Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 50, 2017

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George Washington dies on December 14, 1799

George Washington dies on December 14, 1799

George Washington dies: George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old.

George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses.

During the next two decades, Washington openly opposed the escalating British taxation and repression of the American colonies. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress. After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England.

With his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers, General Washington led an effective war of harassment against British forces in America while encouraging the intervention of the French into the conflict on behalf of the colonists. On October 19, 1781, with the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ massive British army at Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington had defeated one of the most powerful nations on earth.

After the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and in February 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States.

As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.

In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Mount Vernon.org / Biography / George Washington’s death (YouTube)video

Understanding Military Terminology: Scout of Many Trails (Sea Scout and Boy Scout look at globe with old sailor) ~ Norman Rockwell

Understanding Military Terminology - Military Department

(DOD) One of the departments within the Department of Defense created by the National Security Act of 1947, which are the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force. Also called MILDEP. See also Department of the Air Force; Department of the Army; Department of the Navy..

Joint Publications (JP 3-13.4) Military Deception - Joint Forces Staff College)

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Legend of Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Legend of the Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs

The most common explanation of what ship haunts the area involves two 16th century Portuguese explorers and traders, Gaspar Cort-Real and his brother Miguel, who were seeing a profit trading trinkets with the locals, decided that trading of the locals was a better deal. They invited a group of natives aboard, got them liquored up, chained them below deck and took them back to Portugal to be sold as slaves.

The year following the kidnappings, Gaspar Cort-Real returned to the area for a new load but a welcome wagon of nasty was out to greet him. The locals tied Gaspar to a rock at low tied and had a picnic while watching the rising waters slowly take his life. When Miguel returned to Chaleur to find his overdue brother, he was happy to see Gaspar’s ship at anchor in the bay. When he and his men boarded the ship the locals, who had laid in waiting, attacked Miguel’s men. In a desperate attempt to flee, Miguel set the ship ablaze and vowed, with his last breath that his spirit would roam the Bay of Chaleur “for a thousand years”.

The night was gloomy and dark with a heavy sleet falling and bitter cold wind blowing. The river was many feet above normal, only the tops of the trees growing on the low banks showing above the water. Then came the alarming cry of fire. This cry was screamingly repeated when one person after another made the horrible discovery that the boat was afire. There was an immediate panic.

Another story involved the Battle of Restigouche. The Battle of Restigouche was a naval battle fought during the French and Indian War of 1760 between elements of the British Royal Navy and the small flotilla of French Navy vessels sent to relieve New France after the fall of Quebec. It marked the end of any serious attempt by France to keep hold of their colonies in North America, and it severely curtailed any hopes for a lengthy resistance to the British by the French forces that remained. The carnage on both sides of the naval battle almost ensured that some poor soul would get lost and wander the Bay for an eternity.

Another story is also told of a virgin bride who was abducted and ravaged by a visiting ship’s crew. In retribution for this dastardly act, the culprits found their ship engulfed in flames and their souls doomed to forever sail the waters of Chaleur Bay aboard the fiery vessel.

There are less fanciful explanations of the phenomenon of course. Some believe it is a combination of escaping gases, atmospheric conditions, and changing currents. Local historian W. F. Ganong suggested it was a version of St. Elmo’s Fire.

Who knows the truth? It doesn’t matter, really. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Mysteries of Canada / Wikipedia

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”

~ Tobler's first law of geography.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Doing nothing is very hard to do…

you never know when you’re finished.”

~ Leslie Nielsen

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“The past is where you learned the lesson.

The future is where you apply the lesson.

Don’t give up in the middle”

~ 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)

Woman turns her labia into sparkling jewellery after going through designer vagina surgery

Woman turns her labia into sparkling jewellery after going through designer vagina surgery

You may remember Tracy Kiss as the mum of two with a penchant for semen smoothies and facials.

Last year, Tracy underwent labiaplasty, often known as ‘designer vagina surgery’, to reduce the size of her labia.

Upon the advice of her doctor, Tracy opted to get the protruding parts of her labia sliced off.

But rather than saying goodbye to the remains of her genitals, Tracy asked if she could keep her ‘cut offs’ – so she could turn them into a keepsake.

In a video on her YouTube, Tracy explains that within eight months, the remaining labial tissue had turned grey and crinkled in the surgical fluid, so she decided to use glitter and resin to transform her labia into ‘an empowering pendant to be worn as a fashion accessory.’

‘I kept my labia following my surgery as a trophy of overcoming the pain it had caused me my entire life,’ Tracy told metro.co.uk.

‘I also have my old breast implants too. Unfortunately the surgical fluid they were stored in turned them grey so I wanted a long term option of preservation for which I discovered crystal resin jewellery.’

Tracy says she discovered the art of crystal resin jewellery making thanks to her daughter, who was keen to make her own creations.

‘My daughter is soon to be 10 years old and has never complained about the pains that I suffered during daily life,’ explains Tracy.

Metro (09/30/2017) video

Why Are So Many Blackboards Green?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Why Are So Many Blackboards Green?

Though the term blackboard has a color right there in its name, most of them aren’t actually black. While we still use the term more or less interchangeably with chalkboards, blackboards tend to be green. Why the difference? Why call a surface a blackboard if it's green?

Because 200 years ago, blackboards were black. According to author Lewis Buzbee’s Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom, large boards of connected slates that teachers could write on for the whole class to see didn’t come around until the early 1800s, and the name blackboard wasn’t used until 1815. They were made with slate, or in rural areas, they were often just wooden boards painted dark with egg whites mixed with the remains of charred potatoes. Later, they were also made of wood darkened with a commercially made porcelain-based ink. They were, true to their name, black.

And the relatively affordable, ubiquitous technology was a huge success, changing education forever. By the mid-19th century, even the most rural schools had a blackboard.

As an 1841 teaching manual, The Blackboard in the Primary School, put it: “The inventor or introducer of the black-board system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not among the greatest benefactors of mankind.”

In the 20th century, blackboards began to look a little different, though the idea was the same. In the 1930s, manufacturers began to make chalkboards using a green, porcelain enameled paint on a steel base. By the 1960s, the green chalkboard trend was in full swing. Teachers had discovered that a different colored paint was a lot more comfortable to stare at all day, because green porcelain paint cut down on glare. By and large, many blackboards were slowly replaced by their green brethren. (Apparently, greenboards wasn’t quite as catchy of a name, though, so the term blackboard stuck.)

The AtlanticMentalflossQuaraReader's DigestSlateWikipediaWhy Are So Many Blackboards Green? (YouTube Search) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Raisin: Recruit or junior sailor, predominantly heard at Naval Training Commands. This is used in boot camp to refer to those boots who have received their dungaree uniforms so recently that they haven't been ironed, just washed, they are therefore wrinkled, like a raisin. Usually used by seasoned boots to refer to sailors with one or more weeks less time in service. Fleet equivalent is “Nub”, “Newbie”, or “Hey Shitbird”.

Ramp Strike: When an aircraft gets drastically low while attempting to land on a carrier and strikes the “round down”, or stern of the ship, with devastating results.

RAS: Replenishment At Sea: The act or process of moving cargo and fuel from a supply ship to a warship via cable while underway.

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

Just for you MARINE

SNCO: Staff Non-Commissioned Officer, Enlisted Marines of a rank having a pay grade of E-6 or higher: Staff Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant, Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, Master Gunnery Sergeant and Sergeant Major.

SNCOIC: Staff Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge, a SNCO responsible for a group of Marines, but without the authority of a commissioned officer; sometimes also the senior enlisted Marine acting with the officer in charge. See also NCOIC & OIC

Snap In: Conduct sighting in or aiming exercises with an unloaded weapon.

SNM: Said Named Marine. Used in written communications to avoid having to repeatedly type the Marine's rank and name after the first instance.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VAW-123 - “Screwtops”
CVW-3 - FRS Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia - Established April 1, 1967

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Jaywalker”

Jaywalker”  Meaning: All of it - full measure. To try one’s best.

Origin: Jay birds that traveled outside of the forest into urban areas often became confused and unaware of the potential dangers in the city - like traffic. Amused by their erratic behavior, people began using the term “Jaywalker” to describe someone who crossed the street irresponsibly.

The term originated with “jay-drivers”, people who drove horse-drawn carriages and automobiles on the wrong side of the road, before taking its current meaning.


Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Earth's tectonic plates are weaker than once thoughtGravitational wave detectors could shed light on dark matterGold nanoparticle used to replace virus in new CRISPR approachStudy shows brain response to unfair situations can predict future depression levels in healthy peopleNew efficient catalyst for key step in artificial photosynthesisBats and bugs do battle in the tropicsSputnik, the tiny sphere that launched the space race

Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Cloudy with a Chance of Seafood? Fish Fall from Sky in Mexico

Cloudy with a Chance of Seafood? Fish Fall from Sky in Mexico

The weather forecast for the coastal city of Tampico, Mexico, on Sept. 28 may have called for light rain; instead, it got light rain with a side of fish.

Yes, fish fell from the sky in the northeastern Mexican city, in the southeastern part of the Tamaulipas state, during a light rain, The Associated Press reported last week. Tamaulipas state officials posted photos of four small fish that dropped to the ground during the rain shower. [Fishy Rain to Fire Whirlwinds: The World's Weirdest Weather]

But can the skies actually rain fish? Turns out, they can. Scientists believe that fish - or other small aquatic animals - can get sucked up from oceans or lakes by waterspouts during a storm. (Waterspouts are tornadoes that touch on water.) Then, strong winds carry the critters inland before dropping them down on unsuspecting people.

Fishy rains have been documented around the world, from California to India to England.

Live Science (11/02/2017) video

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


“Don’t Fear the Reaper” - Blue Oyster Cult 1976

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” - Blue Oyster Cult
Album: Agents of Fortune
Released 1976 video

Blue Öyster Cult's first hit, this was written by lead guitarist Donald Roeser, also known as Buck Dharma. He contributed his vocals to this track and also wrote their other Top 40 hit, “Burnin' For Youvideo.

Blue Öyster Cult was considered a “cult” band, somewhere in the realm of heavy metal with complex and often baffling lyrics dealing with the supernatural. Those inside the cult took the time to understand that like Black Sabbath, BOC combined outstanding musicianship with fantasy lyrics, and they weren't for everyone. “Don't Fear The Reaper” exposed them to a wider audience, which was good for business but bad for art. Buck Dharma said in a 1980 interview with NME: “Ever since 'The Reaper' was a hit we've been under pressure to duplicate that success; the body of our work failed. Even on (1977 album) Spectres everyone tried to write a hit single and that's a bad mistake. The Cult is never destined to be successful at a format. To be a singles band you have to win the casual buyer.”

Some of the lyrics were inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. In Shakespeare's play, Romeo swallows poison when he believes Juliet is dead. Juliet responds by taking her own life. This led many people to believe the song was about suicide, but Dharma was using Romeo and Juliet as an example of a couple who had faith that they would be together after their death.

The album features vocals and songwriting from Patti Smith. She was keyboardist Allen Lanier's girlfriend at the time and had also contributed to one of BOC's previous albums, Secret Treaties.

A 2000 Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken made fun of the extremely loud cowbell video in this song. In the skit, the band would get upset when Will Ferrell would play the bell too loud, but Walken kept calling for “More Cowbell”. In the skit, Walken plays a super-producer named Bruce Dickinson, who the band respects enough to put up with his cowbell antics. There really is a Bruce Dickinson (besides the Iron Maiden lead singer), but he didn't produce “(Don't Fear) The Reaper” - that was David Lucas, who also brought us the General Electric “We bring good things to life” and the AT&T “Reach out and touch someone” jingles. Dickinson is an archivist who works on album reissues, which means gathering master tapes to ensure the best sound quality. He is credited as the reissue producer on a later version of the album, which apparently is how he was named in the sketch.

Lucas and Dickinson both appeared on the Just My Show podcast, and Lucas explained that the cowbell was his idea, as the song “needed some momentum”. He grabbed a cowbell from a nearby recording studio and “just played four on the floor… not hard to do.” He found out about the SNL skit when a friend instant messaged him as it was airing.

Dickinson says he's always felt a little funny about getting the producer role in the famous skit, but it has made life more interesting. Said Dickinson, “I work with Iggy Pop on a lot of stuff and a lot of times when he calls and I pick up the phone, he goes 'More cowbell!'”

This has been used in several horror movies, including Halloween, The Frighteners and Scream. It was also used in a very non-horror capacity in the party scene of the Disney movie Miracle, which is about the U.S. Hockey team beating the USSR at the 1980 Olympic Games.

Stephen King quoted the lyrics to this song in his novel The Stand, in which 99.9% of the U.S. population is killed by a manmade disease called “Superflu”.

Blue Oyster Cult, official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Agents of Fortune (album)” by Blue Oyster Cult



The Parthenon was built around 440 B.C. dedicated to the goddess Athena, located on the hill Acropolis.

Maine is the only U.S. state with a one-syllable name.

Two cities are the capital and the seat of government of the Netherlands: The legal capital is Amsterdam, the actual seat of government and residence of the monarchy is The Hague.

A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THINGS TO DO BEFORE” ($200):

“'Scorching' word for qualifying rounds in a track contest held before the main race.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer USMS.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THINGS TO DO BEFORE” ($400):

“'Seasonal' verb meaning to prepare a car for cold weather by adding antifreeze, or to prep a house, using insulation.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OPERATIC ADJECTIVES” ($200):

“Term for a sports team that wins several championships in a row, like the Bulls in the 1990s.”

Answer: The Flying Dutchman. Telegraph UK

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

“Set in California: 'The Girl of the ____ West'.”

Answer: The Girl of the Golden West NOVA billings.org

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Johnny isn't paying attention

A teacher is teaching a class and she sees that Johnny isn't paying attention, so she asks him, “If there are three ducks sitting on a fence, and you shoot one, how many are left?”

Johnny says, “None.”

The teacher asks, “Why?.”

Johnny says, “Because the shot scared them all off.”

The teacher says “No, two, but I like how you're thinking.”

Johnny asks the teacher, “If you see three women walking out of an ice cream parlor, one is licking her ice cream, one is sucking her ice cream, and one is biting her ice cream, which one is married?”

The teacher says, “The one sucking her ice cream.”

Johnny says, “No, the one with the wedding ring, but I like how you're thinking!”

Quotable Quotables

“Frasier” (1993 - 2004)

Martin Crane: “I call him 'Eddie Spaghetti'.”

Martin Crane: “Well, I've got news for him. I've got the guts. I've got twice the guts he has, and after his surgery tomorrow, I'll have four times the guts!”

Martin Crane: “I do! When those ballet guys start flying around in those tight pants, I don't know where to look!!”

Daphine Moon: “I took his note, read it, and to this day, I can remember just what I said to that Man: 'That's not how you spell ‘fellatio'.”

Daphine Moon: “Well, maybe if I had a go at it. You know, in the past year and a half I've come to have a pretty good understanding of how the Crane mind works - when it works!”

Frasier Crane: “Right, that's easy for you to say. You're not the one jumping into the Rottweiler pit with a pork chop around your neck!”

Dr.Niles Crane: “Hello! This is Dr. Niles Crane again and no, we haven't taken leave of our senses. That bit of inspired lunacy you heard just before the commercial was just a little docudrama Frasier and I put together on the dangers of over-medication. Bravo, Frasier, for so brilliantly demonstrating why they call it dope!”

~ “Frasier” (1993 - 2004) video Creators: David Angell, Peter Casey, David Lee