Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 08, 2018

Previous Week   February 19, 2018 - February 25, 2018  Next Week

U.S. flag raised on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945

U.S. flag raised on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945

U.S. flag raised on Iwo Jima: During the bloody Battle for Iwo Jima, U.S. Marines from the 3rd Platoon, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Regiment of the 5th Division take the crest of Mount Suribachi, the island’s highest peak and most strategic position, and raise the U.S. flag. Marine photographer Louis Lowery was with them and recorded the event. American soldiers fighting for control of Suribachi’s slopes cheered the raising of the flag, and several hours later more Marines headed up to the crest with a larger flag. Joe Rosenthal, a photographer with the Associated Press, met them along the way and recorded the raising of the second flag along with a Marine still photographer and a motion-picture cameraman.

Rosenthal took three photographs atop Suribachi. The first, which showed five Marines and one Navy corpsman struggling to hoist the heavy flag pole, became the most reproduced photograph in history and won him a Pulitzer Prize. The accompanying motion-picture footage attests to the fact that the picture was not posed. Of the other two photos, the second was similar to the first but less affecting, and the third was a group picture of 18 soldiers smiling and waving for the camera. Many of these men, including three of the six soldiers seen raising the flag in the famous Rosenthal photo, were killed before the conclusion of the Battle for Iwo Jima in late March.

In early 1945, U.S. military command sought to gain control of the island of Iwo Jima in advance of the projected aerial campaign against the Japanese home islands. Iwo Jima, a tiny volcanic island located in the Pacific about 700 miles southeast of Japan, was to be a base for fighter aircraft and an emergency-landing site for bombers. On February 19, 1945, after three days of heavy naval and aerial bombardment, the first wave of U.S. Marines stormed onto Iwo Jima’s inhospitable shores.

The Japanese garrison on the island numbered 22,000 heavily entrenched men. Their commander, General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, had been expecting an Allied invasion for months and used the time wisely to construct an intricate and deadly system of underground tunnels, fortifications, and artillery that withstood the initial Allied bombardment. By the evening of the first day, despite incessant mortar fire, 30,000 U.S. Marines commanded by General Holland Smith managed to establish a solid beachhead.

During the next few days, the Marines advanced inch by inch under heavy fire from Japanese artillery and suffered suicidal charges from the Japanese infantry. Many of the Japanese defenders were never seen and remained underground manning artillery until they were blown apart by a grenade or rocket, or incinerated by a flame thrower.

While Japanese kamikaze flyers slammed into the Allied naval fleet around Iwo Jima, the Marines on the island continued their bloody advance across the island, responding to Kuribayashi’s lethal defenses with remarkable endurance. On February 23, the crest of 550-foot Mount Suribachi was taken, and the next day the slopes of the extinct volcano were secured.

By March 3, U.S. forces controlled all three airfields on the island, and on March 26 the last Japanese defenders on Iwo Jima were wiped out. Only 200 of the original 22,000 Japanese defenders were captured alive. More than 6,000 Americans died taking Iwo Jima, and some 17,000 were wounded.

History Channel / Wikipedia / National Archives.gov / February 23, 1945: U.S. flag raised on Iwo Jima (CBS News) video

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Iron Mountain Riverboat”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Iron Mountain Riverboat

Many say ship disappearances ware the result of some supernatural force, however it is far more likely that each incident is a case of a big, stormy ocean taking its toll on small, poorly-maintained, or simply unlucky craft. But when a ship disappears without a trace from a river, it’s harder to imagine an explanation. And the legend of the SS Iron Mountain is difficult to explain away.

Here is how her story is usually told. This is an excerpt of the version on paranormal.about.com, complete with the picture that’s most often associated with the SS Iron Mountain:

In June, 1872, the S.S. Iron Mountain steamed out of Vicksburg, Mississippi with an on-deck cargo of bailed cotton and barrels of molasses. Heading up the Mississippi River toward its ultimate destination of Pittsburgh, the ship was also towing a line of barges.

Later that day, another steamship, the Iroquois Chief, found the barges floating freely downriver. The towline had been cut. The crew of the Iroquois Chief secured the barges and waited for the Iron Mountain to arrive and recover them. But it never did. The Iron Mountain, nor any member of its crew, were ever seen again. Not one trace of a wreck or any piece of its cargo ever surfaced or floated to shore. It simply vanished.

Some versions go on to say that ghostly voices can be heard near the site screaming “They’re trying to hurt me! Help!”

The Mississippi River was and is the most important naviagble river in the country. In parts it’s over a mile wide and plenty deep enough to swallow a steam ship. Near the region in question, the present day river is about ¾ of a mile across, but 150 years ago she may have been much wider, especially during flood season. It is conceivable that a ship could have sunk rapidly with no one on shore noticing, especially in a time before radio. It would be unusual for no wreckage or debris to be found. Nearly every part of the ship and its cargo was buoyant. The river was a highway, and one of the dozens of other ships also on the river should have seen wreckage or cargo floating downstream.

The shores in that region were dotted with farms, plantations and towns, with frequent riverboat landings to provide the population with supplies and mail and also to transport cotton and other goods north. Riverboats had regular routes, but stops would be scheduled according to where cargo needed to be. These comings and goings were reported in local newspapers. Because of this, we know that there definitely was a sternwheeler on the Mississippi River called the towboat Iron Mountain. She was launched in 1872, and served for ten years. At 181 feet long, she was a giant, and modern with all steel boilers—the first on the river. This was a ship that everyone on the river would recognize.

On March 26, 1882, the SS Iron Mountain was steaming north from Vicksburg towing five empty barges. After she left Vicksburg, the next reported sighting wasn’t of the vessel, it was of her five empty barges, which had been cut loose and were coming down the river, presenting a hazard to navigation.

Such occurrences were not uncommon. The Mississippi is notorious difficult to navigate as the water level changes and submerged objects shift and can’t be seen. A ship pulling barges would cut them loose if there was trouble. This could include running aground or even having an issue with the boilers. Also, the river was in a flood state so severe, it became known as the “Flood of 1882”. It was the largest flood on the Mississippi in recorded history up until that time. This meant that riverboat captains were steaming blind as any obstructions they'd memorized were now underwater, in a different place, or replaced by other unseen hazards.

The next day as men went to survey the damage, they were surprised that the Iron Mountain had indeed, vanished. An extensive search was conducted and while some small parts of the ship were located downstream, the ship itself could not be found.

It wasn’t until several months later, that her wreck was found. Oddly, it wasn’t found on the river, but in a field on a former plantation called Omega. How did a large sternwheeler get off the river and into a field? As was mentioned, the Mississippi River was flooding. Where the Iron Mountain ran into trouble, the river had broken through a levee near Omega Landing. As the river poured through the levee, so must have Iron Mountain, now miles downstream from where it was originally damaged.

With newspapers reporting not only the sinking, but also the finding of the vessel, how did the legend start? Based on the many stories, it seems that they’re all copying each other. The earliest version of the legend was in the Frank Edward’s book, Strangest of All. Published in 1956, this was Edwards’ second book of embellished stories continuing a tradition established by Charles Forte decades earlier. The book was popular, and it’s possible that he was the originator of the tall tale that has been repeated ever since. Books published as recently as 2010 still report the vessel as “vanished without a trace”.


“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”

~ Albert Einstein.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

To keep our faces toward change

and behave like free spirits

in the presence of fate

is strength undefeatable.”

~ Helen Keller

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Don’t place your mistakes on your head,

their weight may crush you.


place them under your feet

and use them as a platform

to view your horizons.”

~ 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)

This Penis-Shaped Weather Map Aroused A Storm Of Hilarity

This Penis-Shaped Weather Map Aroused A Storm Of Hilarity

A weather map posted on Facebook is arousing all sorts of cheeky comments thanks to the familiar shape of the storm center.

The report on the Gulf Coast Storm Center website suggested the possibility of freezing rain, sleet and light snow.

One woman said, “I’m sick and tired of being promised 6-7 inches and only getting 4!!!” to which another commenter replied, “Well it’s probably because your messing with the wrong weather guy.”

Another guy hoped the storm would prematurely finish and leave people “very unimpressed with the overall experience.”

Other hilarious reactions include:

“If this storm lasts longer than 4 hours, seek immediate medical attention.”

“Tennessee says, ‘Not right now Texas I’m tired.’”

“Don’t expect this storm to pull out quickly...”

“I guess you could say Mother Nature really has a hard on for the gulf coast lately.”

“Storms definitely going to penetrate deep down south.”

“There should always be a warning when it’s more than 6 inches.”

The most philosophical response to the penis-shaped weather map may be one from a woman who wondered how future generations might view it.

“In a few thousand years, some alien historian is going to stumble across this post and read the comments and finally understand, after years of study, exactly how we humans, a clever and able species, managed to let ourselves get caught in another ice age, for we were too busy making dick jokes to flee, and I’m ok with that.”

At the risk of sounding like a dick, it should be noted that penis-shaped weather maps are actually quite common.

Huffington Post (01/16/2018) video

What is a Polar Vortex?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What is a Polar Vortex?

Polar Vortex. It sounds like it could be some sort of alien death-ray or an extremely powerful washing machine, but what does it have to do with cold weather?

A polar vortex is an area of low pressure—a wide expanse of swirling cold air—that is parked in polar regions. The one up north can cause some pretty wild weather and sub-zero temperatures in the United States. But it's not a new thing—this low-pressure system is almost always up there.

Sometimes this low-pressure system, full of cold Arctic air, strays a little bit too far from home. Part of it can break off and migrate southward, bringing all of that cold air with it. Just like that, areas as far south as Florida get to experience their own little taste of life in the Arctic.

The breaking off of part of the vortex is what defines a polar vortex event. But it actually occurs when the vortex is weaker, not stronger. That might sound weird—but it actually makes sense. Normally, when the vortex is strong and healthy, it helps keep a current of air known as the jet stream traveling around the globe in a pretty circular path. This current keeps the cold air up north and the warm air down south.

But without that strong low-pressure system, the jet stream doesn’t have much to keep it in line. It becomes wavy and rambling. Put a couple of areas of high-pressure systems in its way, and all of a sudden you have a river of cold air being pushed down south along with the rest of the polar vortex system.

That’s what happened in early 2014. The polar vortex suddenly weakened, and a huge high-pressure system formed over Greenland. The high-pressure system blocked the escape of all that cold air in the jet stream, and allowed part of the polar vortex to break off and move southward. Places as far south as Tampa, Florida experienced the wrath of this wandering polar vortex. Most of Canada and parts of the Midwestern United States had temperatures colder than Alaska at the height of this cold snap!

It's important to remember that not all cold weather is the result of the polar vortex. While the polar vortex is always hanging out up north, it normally minds its own business. It takes pretty unusual conditions for it to weaken or for it to migrate far south, and other things can cause cold arctic air to travel our way, too.

National Weather Service NOAA.govNational GeographicQuoraScience How Stuff WorksScijinks.govWikipedia

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Roll-em's: Movie night, usually shown in the ready room or the wardroom.

Rollers: Hot dogs.

Rope and Choke: Highly advanced and ultra accurate way the Navy determines the body mass index of people who are deemed too heavy for their height. Consists of an overweight fitness “guru” measuring one's waist and neck.

Ropeyarn: Original-Taking an afternoon off, usually a Wednesday, to take care of personal matters, such as repairing one's uniforms. Today- taking an afternoon off to take care of 'personal matters'.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Swinging Dick: Vulgarity for male Marine, usually used as “every swinging dick” to emphasize an order to a whole group instead of individual(s).

Swoop: Make a long trip in a short period of time, usually in reference to returning to post after liberty, o avoid an UA status.

Sympathy Chit: Voucher sarcastically authorizing the recipient sympathy from others.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-31 - “Tomcatters”
CVW-8 - Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S. - Established July 1, 1935

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Let your hair down”

Let your hair down”  Meaning: To relax or be at ease. Behave in a free or uninhibited manner.

Origin: Parisian nobles risked condemnation from their peers if they appeared in public without an elaborate hairdo. Some of the more intricate styles required hours of work, so of course it was a relaxing ritual for these aristocrats to come home at the end of a long day and let their hair down.

Letting one's hair down was a commonplace part of womens' daily activities in the 17th century. The hair was normally pinned up and was let down for brushing or washing. The term used for this at the time was dishevelling. Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy might now be described as dishevelled but then it applied specifically to hair which was unpinned. The first reference I can find which refers specifically to this is John Cotgrave's, The English treasury of wit and language, 1655:

“Descheveler, to discheuell; to pull the haire about the eares.”

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Air Force Will Lose More Than a Third of A-10s If the Planes Don't Get New Wings - The service seems determined to send the A-10 Warthog to the boneyard.Three Things You Need to Know About Trump's New National Defense StrategyAmazon Is Raising the Monthly Price for Amazon PrimeLearn To Code By Building 14 Different Websites - And it only costs $15 to get started.Scientists Invent a Way to Measure Impossibly Tiny Amounts of LiquidEscape From the Rock: How the only successful Alcatraz prison break in history was torn from the pages of Popular Mechanics.

Popular Mechanics

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Out-of-This-World Diamond-Studded Rock Just Got Even Weirder

Out-of-This-World Diamond-Studded Rock Just Got Even Weirder

A tiny chunk of stone that looks like nothing else ever seen in the solar system might be even weirder than scientists thought.

The Hypatia stone was found in southwestern Egypt in 1996. It was hardly more than a pebble, just 1.3 inches (3.5 centimeters) wide at its widest and a smidge over an ounce (30 grams) in weight. But analysis revealed that the stone (dubbed “Hypatia” for a fourth-century female mathematician and philosopher) fit into no known category of meteorite. Now, a new study suggests that at least some parts of the stone may have formed before the solar system did.

If so - and that is a big “if” - the stone might reveal that the dust cloud that eventually congealed into our solar system was not as uniform as previously believed. [Big Bang to Civilization: 10 Amazing Origin Events]

Oddball discovery

When the Hypatia stone was first discovered, researchers weren't sure where it came from. Because it is studded with microdiamonds 50 nanometers to 2 micrometers in size, one possibility was that it was a strange example of a type of diamond known as a carbonado diamond. But studies in 2013 and 2015 definitively knocked out that possibility: The ratios of noble gases in the stone show that it is most certainly from out of this world. (The diamonds probably formed from the shock when the space rock blasted through Earth's atmosphere.)

Mysterious minerals

In the new study, researchers focused on the minerals in the Hypatia stone. They discovered that the stone itself is not uniform, but consists of a carbon-rich matrix shot through with a variety of minerals. These mineral inclusions are as weird as the rest of the rock, the research team found. They include pure metallic aluminum nuggets, an extremely rare find in the solar system; moissanite and silver iodine phosphide grains; and strange ratios of elements that fail to match the typical ratios of solar system objects. For example, unlike any other solar object ever found, these minerals include a nickel-phosphide compound with very high ratios of nickel to iron.

“There is no known or imaginable mechanism that [this compound] could have been produced naturally in the solar nebula,”

Live Science (01/06/2018) video

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


“Cocaine” - Eric Clapton 1977

“Cocaine” - Eric Clapton
Album: Slowhand
Released 1977 video

This song was written and originally recorded by the Oklahoma blues guitarist J.J. Cale. Clapton gave Cale a huge boost he recorded Cale's song “After Midnightvideo in 1970 and released it as his first solo single. This helped earn Cale a record deal and enough money to make music on his terms, which he did.

Cale recorded “Cocainevideo on his fourth album, Troubadour, which was released in 1976, and issued the song as the B-side of his single “Hey Babyvideo, which was his last charting song as an artist, making #96 U.S.

When Clapton was looking for songs for his Slowhand album, he once again looked to Cale, and chose “Cocaine”, which became the first song on the set. Clapton would later cover Cale's song “Travelin' Light”, and in 2006, the pair teamed up to record an album together called The Road To Escondido.

The lyrics are about drug addiction, something Clapton knew quite well. As he explained in his autobiography Clapton, when he recorded this song, he had kicked a serious heroin habit but was filling his body with cocaine and alcohol. His attitude at the time was that he could manage his addiction and quit at any time - he just didn't want to; that's why he could sing so objectively about a drug that was consuming him. When he finally did get off drugs and alcohol, he had to learn how to make music while sober, which was a big transition as everything sounded very rough to him. He also realized how damaging his addiction was to himself and others on a personal level, and became active in helping others get through their addictions; in 1998 he opened the Crossroads rehab center in Antigua, where clients go through a 29 day wellness-centered approach to treatment.

During the Slowhand sessions, Clapton and his band got to see a J.J. Cale concert, and Cale brought Clapton on stage to duet on this song.

When J.J. Cale wrote this song, he envisioned it as a jazz number. His producer, Audie Ashworth, convinced him to make it a rocker, which required some overdubbing by Cale, since he played very simple guitar parts. Cale did three single-string overdubs of the riff. He played the bass himself, but had session pro Reggie Young play the guitar solo. Clapton's version has a much more complex guitar line and vocals that are more prominent in the mix.

Eric Clapton official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Slowhand (album)” by Eric Clapton



● The Guiness Book reports that the most money anyone ever received for recording commercials was in 1988, when Pepsi Cola paid Michael Jackson $12 million to do four TV commercials for them.

● The name of the smallest citrus fruit comes to us from the Chinese language - KUMQUAT.

● How many months have 31 days? Seven months.


A Test for People Who Know Everything

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

“Both Percival and Indiana Jones had this cup as a focus of their search.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “HYBRID WORDS” ($200):

“Your mechanic loves this word from the Greek for 'self' & the Latin for 'move'.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BOOKS BY CHAPTER TITLES” ($200):

“Of What Happened to the Ingenious Gentleman in the Inn Which He Took to Be a Castle.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “DUCK DAY AFTERNOON” ($400):

“This Looney Tunes duck attributes his constantly being shot in the episode 'Rabbit Seasoning' to 'pronoun trouble'.”

● Answer: DAFFY DUCK. YouTube

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “VICE PRESIDENTS” ($400 DD):

“He was the first vice president to assume the presidency upon the assassination of a president.”

● Answer: Andrew Johnson. History Channel

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “WHO MAKES IT?” ($600):

“Classic Yellow Mustard.”

● Answer: French's. The Kitchn

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day


At Dulac Elementary School, the first-grade teacher, Ms. Clotile, was having trouble with Lil’ Boudreaux, who’s one of her students. The teacher asked, “Lil’ Boudreaux, what’s you problem, you?”

Lil’ Boudreaux answered, “Me, I’m too smart for the 1st grade. My sister Marie Therese, she’s in the 3rd grade and I’m smarter than she is fa sho! I think I should be in the 3rd grade too, me!”

Ms. Clotile had enough. She took Lil’ Boudreaux Principal Thibodeaux’s office.

While Lil’ Boudreaux waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to Thibodeaux what the situation was. The principal told Ms. Clotile “Imma give dat boy a test. If he don’t answer any of my questions he gonna go back to the 1st grade and behave.”

Ms. Clotile agreed.

Lil’ Boudreaux was brought in and the conditions were explained to him, and he agreed to take the test.

Thibodeaux: “What is 3 x 3?”

Lil’ Boudreaux: “Dat’s 9.”

Thibodeaux: “All right. What is 6 x 6?”

Lil’ Boudreaux: “Dat’s 36.”

And so it went with every question Thibodeaux thought a 3rd grader should know.

So Thibodeaux gave Ms. Clotile a look and said, “You might be holdin’ dis boy back. I t’ink you oughta sign him up for de third grade.”

Ms. Clotile was put out. She said, “Not so fast. Let me ask him some questions.”

The principal and Lil’ Boudreaux both agreed.

Ms. Clotile asked, “What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?”

Lil’ Boudreaux, after a moment: “Legs.”

Ms. Clotile: “What you got in your pants that you have but I don’t have?”

Principal Thibodeaux said, “Mais, why you axin’ such a question?”

But Ms. Clotile shot him a look that woulda taken out a six-point buck so kept quiet.

Meanwhile Lil’ Boudreaux replied: “Pockets.”

Ms. Clotile: “What does a dog do that a man steps into?”

Lil’ Boudreaux: “Pants.”

Thibodeaux sat forward with his mouth hanging open.

Ms. Clotile: “What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?”

The principal’s eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer, Lil’ Boudreaux smiled and replied, “Bubble gum.”

Ms. Clotile: “What does a man do standing up, a woman does sitting down, and a dog does on three legs?”

Lil’ Boudreaux: “Shake hands.”

Thibodeaux at this point didn’t know what to do.

Ms. Clotile: “What word starts with an ‘F’ and ends in ‘K’ that means a lot of heat and excitement?”

Lil’ Boudreaux: “Firetruck.”

Thibodeaux breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, “Listen, you. Put Lil’ Boudreaux in the fifth-grade. He done better than me on your test - I got the last seven questions wrong.”