Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 48, 2016

Previous Week   November 28, 2016 - December 04, 2016  Next Week

USSR attacks Finland on November 30, 1939

USSR attacks Finland on November 30, 1939

USSR attacks Finland On this day in 1939, the Red Army crosses the Soviet-Finnish border with 465,000 men and 1,000 aircraft. Helsinki was bombed, and 61 Finns were killed in an air raid that steeled the Finns for resistance, not capitulation.

The overwhelming forces arrayed against Finland convinced most Western nations, as well as the Soviets themselves, that the invasion of Finland would be a cakewalk. The Soviet soldiers even wore summer uniforms, despite the onset of the Scandinavian winter; it was simply assumed that no outdoor activity, such as fighting, would be taking place. But the Helsinki raid had produced many casualties-and many photographs, including those of mothers holding dead babies, and preteen girls crippled by the bombing. Those photos were hung up everywhere to spur on Finn resistance. Although that resistance consisted of only small numbers of trained soldiers-on skis and bicycles!–fighting it out in the forests, and partisans throwing Molotov cocktails into the turrets of Soviet tanks, the refusal to submit made headlines around the world.

President Roosevelt quickly extended $10 million in credit to Finland, while also noting that the Finns were the only people to pay back their World War I war debt to the United States in full. But by the time the Soviets had a chance to regroup, and send in massive reinforcements, the Finnish resistance was spent. By March 1940, negotiations with the Soviets began, and Finland soon lost the Karelian Isthmus, the land bridge that gave access to Leningrad, which the Soviets wanted to control. History Channel / Winter War - Continuation War - Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Finland Wanted To Live / Second World War History World War 2: The Winter War of Finland and Russia - History Channel Documentaryvideo

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - Maritime power projection

(DOD) Power projection in and from the maritime environment, including a broad spectrum of offensive military operations to destroy enemy forces or logistic support or to prevent enemy forces from approaching within enemy weapons’ range of friendly forces. Joint Publications 3-32 (Command and Control for Joint Maritime Operations)

“Dover Beach”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Dover Beach”

The sea is calm to-night,

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; — on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!,

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

This arm beneath your head;

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The sea of faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

~ Matthew Arnold (1865)

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

Mathematical formulae for calculating the relative strengths of a predator–prey pair, originally devised to analyse relative strengths of military forces.

~ Lanchester's laws

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“If you think education is expensive,

try estimating the cost of ignorance.”

~ Howard Gardner

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.”

Meaning: “Don't look at your mistakes; look at what caused you to make the mistakes. Only a fool tests the depth of water with both feet.”

~ 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)

Where Is the Rest of the Universe?

Where Is the Rest of the Universe?

Most of the universe is made up of “stuff” that is invisible, possibly intangible and interacts with other things only via the force of gravity.

Oh, yes, and physicists don't know what the stuff is or why it makes up so much of the universe - some four-fifths of its mass.

They call it dark matter.

So where is this mysterious stuff that makes up such a huge chunk of our universe, and when will scientists find it?

Live Science (10/05/2016) video

How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

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

The breathalyzer or intoxilyzer is a modified IR spectrometer.

Let's talk about alcohol and how it gets into the blood and breath: Alcohol is a general name for a group of organic compounds. Ethanol, the alcohol we consume in alcoholic beverages, is a relatively small molecule. As such it is easily absorbed through the stomach into the blood. Alcohol is volatile and your body is warm. Each time you breathe, a small amount of the alcohol in your blood vaporizes and is passed into the alveoli in your lungs and passed out of your body. The more alcohol you have consumed, the greater the amount that passes out.

Organic compounds absorb infrared radiation (IR) at different wavelengths and have an IR signature. The infrared (IR) spectrometer in the intoxilyzers is calibrated so that it is at the wavelength that ethanol absorbs it.

When you blow into an intoxilyzer, the breath you expire passes into a sample chamber and if you have been drinking then so will some of the alcohol that has passed from your blood to your breath. In the case of the Lion Intoxilyzer 6000s produced by Lion Labs, the machine starts sampling the breath immediately as it starts to enter the chamber and does so 37 times per second. The machine continues to monitor this until you blow a consecutive reading for three seconds. This is so that it is taking the reading from the deep lung air, where the greatest concentration of alcohol is. Once this is achieved the machine will register that a satisfactory sample has been taken. It will then purge itself and move to the next stage (either a second sample or a calibration check).

The breath in the sample chamber is surveyed by a beam of infrared radiation (there is an IR detector behind the chamber). The machine knows the amount of IR that was fired at the chamber and the detector calculates how much has been absorbed. Some clever math works out how many micrograms of alcohol are present in 100 ml of breath. This reading is then displayed.

Some other factoids about the machines: breathalyzers can detect other substances such as methanol, isopropyl alcohol, or acetone. If these are present in sufficient quantities, the machine will register them as an interfering substance and your sample will not be deemed satisfactory.

The breath tube (which you blow into via a single use mouthpiece) is preheated to a specific temperature to ensure that the samples conform to Boyle's law and are consistent and accurate every time.

The machines can detect mouth alcohol. If you have recently consumed alcohol or used an alcohol-based mouthwash, the machine can detect it. The intoxilyzer starts sampling as you start to blow, so it will detect a high concentration of alcohol present at the start of the process, followed by a downward slope (on a graph); this spike tells the machine that there was more alcohol present at the beginning of the sampling process than at the end, and that this must be due to the presence of mouth alcohol.

You cannot cheat or defeat the intoxilyzers by trying to blow down the sides of the mouthpiece, putting your tongue over it, or putting some kind of catalyst (like a copper coin) in your mouth first. The only way to beat it is to not drink and drive!

AttorneysFlaskMental FlossQuoraWikipediaWired

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Blood is Thicker than Water”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Blood is Thicker than Water:”  Meaning: So it is, but this proverb hasn't to do with measures of viscosity. The expression, meaning that family bonds are closer than those of outsiders.

Origin: “Of course, blood really is thicker than water.”

This is first cited in Sir Walters Scott's work Guy Mannering; or the astrologer, 1815:

“Weel, blude's thicker than water; she's welcome to the cheeses and the hams just the same.”

Given Scott's facility for coining new phrases it may well be that this was his own work too.


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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Meat Gazer: Unlucky individual designated to make sure the urine in a “Whiz Quiz” actually comes from the urinator's body. This is accomplished by spending all day meat gazing, or looking at dicks while guys are pissing. Also a man who stares at or is perceived to stare at another man's genitals in a communal shower.

Meat Identifier: A side dish during chow that helps in identifying usually nondescriptive looking main dishes. i.e. Applesauce: Indicative of pork chops, Horseradish: Prime Rib Beef...etc.

“Meatball”: (1) Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System, a visual landing aid used by naval aviators landing on a carrier. Aviators “call the ball” as a reference guide to their positioning in the landing sequence.

(2) The pennant flown to denote the ship has won the Battle “E” competition.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSM-78 - Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron: “Blue Hawks”
Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California / Coronado, California

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


“All I Really Want To Do” - Bob Dylan 1964

“All I Really Want To Do” - Bob Dylan
Album: Another Side Of Bob Dylan
Released 1964 video

This song is a four minute plea to a girl to stay together as friends. The girl appears to think that the narrator wants to progress their friendship, but the narrator continually assures her that “All I really want to do, is baby, be friends with you.” This was likely to have been inspired by Dylan's separation from Suze Rotolo, who he dated between 1961 and 1964.

This formed part of Dylan's acoustic set on July 24, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival. The next day, Dylan would perform again, only this time with a fully amplified band. This sparked outrage among the crowd of strict folk fans, who booed throughout Dylan's performance.

The Byrds video and Cher video both released a cover of this in 1965. This sparked a chart battle between the two artists. In the US, Cher's version proved most popular, peaking at #15 in comparison to The Byrds' #40. In the UK, the opposite was the case. The Byrds' cover version became the fastest selling single in CBS Records' history, peaking at #4 in comparison to Cher's #9.

Another Side of Bob Dylan saw Dylan withdraw from politically charged songs, to instead write on more personal issues. Dylan told The New Yorker at the time of release: “There aren't any finger-pointing songs in here... Me, I don't want to write for people any more - you know, a spokesman. From now on, I want to write from inside me, and to do that I'm going to have to get back to writing like I used to when I was ten - having everything come out naturally.” This new approach to song writing resulted in a great deal of criticism from the folk community, who complained Dylan had lost touch with his audience.

Bob Dylan official site / Rolling Stone magazine / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Wikipedia

Image: “Another Side of Bob Dylan (album)” by Bob Dylan



● The first U.S. President to visit a foreign country while in office was Theodore Roosevelt, who traveled, in 1906, to Panama, to see the progress of the Panama Canal.

● Milk turns sour when what sugar in the milk is devoured by bacteria?

● The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon was the only Ancient Wonder of the World located in Iraq.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

Famous riddle: Forward I am heavy, backwards I am not. What am I?

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

What tale from Greek mythology tells of a sculptor who falls in love with the statue of a woman that he has created? b. What play, based upon this story, did George Bernard Shaw create in 1913, which later became an extremely popular musical comedy?

Answer: a. Pygmalion b. My Fair Lady Wikipedia

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A priest, a minister, and a rabbi want to see who’s best at his job. So each one goes into the woods, finds a bear, and attempts to convert it.

Later, they all get together. The priest begins: “When I found the bear, I read to him from the catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his first Communion.”

“I found a bear by the stream,” says the minister,

“and preached God’s holy Word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him.”

They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast.

“Looking back,” he says, “maybe I shouldn’t have started with the circumcision.”

Pun of the Day

The cat burglar was accused of felineous intent.