Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 21, 2017

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Star Wars opens on May 25, 1977

Star Wars opens on May 25, 1977

Star Wars opens: On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening”, actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake”. Beginning with–in Fisher’s words – ”a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags”, the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away”. By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.

Star Wars was soon a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon. Over the years it has spawned five more feature films, five TV series and an entire industry’s worth of comic books, toys, video games and other products. Two big-screen sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), featured much of the original cast and enjoyed the same success–both critical and commercial–as the first film. In 1999, Lucas stretched back in time for the fourth installment, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, chronologically a prequel to the original movie. Two other prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) followed.

The latter Star Wars movies featured a new cast–including Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen–and have generally failed to earn the same amount of critical praise as the first three films. They continue to score at the box office, however, with Revenge of the Sith becoming the top-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the second worldwide.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Britannica Encyclopedia / The Official Star Wars Website Star Wars opens on May 25, 1977 (YouTube) video

“The Odyssey”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“The Odyssey”

Book IV

They reached the low lying city of Lacedaemon them where they drove straight to the of abode Menelaus [and found him in his own house, feasting with his many clansmen in honour of the wedding of his son, and also of his daughter, whom he was marrying to the son of that valiant warrior Achilles. He had given his consent and promised her to him while he was still at Troy, and now the gods were bringing the marriage about; so he was sending her with chariots and horses to the city of the Myrmidons over whom Achilles' son was reigning. For his only son he had found a bride from Sparta, daughter of Alector. This son, Megapenthes, was born to him of a bondwoman, for heaven vouchsafed Helen no more children after she had borne Hermione, who was fair as golden Venus herself.

So the neighbours and kinsmen of Menelaus were feasting and making merry in his house. There was a bard also to sing to them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.]

Telemachus and the son of Nestor stayed their horses at the gate, whereon Eteoneus servant to Menelaus came out, and as soon as he saw them ran hurrying back into the house to tell his Master. He went close up to him and said, “Menelaus, there are some strangers come here, two men, who look like sons of Jove. What are we to do? Shall we take their horses out, or tell them to find friends elsewhere as they best can?”.

Menelaus was very angry and said, “Eteoneus, son of Boethous, you never used to be a fool, but now you talk like a simpleton. Take their horses out, of course, and show the strangers in that they may have supper; you and I have stayed often enough at other people's houses before we got back here, where heaven grant that we may rest in peace henceforward.”

Book IV continued ...

~ Homer

Written 800 B.C.E

Translated by Samuel Butler

Table of Contents

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“For independent random variables with a common distribution, the average value for a sample tends to the mean as sample size increases.”

Named after Siméon Denis Poisson (1781–1840) and derived from “Recherches sur la probabilité des jugements en matière criminelle et en matière civile” (1837; “Research on the Probability of Criminal and Civil Verdicts”).

~ Poisson's law of large numbers

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Human beings,

by changing the inner attitudes of their minds,

can change the outer aspects of their lives.

~ William James

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“A wise old owl sat on an oak.

The more he saw, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

Why can’t we all be like that bird?.”

~ 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)

Commuters get wiped out by massive Amtrak “avalanche”

Commuters get wiped out by massive Amtrak “avalanche”

Here is the moment an Amtrak train blasted waiting commuters on the platform with a tsunami of snow as it pulled into a station in upstate New York.

The slow-motion YouTube video posted Wednesday shows the train barreling over the snow-covered tracks in the aftermath of Winter Storm Stella, engulfing passengers.

Some Penn Station-bound commuters at the Rhinecliff-Kingston station can be seen taking cellphone videos of the spectacle instead of moving for cover just before they’re hit.

“Train moving faster than usual plus fresh snow from Stella resulted in a more spectacular arrival than expected”, video poster Nick Colvin captioned the clip, which has gotten more than 824,500 views.

Mirror (03/16/2017) video

How Were Roads Cleared Before Snowplows?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Were Roads Cleared Before Snowplows?

America's first settlers were not so well-equipped to deal with the New World's snowy winters. During the 1717 storm (four feet of snow dumped, with drifts of up to 25 feet in some places), only a solitary postman was able to make the trip from Boston to New York. His trick? Abandoning his horse for a pair of snow shoes.

Back then, plowing wasn't in the picture. Instead, residents affixed ski-like runners to their carts to move through the icy streets.

But urban development brought with it streets, and people who needed to get through them. Residents depended on regular deliveries of food and fire wood. When snow made transport impossible, they would dig themselves out in de-facto teams to allow sleigh traffic to pass through. Though ordinances in many cities required homeowners to clear snow off their sidewalks, snow removal was not yet practiced on a citywide basis.

That changed in the 1840s, when the first snow plow patent was issued. According to a wonderfully comprehensive history by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the first snow plow was deployed in Milwaukee in 1862. They write that the plow “was attached to a cart pulled by a team of horses through the snow-clogged streets”.

Over the next several years, other cities adopted the horse-drawn plow, along with a sense that snow removal was a city's problem. As the Data Center notes “the invention of the snow plow initiated widespread snow removal efforts in cities and also created a basis for municipal responsibility in snow removal.”

Of course, with great plowing comes great responsibility. Cities were able to clear main streets, but side streets and sidewalks often ended up blocked off by huge mounds of snow. Again, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, businessmen and townsfolk “complained and even brought lawsuits against the plowing companies ... [claiming] their storefronts were completely blocked with mounds of plowed snow, making them inaccessible to their customers.”

New York handled this by hiring horse-drawn carts and teams of shovelers to work in conjunction with the plows.

However, these advances were no match for the Blizzard of 1888, which paralyzed cities. Some areas saw as much and four feet of snow, trapping people in their homes (or in one tragic case, in a train bound for New York City) for days on end.

But the storm had an upside - it led cities to develop more comprehensive snow plans. Cities began plowing when storms started, rather than waiting until the end of the storm. Officials divided cities into sections and assigned different areas to different plow drivers.

Some cities even tried equipping their electric trolleys with plows, which didn't work so well.

In the early 20th century, the automobile entered the picture, creating new problems and new possibilities for snow plowing. In 1913, New York unveiled the first motorized dump truck (complete with tractor tires), abandoning the traditional horse-drawn cart.

In the 1920s, Chicago unveiled the snowloader, an “ingenious contraption” that “was equipped with a giant scoop and a conveyor belt. As the snow was plowed, it was forced up the scoop, caught by the conveyor belt which carried it up and away from the street into a chute at the top where it was dropped into a dump truck parked underneath.”

The last major innovation to snow removal came mid-century. In 1959, space technology entered the snow removal effort. Satellites allowed for more accurate storm forecasting and quicker preparation.

The Atlantic - CityLabMarketplace.orgMental FlossQuoraWikipedia

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Hell for leather”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Hell for leather”  Meaning: At top speed.

Origin: A horse that had been ridden fast used to be called “all of a lather”.

Over time this got intensified to the more potent-sounding “hell for leather”.

This is probably confusing the issue, but there is a cod “alphabet” in the UK (specifically Cockney I think) which starts “A” for “orses” and includes “L for leather”.

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

P-way: A passageway or a hall.

Package Check (Submarine Service): A common form of greeting where one man shakes another man's crotch. This is done not only to test the 'mettle' of the one receiving the greeting but also as a sign of comraderie. However, ever since hazing became increasingly unpopular over the last few years this greeting has occurred less often. Much more common in the submarine service due to the impossibility of discharge while underway.

Paddles: Code word for the LSO (see Package Check (Submarine Service).

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

Just for you MARINE

Pogue: Marine not of the combat arms (infantry), etymology is disputed: possibly “pogue” derived from the Tagalog word meaning “prostitute” or the Erse Gaelic word meaning “to kiss [my ass]”, while “POG” could be from the acronym Persons Other than Grunt, but could be a backronym.

Poguey or Pogey Bait: Candy or sweets. See also geedunk.

Poguey or Pogey Rope: The French Fourragère authorized for wear by members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VXS-1 - Operational Test and Evaluation Force: “Warlocks”
formerly NRL's Flight Support Detachment Scientific Development, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Drones Are Learning to Land Like BirdsJupiter Is a Jerk - The biggest bully in the solar system has been wreaking havoc since the day it was bornThe Ancient JPEG Is Getting an Upgrade (Because replacing it would be impossible)A Chunk of Earth's Original Crust Has Been Discovered (The potentially 4.3-billion-year-old rock was just discovered in Canada)The Most Gruesome Government Report Ever Written Evaluates 34 Ways to Execute a ManThe Ultimate Gadget Guide For Your Next Vacation - It costs thousands of dollars to travel the world. Make sure you're doing it right

Popular Mechanics

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Fowl Play? Nope, Giant Chicken in Viral Video Is Real

Fowl Play? Nope, Giant Chicken in Viral Video Is Real

Video footage of what appeared to be an exceptionally large chicken went viral on Twitter, gathering tens of thousands of retweets and likes. It prompted exclamations of disbelief and awe, as viewers watched the massive bird navigate down the steps from its coop and strut around an outdoor enclosure.

Shared by @LifesBook_Ceo‏ at 3:23 a.m. local time, the tweet showcasing the chicken did not include any identifying information about either the chicken or its location, but several commenters on Twitter suggested that the bird was likely a Brahma chicken, a large type of domestic fowl known for its size and spectacular plumage - particularly the feathers in the broad fan of its tail and those adorning its legs and toes.

Though it's unclear from the video exactly how big the chicken is, it does appear to have much longer legs and a stockier body than the average barnyard hen, and the splay of feathers around the chicken's feet make them seem almost like massive paws as it paces the pen. [Camera Trapped: Wonderful and Weird Wildlife Around the World]

The Brahma chicken is not a separate species, but rather a breed of the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). It is one of the largest such breeds, with males documented as weighing up to 18 lbs. (8 kilograms), though the average Brahma chicken is closer to 12 lbs. (5 kg) according to The Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

There are three color varieties — light, dark and buff - and the bird in the video appears to be a light Brahma: mostly white, with dark feathers at the tips of its wings and tail and the lower part of its neck. Brahma chickens are frequently referred to as “The King of All Poultry”, and they are famed for their hardiness in cold climates, their production of large eggs and their ample quantities of meat — “a large Brahma could feed a moderate-sized family”, according to The Livestock Conservancy.

Live Science (03/20/2017) video

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


“Bang A Gong (Get It On)” - T.Rex 1971

“Bang A Gong (Get It On)” - T.Rex
Album: Electric Warrior
Released 1971 video

In England, this was called “Get It On (Bang A Gong)”. The title was changed on the American release so it would be less offensive.

This is about sex, but most of the imagery is vague enough that many people did not pick up on it.

This is a great example of “Glam Rock”. There was nothing all that distinctive about glam music, but it was characterized by the outrageous, often effeminate costumes the performers wore and the very theatrical stage shows.

The last line, “Meanwhile, I'm still thinking...” was a nod to a Chuck Berry song called “ Little Queenievideo, which contains the same lyric and inflection.

In the US, this was the only hit for T-Rex. They had several hits in England before glam rock fell out of favor.

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylen sang backup vocals. Known as “Flo and Eddie”, Volman and Kaylen were members of The Turtles.

The band released this a year after they shortened their name. They had been Tyrannosaurus Rex.

After falling from fame a few years after this came out, lead singer Marc Bolan was killed in 1977 when his girlfriend crashed their car into a tree.

In 1985, the “Supergroup” Power Station, which included Robert Palmer and members of Duran Duran, released this as a single. They used the original title on both sides of the Atlantic: “Get It On”

Marc Bolan took his name from Bob Dylan... BO from Bob and LAN from Dylan.

Blondie recorded a live version for their 1978 Parallel Lines album.

T.Rex, official site / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Electric Warrior (album)” by T.Rex



In the 1930's, when asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied “Because That's Where the Money Is....

● Scrabble - Find three 6-letter words that can be formed with the letters AEMRST. (Master, Stream, Tamers, Maters)

● Shakespeare's Birthplace is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his childhood years.

People Who Know Everything

A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BEST” WISHES ($200):

In this “scenario“, you look at the most favorable possibility.

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer The Free Dictionary

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “ANIMAL NAMES” ($600):

Floating in the waters off Majorca, you might find the fried egg this - we don't suggest it for breakfast.

Answer: A Jellyfish. Daily Mail

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Can’t you do anything about this weather?” he asks the Devil.

“I work in sales, not management”, the Devil replied.

Quotable Quotables

“Criminal Minds” Season 1 Episode 2 “Compulsion” opening and closing quotes

Gideon: Faulkner once said, “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”

Gideon: James Reese once said, “There are certain clues at a crime scene which, by their very nature, do not lend themselves to being collected or examined. How does one collect love, rage, hatred, fear…? These are things that we’re trained to look for.”

Gideon: Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.”

~ “Criminal Minds” - “Compulsion” (September 28, 2005) video Written By: Jeff Davis - CBS (from 2005)