Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 41, 2017

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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 / Columbus reaches the New World (YouTube search) video

“The Odyssey”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“The Odyssey”


Euryclea now went upstairs laughing to tell her mistress that her dear husband had come home. Her aged knees became young again and her feet were nimble for joy as she went up to her mistress and bent over her head to speak to her. “Wake up Penelope, my dear child," she exclaimed, "and see with your own eyes something that you have been wanting this long time past. Ulysses has at last indeed come home again, and has killed the suitors who were giving so much trouble in his house, eating up his estate and ill-treating his son.”

“My good nurse”, answered Penelope, “you must be mad. The gods sometimes send some very sensible people out of their minds, and make foolish people become sensible. This is what they must have been doing to you; for you always used to be a reasonable person. Why should you thus mock me when I have trouble enough already- talking such nonsense, and waking me up out of a sweet sleep that had taken possession of my eyes and closed them? I have never slept so soundly from the day my poor husband went to that city with the ill-omened name. Go back again into the women's room; if it had been any one else, who had woke me up to bring me such absurd news I should have sent her away with a severe scolding. As it is, your age shall protect you.”

“My dear child”, answered Euryclea, “I am not mocking you. It is quite true as I tell you that Ulysses is come home again. He was the stranger whom they all kept on treating so badly in the cloister. Telemachus knew all the time that he was come back, but kept his father's secret that he might have his revenge on all these wicked people.&rdqu

Then Penelope sprang up from her couch, threw her arms round Euryclea, and wept for joy. “But my dear nurse”, said she, “explain this to me; if he has really come home as you say, how did he manage to overcome the wicked suitors single handed, seeing what a number of them there always were?”

BOOK XXIII continued ...

~ Homer

Written 800 B.C.E

Translated by Samuel Butler

Table of Contents

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Don’t hold on to someone who’s leaving,

otherwise you won’t meet the one who’s coming.”

~ Carl Jung

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“One of the tests of leadership

is the ability to recognize a problem

before it becomes an emergency.”

~ Arnold H. Glasow

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)

Remarkable crane video reveals rainbows aren't actually arches at all - they're something else entirely

Remarkable crane video reveals rainbows aren't actually arches at all - they're something else entirely (Prepare to forget everything you think you know about these colourful things)

Rainbows are actually huge colourful circles.

Completely ruling out any chance of a pot of gold at the end of one, a video shot by a crane driver in St Petersburg, Russia, has revealed rainbows have no finishing point.

The reason we all see them as arches is down to the curvature of the earth.

“The circle (or half-circle) results because there are a collection of suspended droplets in the atmosphere that are capable concentrating the dispersed light at angles of deviation of 40-42 degrees relative to the original path of light from the sun”, Mashable reported Physics Classroom as explaining.

“These droplets actually form a circular arc, with each droplet within the arc dispersing light and reflecting it back towards the observer.”

Mirror (07/27/2017) video

Where Is the Hottest Place on Earth?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Where Is the Hottest Place on Earth?

The summer of 2017 will go down as an endurance test of sorts for the people of Phoenix, Arizona. The National Weather Service issued an extreme heat warning, and planes were grounded as a result of temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. (Heat affects air density, which in turn affects a plane’s lift.)

Despite those dire measures, Phoenix is not the hottest place on Earth. And it’s not even close.

That dubious honor was bestowed on the Lut Desert in Iran in 2005, when land temperatures were recorded at a staggering 159.3 degrees Fahrenheit. The remote area was off the grid—literally—for many years until satellites began to measure temperatures in areas that were either not well trafficked on foot or not measured with the proper instruments. Lut also measured record temperatures in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2009.

Before satellites registered Lut as a contender, one of the hottest areas on Earth was thought to be El Azizia, Libya, where a 1922 measurement of 136 degrees stood as a record for decades. (Winds blowing from the nearby Sahara Desert contributed to the oppressive heat.)

While the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) acknowledged this reading as the hottest on record for years, they later declared that instrumentation problems and other concerns led to new doubts about the accuracy.

Naturally, declaring the hottest place on Earth might be about more than just a single isolated reading. If it’s consistency we’re after, then the appropriately-named Death Valley in California, where temperatures are consistently 90 degrees or above for roughly half the year and at least 100 degrees for 140 days annually, has to be a contender. A blistering temperature of 134 degrees was recorded there in 1913.

Both Death Valley and Libya were measured using air temperature readings, while Lut was taken from a land reading, making all three pretty valid contenders. These are not urban areas, and paving the hottest place on Earth with sidewalks would be a very, very bad idea. Temperatures as low as 95 degrees can cause blacktop and pavement to reach skin-scorching temperatures of 141 degrees.

There are always additional factors to consider beyond a temperature number, however. In 2015, Bandar Mahshahr in Iran recorded temperatures of 115 degrees but a heat index—what it feels like outside when accounting for significant humidity—of an astounding 163 degrees. That thought might be one of the few things able to cool Phoenix residents off.

Earth Observatory - NASAForbesLive ScienceMental FlossQuaraWikipedia

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

PPC: Patrol Plane Commander. Usually the senior pilot on a patrol aircraft, having been previously designated a 2P (second pilot). 3Ps are relatively new pilots in a patrol aircraft. No-Ps are pilots who have not qualified for 3P.

Pri-Fly: Primary Flight Control. A room located high in an aircraft carrier's island where the Air Boss and Mini-Boss run all flight operations within a five mile radius of the ship.

PRT: Physical Readiness Test. A sailor is required to perform a certain number of situps, pushups, and a 1.5-mile run in a given time (which varies based on age and gender). Replaced with the PFA.

PT: Physical Training. A required exercise regimen.

The Pubic Mound: USS Puget Sound.

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

Just for you MARINE

Secret Squirrel: Senior Intelligence, the leader of a recruit platoon.

Secure: Stop, cease; or put away and lock.

Semper Fi: Shortened version of “Semper Fidelis”, the motto of the Corps, Latin for “always faithful”. Can be used ironically, as in, “Semper Fi, Mac”, which basically means, “That's the breaks”, or “Too fucking bad”.

Semper Fu: Marine Corps martial arts.

Semper Gumby: Colloquialism denoting tactical flexibility and the ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

Semper I: Colloquialism denoting selfish or self-centered behavior.

Semper Sometimes: Appropriation of Semper Fi used to deride the part-time nature of service in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAQ-141 - “Shadowhawks”
CVW-5 Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan - Established July 1, 1987

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Butter Someone Up”

Butter Someone Up”  Meaning: Flatter; seek a favor by excessive praise.

Origin: An ancient Indian custom involved throwing balls of clarified butter at statues of the gods to seek favor.

It is a transfer from the homely practice of spreading an oleaginous substance on bread. Earlier examples of the figurative meaning can be cited, but the pleasantest one comes from the 'Saturday Review' of July 5, 1884:

“The Lord Chief Justice of England made a tour through America and generously buttered the natives.”

From "Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

“Butter up” was an answer in a crossword puzzle recently - the clue was “Blandish mountain goat”...

To blandish is to coax by flattery, in other words to butter someone up. A goat is something that butts. A mountain goat might be a "butter" up a mountain.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Civilization-Destroying Comets Are More Common Than We ThoughtGE Made a Real 3D-Printed Plane Engine and Here's a Gorgeous Look at ItGoogle's Nuclear Fusion Project Is Paying Off14 Things Learned Driving the Amazing Three-Wheel Vanderhall VeniceToyota Working on Electric Cars That Charge in Minutes for 2022Scientists Hope This Volcanic Island Holds the Answer to Stronger ConcreteThe 5 Best Portable Table Saws TestedOops! Multi-Million-Dollar Missile Test Failed Because a Sailor Pushed the Wrong Button

Popular Mechanics

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Gulls' Love of Baby Seal Poop Leads to Gouged Butts

Gulls' Love of Baby Seal Poop Leads to Gouged Butts

For gulls in Chilean Patagonia, seal pup poop laced with parasitic hookworms is a tasty treat. But the eager birds are snapping up their meals just a little too near to the pups, to the detriment of the seals' tender rear ends, scientists discovered.

During routine exams of the South American fur seal pups (Arctocephalus australis) living on Guafo Island, researchers were puzzled by unusual wounds they found in the young animals' perineal area — around the anus.

Observations later revealed that gulls feeding on the pups' poo approached too close for comfort, jabbing their sharp beaks into the seals' bottoms, and creating gouges that sometimes led to serious infections, according to a new study. [Beastly Feasts: Amazing Photos of Animals and Their Prey].

Kelp gulls (Larus dominicanus) and dolphin gulls (Leucophaeus scoresbii) live alongside the seals on Guafo Island, and feed on seal feces produced by both adults and pups. The seal population in this area is known to be infested with hookworms, a common parasite in fur seals, and while adult seals mostly harbor hookworm larvae, the pups play host to hookworms in their adult forms, which they often expel in their feces.

The researchers discovered that the gulls were eating the parasites, along with the pup poop, and were so avid about it that they accidentally jabbed their beaks into the pups as they ate, according to the study.

“We were basically stealing their food.”

If the gulls had been targeting the seal pups themselves as a food source, the damage to their rear ends would have been much more severe, and more pups would have been affected.

When gulls attack

However, in other parts of the world, gulls do inflict harm on baby seals deliberately, targeting the small and vulnerable young mammals as prey. In a 15-year study of kelp gulls and Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus), researchers recorded about 500 instances of gulls attacking baby seals' eyes. Approximately half of those attempts ended with the gull gouging and devouring the eyeballs, then shifting its attack to the seal's soft underbelly.

Kelp gulls are also known to prey on southern right whales and their calves swimming off the Argentinian coast, pecking and stripping flesh and blubber from the whales' backs when they surface to breathe, researchers reported in 2015. The tissue damage from these gull attacks can be so extensive that it covers 50 to 60 percent of a whale's body.

“As the populations of seagulls increased, it created the problem we're seeing now in Argentina.”

Typically, the Patagonia gulls do not prey on seal pups. But shifting conditions - such as rising ocean temperatures due to “climate change” - could alter the gulls' behavior, which could spell trouble for the animals that share their habitat

Live Science (07/26/2017) video

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


“Pride And Joy” - Stevie Ray Vaughan 1983

“Pride And Joy” - Stevie Ray Vaughan
Album: Texas Flood
Released 1983 video

Vaughan wrote this for his new girlfriend when he was inspired by their relationship. It was released as Texas Flood's first single, and quickly put the then-unknown Texas guitar slinger on the national map.

Stevie played this with Albert King on the album In Session, which was recorded live in 1983.

When Stevie Ray Vaughan was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, his brother Jimmy Vaughan performed this song with Dolye Bramhall II, Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer and Double Trouble in honor of Stevie Ray.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Texas Flood (album)” by Stevie Ray Vaughan



In 1938 the Andrews sisters became the first female recording group to earn a gold record, the German title was BEI MIR BIST DU SCHOEN.

VERMONT was the first state to enter the U.S. after the original thirteen.

Drivers in the Indianapolis 500 motor race cover 200 laps of the course. If a race car driver maintained a speed of 200 miles per hour for an entire lap, it would take 45 SECONDS to negotiate that lap.

A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BASEBALL” ($600): (All of the clues were recorded at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where they were having a very special baseball exhibition.)

No major leaguer will ever again be permanently assigned the number of the jersey worn by this man.

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


From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BASEBALL” ($1,000):

Check out the incredibly rare 1909-11 t206 card of this “Flying Dutchman”; in 2013, one went at auction for $2.1 million.

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer National Baseball Hall of Fame.org

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “WAYS OF BEING” ($800): (Each correct response will begin with a form of the verb “to be”.)

A narrow strip of land; Greece has one of Corinth.

Answer: Isthmus. Encyclopedia Britannica

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Before a Burglary Trial

Before a burglary trial, the judge explained to the defendant, “You can let me try your case, or you can choose to have a jury of your peers.”

The man thought for a moment. “What are peers?” he asked.

The judge explained, “They're people just like you, your equals.”

“Forget it”, retorted the defendant. “I don't want to be tried by a bunch of thieves.”

Quotable Quotables

“Mad Men” Season 6 continued (2007 - 2015)

Don: “Los Angeles is not what you see in the movies. It’s like Detroit with palm trees.”

Roger: “Well, you know what they say about Detroit. It’s all fun and games till they shoot you in the face.”

Don: (To the Hershey executives)

“I was an orphan. I grew up in Pennsylvania in a whorehouse. I read about Milton Hershey and his school in Coronet magazine or some other crap the girls left by the toilet. And I read that some orphans had a different life there. I could picture it. I dreamt of it – of being wanted. Because the woman who was forced to raise me would look at me every day like she hoped I would disappear. Closest I got to feeling wanted was from a girl who made me go through her john’s pockets while they screwed. If I collected more than a dollar, she’d buy me a Hersey bar. And I would eat it alone in my room with great ceremony…feeling like a normal kid. It said ‘sweet’ on the package. It was the only sweet thing in my life.”

Pete’s brother: (On “sparing no expense” to catch their mother’s killer.)

“When you think about it, it won’t bring her back. She’s in the water. With father.”

Pete: “She loved the sea.”

Ted: “Someday you’ll be glad I made this decision.”

Peggy: “We’ll aren’t you lucky. To have decisions.”

~ “Mad Men” - “Mad Men Season 5” (2007 – 2015) video Creator: Matthew Weiner - A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper. AMC