Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 41, 2016

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Columbus reaches the New World on October 12, 1492

Columbus reaches the New World on October 12, 1492

Columbus reaches the New World: After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.

Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a maritime entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire, as were many land routes. Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus’ day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world’s size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed).

With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his “Enterprise of the Indies,” as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where he was also rejected at least twice by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina. On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.

During his lifetime, Columbus led a total of four expeditions to the New World, discovering various Caribbean islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South and Central American mainlands, but he never accomplished his original goal—a western ocean route to the great cities of Asia. Columbus died in Spain in 1506 without realizing the great scope of what he did achieve: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica /Biography / Library of Congress / Mariners Museum.org video

“London 1802”

The Old Salt’s Corner


Ascending towering mountains with the greatest of ease,

laughing as foliage tickles my tummy with soft, feathery leaves.

Endless melodies, I have played, breezing through dangling chimes,

luring enchanted fairies with an orchestra sublime.

Lifting kites of brilliant colors, I choreograph the dance.

Such magnificent, breathtaking moves, never given to chance.

Designer of vast deserts, sculpting massive, lounging dunes.

Artist of the lonely face that rises from the moon.

Donning infinite perfumes; sweetest flowers; savory food,

or the salt of seven seas, when in a traveling mood.

Ghost writer of romantic voyages, sailors and pirates tell;

beached lovers on exotic islands, my gust upon their sail.

I've swooped down through lost canyons, and valleys, emerald green;

lain in meadow's tall lush grass to nap in sun's warm gleam

My disposition revealed by soft whispers through the trees,

or howls from the north, saddled on winter's cold, pale steed.

Old as God himself, being born of his first breath

I fill the lungs of eternity, forever evading death.

~ Arlene Smith

“I’m Just Sayin”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Galaxies recede from an observer at a rate proportional to their distance to that observer.”

~ Hubble's law

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

~ Herman Oliver Albright

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Dont mix bad words with your bad mood. You may have many opportunities to change a mood but you will never get the opportunity to replace the words you have spoken.”

~ Author Unknown

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)

Vlogger celebrates birthday by destroying 500-pound iPhone cake

Vlogger celebrates birthday by destroying 500-pound iPhone cake

SACRAMENTO, California - A tech vlogger who specializes in creatively destroying smartphones celebrated his birthday by watching a woman dive into a giant cake shaped like an iPhone.

Taras Maksimuk, aka TechRax, posted a video to YouTube showing the gigantic 500-pound iPhone cake created for his birthday.

The iPhone cake, like the iPhones from TechRax's videos, ends up destroyed in a violent fashion when a woman dives onto it.

“Today, I witnessed the biggest dessert I've ever seen in my life,” TechRax wrote. “An enormously huge 230kg iPhone cake get destroyed by a blonde girl.”

“Don't try this at home,” he wrote. Flight attendants reveal 9 “behind the scenes” secrets. UPI (08/12/2016) video

Are Lefties Really More Creative?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Are Lefties Really More Creative?

The left-handed brand has come a long way in the last few decades. The majority of people no longer assume that southpaws are tools of Satan, alight with hellfire. Today’s lefties are surrounded by a far more benevolent glow. We associate left-handedness with intelligence, out-of-the-box thinking, and artistic talent. But are these flattering generalizations backed up by science? Does being left-handed really make you more creative?

The answer to that is a definitive … maybe.

Scientists have been chipping away at the peculiarities of left-handedness, which occurs in about 10 percent of the population, for a long time. They’ve looked into the purported links between left-handedness and things like mental illness, faulty immune systems, and criminal behavior. They’ve studied whether lefties are better at problem-solving, and if they’re more likely to die young. From all these studies on left-handedness, we can conclude one thing, and one thing alone: science is complicated.

A handful of studies have found a link between left-handedness and creativity, conferred, some think, by the fact that left-handed folks constantly have to adjust to a right-handed world. Other studies found no link at all.

Some researchers conclude that lefties are no smarter than righties, while others say that left-handedness comes with a clear intellectual advantage. Is there really a left-handed personality? Are lefties more prone to schizophrenia and learning disabilities? That depends on who you ask.

But “Are lefties different?” might not even be the right question. Over the last few years, a number of studies have concluded that it’s not which hand is dominant that matters—it’s the degree of dominance. According to researchers, very few people are truly entirely left- or right-handed; it’s more of a spectrum. We use our left hands for some things and our right hands for other tasks.

These experiments have found that people toward the middle of the spectrum are more flexible thinkers. They seem to be more empathetic and better able to view things from other people’s perspectives. When considering the risks and benefits of any given decision, inconsistent-handed people (as researchers call them) are more likely to focus on the risks, whereas people at the outer edges of the handedness spectrum pay more attention to potential benefits. They may even sleep differently. It seems we’ve been aiming our stereotypes a little too far to the left.

But who knows? This is ever-changing, constantly evolving science. If you’re a lefty who enjoys feeling superior, we’re not going to tell you to tone it down. For all we know, you could be right.

The AtlanticThe GuardianPsychology TodayMental FlossNew YorkerWikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Shiver me timbers or Shiver my timbers”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Shiver me timbers or Shiver my timbers:”  Meaning: An oath, expressing annoyance or surprise.

Origin: Those of a certain age will remember Robert Newton, rolling his eyes and yarring it up in his archetypal Hollywood pirate role - Long John Silver in the 1950 film Treasure Island.

Robert Louis Stevenson used shiver my timbers several times in the original 1883 book, for example:

“Well, he [Old Pew] is dead now and under hatches; but for two year before that, shiver my timbers, the man was starving!”

Of course, Newton made the most of such 'parrot on the shoulder' phrases and it also appears several times in the film's screenplay. Newton's version, like that of all self-respecting stage pirates, was shiver me timbers, with the occasional 'aaarh, Jim lad' thrown in.

The first appearance of the phrase in print is in Frederick Marryat's Jacob Faithful, 1834:

“I won't thrash you Tom. Shiver my timbers if I do.”

One meaning of shiver, which is now largely forgotten, is 'to break into pieces'. That meaning originated at least as early as the 14th century and is recorded in several Old English texts. A more recent citation, which makes that meaning clear, is James Froude's Caesar; a sketch, 1879:

“As he crossed the hall, his statue fell, and shivered on the stones.”

So, the sailor's oath shiver my timbers, is synonymous with let my boat breaks into pieces. The question is whether any real sailor used the term or whether it was just a literary invention. Well, we can't be sure, but no one has yet provided any clear evidence that it is more than Newton-style hokum.


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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Mail Buoy: A fictitious bouy that mail for a ship is left on. Usually new sailors are given a mail buoy watch for the entertainment of the more seasoned sailors.

Magic Smoke: Substance that makes naval electronics work. Equipment failure is usually caused by letting the smoke out.

Mags: Place to store ammunition and weapons in warships and fortifications.

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

Just for you MARINE

MEU: Marine Expeditionary Unit.

MEU(SOC): Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable); 11th MEU(SOC), 13th MEU(SOC), 15th MEU(SOC), 22nd MEU(SOC), 24th MEU(SOC), 26th MEU(SOC) or 31st MEU(SOC).

Mickey Mouse: Boots – Boots designed for extreme cold weather using an air bladder for insulation, so named for their oversized and bloated appearance.

Midrats: Midnight (or other late-night) rations provided for servicemembers who work late hours.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSM-71 - Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron: “Raptors”
Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Why humans NEED to party: Experts reveal 'collective' behaviours arose from our primordial ancestors' need to bond and communicateIngenious £70 reading glasses allow users to focus with binoculars-style dial“New Stonehenge” was made of WOOD: Vast 4,500-year-old timber circle may have been erected to commemorate the builders of its famous neighbourBorn in the decade the Mayflower carried the Pilgrim Fathers to the new world: The shark that has lived to be FOUR CENTURIES oldSecurity experts reveal $40 device that would allow thieves to wirelessly unlock nearly every Volkswagen made since 1995Do YOU sleep naked? Experts explain why skipping clothes at bedtime is good for youFinding hope in the despair: Rare color photos of the Great Depression show how America pulled itself back from some of its darkest days Daily Mail

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Machine in Cambodia manufactures heart-shaped “clouds”

Machine in Cambodia manufactures heart-shaped “clouds”

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A city in Cambodia features a new and bizarre roadside attraction -- a machine that makes heart-shaped “clouds” of foam.

The Khmer Cloud Making Service in Phnom Penh posted a video to Facebook showing how its machine makes heart-shaped “clouds” that float away on the wind.

The company said the “clouds” can be formed into numerous different shapes using different cut-out patterns.

The company said it recently sold one of its machines to The Walt Disney Co.'s office in Switzerland. UPI (08/12/2016) video

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


“Immigrant Song” - Led Zeppelin

“Immigrant Song” - Led Zeppelin
Album: Led Zeppelin III
Released 1970 video

The “Land of ice and snow” is Iceland, where the band played in June 1970. Robert Plant explained: “We weren't being pompous. We did come from the land of the ice and snow. We were guests of the Icelandic Government on a cultural mission. We were invited to play a concert in Reykjavik and the day before we arrived all the civil servants went on strike and the gig was going to be canceled. The university prepared a concert hall for us and it was phenomenal. The response from the kids was remarkable and we had a great time. 'Immigrant Song' was about that trip and it was the opening track on the album that was intended to be incredibly different.”

One of the lyrics became part of Led Zeppelin lore. The line, “The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands”got many of their fans referring to Zeppelin's sound as the “Hammer of the gods”. The phrase was used by author Stephen Davis as the title of a book about the band.

Led Zeppelin meant for this song to be somewhat humorous. They weren't known as a funny band, so a lot of their fans took it quite seriously.

The hiss at the beginning is feedback from an echo unit. It was intentional.

Until the Zeppelin boxed set was released, “Hey, Hey What Can I Dovideo could be found only on the flip side of this single.

The single was mistakenly released in Japan with “Out On The Tiles” as the B-side rather than “Hey, Hey What Can I Do”. That single is now a rare collectible.

One of the lyrics is “Valhalla I am coming”. It refers to Norse Mythology. Valhalla is a hall in Asgard where the souls of fallen warriors are taken by the “Valkyries”, which are spirits of war who carry up heroes who have been slain. Only heroes are taken to Valhalla, where they will wait for their certain doom.

Led Zeppelin opened their live shows with this song from 1970-1972.

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

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



● On average, a hen lays 227 eggs can in one year.

● Photosynthesis is the process green plants convert the energy of sunlight into chemical energy and growth.

● In the animal kingdom, Elephants have the longest gestation period, about 645 days almost 2 years.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A ham sandwich walks into a bar and orders a beer.

Bartender says, “Sorry we don’t serve food here.”

Pun of the Day

To me the end result of a can-do attitude is positively candid.