Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 46, 2016

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Fort Washington Is Captured on November 16, 1776

Fort Washington Is Captured on November 16, 1776

Fort Washington Is Captured: On this day in 1776, Hessian Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen and a force of 3,000 Hessian mercenaries and 5,000 Redcoats lay siege to Fort Washington at the northern end and highest point of Manhattan Island.

Throughout the morning, Knyphausen met stiff resistance from the Patriot riflemen inside the fort, but by afternoon, the Patriots were overwhelmed, and the garrison commander, Colonel Robert Magaw, surrendered. Nearly 3,000 Patriots were taken prisoner, and valuable ammunition and supplies were lost to the Hessians. The prisoners faced a particularly grim fate: Many later died from deprivation and disease aboard British prison ships anchored in New York Harbor.

Among the 53 dead and 96 wounded Patriots were John and Margaret Corbin of Virginia. When John died in action, his wife Margaret took over his cannon, cleaning, loading and firing the gun until she too was severely wounded. The first woman known to have fought for the Continental Army, Margaret survived, but lost the use of her left arm.

Two weeks earlier, one of Magaw’s officers, William Demont, had deserted the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion and given British intelligence agents information about the Patriot defense of New York, including details about the location and defense of Fort Washington. Demont was the first traitor to the Patriot cause, and his treason contributed significantly to Knyphausen’s victory.

Fort Washington stood at the current location of Bennet Park in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, near the George Washington Bridge, at the corner of Fort Washington Avenue and 183rd Street. Fort Washington Park and Fort Washington Point lay beneath the site along the Hudson River. History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / British Battles / Campaign 1776.org / National Museum of the Marine Corps Virtual Experience / National Museum of the Marine Corps Museum

“The Sailor Boy”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“The Sailor Boy”

He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,

Shot o’er the seething harbour-bar,

And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,

And whistled to the morning star.

And while he whistled long and loud

He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,

“O boy, tho' thou are young and proud,

I see the place where thou wilt lie.”

“The sands and yeasty surges mix

In caves about the dreary bay,

And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,

And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.”

“Fool,” he answer’d, “death is sure

To those that stay and those that roam,

But I will nevermore endure

To sit with empty hands at home.”

“My mother clings about my neck,

My sisters crying, ‘Stay for shame;’

My father raves of death and wreck,-

They are all to blame, they are all to blame.”

“God help me! save I take my part

Of danger on the roaring sea,

A devil rises in my heart,

Far worse than any death to me.”

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1861)

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived,

however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

~ Maya Angelou

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“At some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening.”

~ 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)

Bazooka bubble gum sticks to its word, awards prize for contest entry submitted 59 years late

Bazooka bubble gum sticks to its word, awards prize for contest entry submitted 59 years late

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — It's been a year tinged with sadness fne that has turned into “a complete joyride”.

After his brother died of cancer earlier this year, it prompted Day to do some soul searching — and some housecleaning. In the midst of that, the 70-year-old Grand Prairie resident and lifelong baseball fan discovered a complete collection of Topps baseball cards from 1957-58.


Day noticed something in the fine print: No year was given to enter the contest.

“I was struck by the fact it didn't have a year listed on the card”, he said. “It was a simpler time. You didn't need a team of lawyers to do everything back then.”

“What did he get, those special X-ray glasses?” asked John Gilman, a friend of Day's who joins him at Rangers games as well as at The Summit senior activity center in Grand Prairie.

“No, it's a a Louisville Slugger glove.”

Dallas Morning News (09/09/2016)

Why Are Planets Round?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Are Planets Round?

When they tried to figure out how to define a planet, one of the criteria that astronomers settled on was whether its body was spherical, instead of irregular. Indeed, the fact that Pluto is spherical is one of the reasons the category of “dwarf planet” was created when it was downgraded from a fully fledged planet—because its shape meant it was still too planet-like to be called anything else.

But what is it that makes planets round? Why are they that shape and not something else? And what do potatoes have to do with it?

The answer to those first two questions is fairly straightforward: planets are round because of gravity.

Planetary bodies are formed when material in space clumps together under its own gravitational pull to form a larger body. When that body's mass reaches a sufficiently high point, its gravity becomes strong enough to overcome the structure of the materials of which it is composed and they begin to deform (greatly helped if the planet goes through a molten phase early in its history). The rock (or ice, or gas, or whatever else) gets dragged toward the gravitational center of the body, and over time this pulls the material into the simplest shape that can satisfy the forces upon it: a sphere (ignoring any odd bulges from rotation).

It might take a while, but without any other major external force involved, it seems to be inevitable. The gravitational center will become the physical center, and large enough planets will always become spheres.

Of course, “large enough” is a relative term. Pluto is much smaller than Earth, but still big enough to have formed into a sphere. Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, and Earth's moon have also managed this feat. Even Ceres, a dwarf planet found in the asteroid belt, is large enough to be spherical. If being spherical were the only requirement for being a planet, we'd have to consider countless other bodies as planets. Indeed, Earth would rightly have to be considered a binary planet system rather than a planet with a moon.

This is the other reason why the designation "dwarf planet" was invented. It applies to bodies which are large enough to be spherical but not to have achieved “gravitational dominance” over their orbital region. The moon is in the thrall of Earth, Charon is in the thrall of Pluto, Pluto has other Kuiper Belt Objects in the vicinity, and Ceres is surrounded by asteroids which it has (thus far) failed to clear.

But dwarf planets still have planet in the name, so you might be wondering where the cut-off point actually is. And that's where potatoes come into it: Although there are various factors that can produce planetary outliers (rotational speed and mass are two major ones), it seems that most bodies become spherical at a radius of around 200 to 300 kilometers. This is known as “the Potato Radius”, because it's when bodies lose their “potato” shape and begin deforming into spheres.

Ultimately, the question of why planets are round has a pretty fundamental answer: it's because, according to the physical laws of the universe as we understand them, it's that they simply don't have any other choice.

Cool CosmosGeekMental FlossNASAWikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Sour grapes”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Sour grapes:”  Meaning: Acting meanly after a disappointment.

Origin: In the fable The Fox and the Grapes, which is attributed to the ancient Greek writer Aesop, the fox isn't able to reach the grapes and declares them to be sour:

Harrison Weir's 1884 English translation, which claims to be “from original sources”, presents the text like this:

A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, beguiling herself of her disappointment, and saying: “The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought.”

Some of the fables associated with Aesop were written as late as 1900 and many of the earlier ones were considerably amended in Victorian translation into English. Also, some scholars also prefer 'unripe' to 'sour' as a literal translation of the earlier Greek texts.

The phrase also occurs in the Bible, Ezekiel - in Miles Coverdale's Bible, 1535:

18:1 The worde of the LORDE came vnto me, on this maner:

18:2 What meane ye by this comon prouerbe, that ye vse in the londe of Israel, sayenge: The fathers haue eaten soure grapes, and the childres teth are set on edge?

18:3 As truly as I lyue, saieth ye LORDE God, ye shal vse this byworde nomore in Israel.

The biblical version of the expression doesn't match the meaning as the Aesop's Fables version does and, although it may well be an older citation of the two words 'sour' and 'grapes', it appears that the latter is the source of the phrase. What we can't say for definite is what date it entered the English language.


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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Masagi Girl: A prostitute (typically Chinese) found in the Honch. So-called because they urgently whisper "Masagi?" as sailors wander past in search of libations.

M.A.S.H.: Make A Sailor Hurt: (used in boot camp to describe) any physical training on the time of the Company Commander. Such training usually resulted in the recruit hitting the rack with several aches and pains he would not normally have had.

Marine Dinner Tray: Derogatory description (to the “eldest service branch”) of an enlisted sailor's 13 button flap on the front of his dress blue uniform trousers.

Mast: Common abbreviated form of “Captain's Mast” or “Admiral's Mast”. A form of non-judicial punishment in which a sailor finds himself standing tall in front of the old man when he has really screwed the pooch. Green felt is usually abundant.

Mast Crank: A fictitious crank, usually impersonated by a Bull Gear crank from engineering, which is to be collected by a junior enlisted to crank down the mast while passing under a short bridge. It is typically made to disappear 30 seconds before it is needed, sending junior enlisted crewmembers into a panic that the mast will hit the bridge under which the ship is about to pass.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSM-75 - Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron: “Wolfpack”
Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California / Coronado, California

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Creepy Bozos Haunting Woods Are Making Life Hard for Real Clowns

Creepy Bozos Haunting Woods Are Making Life Hard for Real Clowns

Creepy clown sightings spread, and authorities aren't laughing - “Clowns” in S.C. Woods No Laughing Matter

“I walked into a event in a bright-colored hat and vest and one of the first things someone said was, 'Oh my God, it's a clown, it's a clown' — in a frightened way”, he said.

Now he's worried that professional clowns like himself could trigger 911 calls just by walking down the street — or become targets of vigilantes. NBC News (09/08/2016) video

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


“Sweet Child O' Mine” - Guns N' Roses 1987

“Sweet Child O' Mine” - Guns N' Roses
Album: Appetite For Destruction
Released 1987 video

The lyrics came from a poem Axl Rose was working on. He wrote the song about his girlfriend, Erin Everly, who is the daughter of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers. They married in 1990 but divorced a month later.

Appetite For Destruction was Guns N' Roses first album, and it took a while for the band to catch on. This didn't hit U.S. #1 until a year after the album was released. It was the third single, following “It's So Easyvideo and “Welcome To The Junglevideo, which both flopped, although “Welcome To The Jungle” became a hit when it was re-released in the wake of “Sweet Child”'s success.

Slash came up with the riff when he was playing around on his guitar. He thought it was silly and wanted nothing to do with it, but Axl loved it and had him keep playing it. Izzy Stradlin added some chords, and the song came together. According to Duff McKagan's 2012 autobiography, Slash always considered it the worst Guns N' Roses song.

Slash told Rolling Stone magazine: “It's a combination of influences. From Jeff Beck, Cream and Zeppelin to stuff you'd be surprised at: the solos in Manfred Mann's version of 'Blinded By The Light' video and Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' video

Axl listened to a bunch of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs before recording his vocal. He liked their down-home, genuine sound and wanted to duplicate it on this track.

This won Best Single, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock at the 1989 American Music Awards. The group performed “Patience”; video at the show with Don Henley sitting in on drums for an ailing Steven Adler.

In 1989, this won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Heavy Metal Video.

Guns N' Roses official site / Rolling Stone magazine / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Appetite For Destruction (album)” by Guns N' Roses



● A penguin is the only bird that can swim but not fly.

● Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas are four U.S. state names whose only vowel is “A”.

● TWO VIOLINS, ONE VIOLA, ONE CELLO are the four stringed instruments that make up a string quartet.

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Little Johnny... Substitute Teacher

Little Johnny was walking down the hallway at school.

When he reaches his classroom he looks inside and sees a sub instead of his regular teacher. Johnny sits down and the teacher says, “Now students, my name is Ms. Prussy. Not the other word, this word has an r after the first letter.”

Johnny started laughing. An hour later he forgot her name and said, “Your name has an r after the first letter -- is it Ms. Crunt?”

Pun of the Day

Did you hear the one about the tall wizard who complained he couldn't cast any spells because he was short staffed?