canal, viewing it as important to America’s economic and military interests. In 1903, Panama declared its independence from Colombia in a U.S.-backed revolution and the U.S. and Panama signed the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, in which the U.S. agreed to pay Panama $10 million for a perpetual lease on land for the canal, plus $250,000 annually in rent.

Over 56,000 people worked on the canal between 1904 and 1913 and over 5,600 lost their lives. When finished, the canal, which cost the U.S. $375 million to build, was considered a great engineering marvel and represented America’s emergence as a world power.

In 1977, responding to nearly 20 years of Panamanian protest, U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Panama’s General Omar Torrijos signed two new treaties that replaced the original 1903 agreement and called for a transfer of canal control in 1999. The treaty, narrowly ratified by the U.S. Senate, gave America the ongoing right to defend the canal against any threats to its neutrality. In October 2006, Panamanian voters approved a $5.25 billion plan to double the canal’s size by 2015 to better accommodate modern ships.

Ships pay tolls to use the canal, based on each vessel’s size and cargo volume. In May 2006, the Maersk Dellys paid a record toll of $249,165. The smallest-ever toll–36 cents–was paid by Richard Halliburton, who swam the canal in 1928. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Library of Congress / Office of the Historian (1899-1913) - Office of the Historian (1977-1980) / Canal Museum / The Atlantic

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Military deception

(DOD) Actions executed to deliberately mislead adversary military, paramilitary, or violent extremist organization decision makers, thereby causing the adversary to take specific actions (or inactions) that will contribute to the accomplishment of the friendly mission. Also called MILDEC. Joint Publications 3-13.4 (Operations, Series - Information Operations)

“Mariner's 23rd Psalm” - “Unknown”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Mariner's 23rd Psalm”

The Lord is my pilot, I shall not go adrift;

He lighteth my passage across dark channels;

He steereth me through the deep waters,

He keepeth my log.

He guideth me by the evening star for my safety's sake.

Yes, though I sail mid the thunders and tempests of life,

I fear no peril, for Thou art with me,

Thy stars and heavens, they comfort me.

The vastness of the sea upholds me.

Surely fair winds and safe harbors shall be found

All the days of my life;

And I shall dock, secure forever.

~ Unknown

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.”

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“You never truly understand something until you can explain it to your grandmother.”

~ Unknown

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

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)

The Patient Will See The Doctor Now

The Patient Will See The Doctor Now

Professional patients now help train would-be doctors, especially in the most delicate and dreaded of exams (gynecological and prostate), where a becalming technique improves outcomes.

One “teaching associate” of Eastern Virginia Medical School told the Washington Post in September that the helpers act as “enthusiastic surgical dummies” to 65 medical colleges, guiding rookie fingers through the trainer’s own private parts

The prostate associate might helpfully caution, “No need for speed here”, especially since he will be bending over for as many as nine probings a day. A Gynecological Teaching Associate, mentoring the nervous speculum-wielder, might wittily congratulate pupils on having a front-row sight line the GTA will never witness: an up-close view of her own cervix. video

Washington Post (09/22/2015)

How Does Caffeine Work?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Does Caffeine Work?

Caffeine isn’t the kickstarting jitter-drug you think it is. If anything, it’s a sneaky imposter.

First, a little biology. As your neurons fire throughout the day, a neurochemical called adenosine builds up in your body. The nervous system uses special receptors to monitor your body’s adenosine levels. As the day wears on, more and more adenosine passes through those receptors—and it makes you sleepy. It’s one of the reasons you get tired at night.

Caffeine, however, is a stealthy impersonator. It’s the same size and shape as adenosine, and when you sip your morning joe, your adenosine receptors can’t tell the difference. Specifically, caffeine attaches to the A1 receptor. With caffeine docked at the receptor, a lot of your body’s adenosine molecules can’t enter. It creates a traffic jam of sorts. With all that adenosine blocked, the caffeine keeps you from getting tired.

But that’s not where coffee’s kick comes from. With the adenosine receptor clogged, neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate can get a head start. Your dopamine levels swell, giving you a mild jolt of energy. In a way, caffeine is like a bouncer. It blocks the door, keeping the tired molecules out while the more stimulating molecules party on.

But the party can last for only so long. Caffeine may give you that much-needed morning boost, but it can also make you crash—hard. It takes about four cups of coffee to block half of the brain’s A1 receptors. With that many receptors clogged, the adenosine mounting in your body has nowhere to go.

So when the caffeine wears off, all that extra adenosine rushes through your receptors. It takes a long time for your body to process the huge flow of new metabolites. And guess what? It leaves you feeling even groggier than you felt before.

Business InsiderCaffeine InformerMayo Clinic.orgMental FlossWikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Bee Line”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Bee Line:

In the past people believed that bees flew in a straight line to their hive. So if you made a bee line for something you went straight for it. Phrases.org UK

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Navy Balls: Bravado that would not be displayed if threat of CO's Mast was not preventing action and/or protecting one's ass. Quite prevalent among wanna-be thugs in boot camp. I.E.: “Man, if I wasn't in the Navy, I'd kick your f**kin' ass.”

Navy Ho: (Sometimes pron. nava-ho like “Navajo” Indian tribe) Derogatory term used by male sailors/Marines to describe all women in the Navy. Usually used when someone has been personally slighted by such a female.

Navy Shower: Not a form of punishment. While underway, fresh water must be manufactured. A common-sense way of saving it is to wet down while taking a shower and then TURN OFF THE WATER. Lather up and wash. Finally, TURN ON THE WATER to rinse off. Continual disregard WILL attract a punishment shower with scrub brushes. (see “Hollywood Shower”)

Nest: A number of small ships (usually small combatants) tied up outboard of each other at a pier.

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

Just for you MARINE

Hashmark: Stripes worn on forearm of dress and service uniforms by enlisted Marines, each denotes 4 years of service. Also a brown stripe in skivvies.

HASP: (Vietnam era) Hawaiian Armed Services Police.

Hat: Informally suitable term for the Campaign Cover worn by Drill Instructors. Also an informally suitable name for Drill Instructors. Also, to leave as in “get a hat”.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VP-4 - Patrol Squadron 4: “Skinny Dragons”
MCB Hawaii

Aircraft Nicknames

Aircraft Nicknames

UH-1 Iroquois - Huey: The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (unofficially Huey) is a military helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine, with two-bladed main and tail rotors. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army's requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and it first flew on October 20, 1956.

The first combat operation of the UH-1 was in the service of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The original designation of HU-1 led to the helicopter's nickname of Huey.[2] In September 1962, the designation was changed to UH-1, but "Huey" remained in common use. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam. Museum of Flight.org / Wikipedia

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


“Sunshine Of Your Love” - Cream 1967

“Sunshine Of Your Love” - Cream
Album: Disraeli Gears
Released 1967 video (Farewell Concert - Extended Edition)

The lyric was written by Pete Brown, a beat poet who was friends with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. He also wrote lyrics for “I Feel Free” and “White Roomvideo. Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce wrote the music.

Jack Bruce's bass line carries the song. He got the idea for it after going to a Jimi Hendrix concert. When Kees van Wee interviewed Bruce in 2003 for the Dutch magazine Heaven, Kees asked him which of his many songs epitomizes Jack Bruce the most. At first he was in doubt whether he should answer “Pieces Of Mind” or “Keep On Wondering”, but then he changed his mind and opted for “Sunshine Of Your Love”. Because, Said Bruce, “It's based on a bass riff. And when you enter a music shop this is the song that kids always play to try out a guitar.”

Pete Brown wrote the opening line after being up all night working with Bruce and watching the sun come up. That's where he got, “It's getting near dawn, when lights close their tired eyes.”

Tom Dowd, who worked with most of the artists for Atlantic Records at the time, engineered the Disreali Gears album. Dowd was renowned for his technical genius, but also for his ability to relate to musicians and put them at ease.

When Cream recorded this song, it wasn't working. In the documentary Tom Dowd And The Language Of Music, he explained: “There just wasn't this common ground that they had on so many of the other songs. I said, 'Have you ever seen an American Western where the Indian beat - the downbeat - is the beat? Why don't you play that one. Ginger went inside and they started to run the song again. When they started playing that way, all of the parts came together and they were elated.”

One man who was not impressed was Ahmet Ertegun, who was head of the group's label. When Bruce revealed the song at the sessions, Ertegun declared it “psychedelic hogwash”. Ertegun constantly tried to promote Eric Clapton as the band's leader, and also didn't believe the bassist should be a lead singer. He only relented and agreed to champion this song after Booker T. Jones came by and expressed his approval.

This is one of Eric Clapton's favorites from his days with Cream; he played it at most of his solo shows throughout his career. When Cream played some reunion concerts in 2005, they played the song as their encore.

Jimi Hendrix covered this at some of his concerts, unaware that he was the inspiration for the bass line.

Hendrix did an impromptu performance of the song when he appeared on Happening for Lulu, BBC TV show in England hosted by the prim and proper “To Sir With Love” singer. After playing part of his scheduled song “Hey Joevideo, Hendrix stopped the performance and said, “We'd like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream, regardless of what kind of group they may be in. We dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.”

This version appears on the Experience Hendrix 2CD/3LP The BBC Sessions towards the end of Disc 2/Side 6 on the LP. An instrumental version appears on the 2010 Valleys of Neptune album, which was recorded by Hendrix at London's Olympic Studios on February 16, 1969.

Hendrix engineer and producer Eddie Kramer recalled to Toronto's The Globe and Mail: “Jimi loved Cream, he loved Eric Clapton. It was a fabulous song, he loved to play it, and he would just rip into it whenever the mood hit him.”

This was Cream's biggest hit. It was their first to do better in the US than in the UK, as they started to catch on in America. In the US, this first charted in February 1968 at #36. In August, after the album came out, it re-entered the chart and went to #5.

Clapton's guitar solo is based on the '50s song “Blue Moonvideo.

Excepting “Strange Brewvideo, the “Disraeli Gears (album)” was recorded in just three days, as the band had to return to England because their work visas were expiring. Engineer Tom Dowd recalls the sessions coming to an abrupt end when a limo driver showed up to take the musicians to the airport. Dowd was tasked with mixing the album in their absence.

Cream played this at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 12, 1993 when they reunited for their induction. To that point, the only other time the band got back together was at Eric Clapton's wedding in 1979.

Jack Bruce - Ginger Baker Cream official sites / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Rolling Stone / Billboard / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Disraeli Gears (album)” by Cream



● The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease that it was intended to prevent.

● Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.

● The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Understanding Engineers

To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.