Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 12, 2018

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

Lewis and Clark depart Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806

Lewis and Clark depart Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806

Lewis and Clark depart Fort Clatsop: After passing a wet and tedious winter near the Pacific Coast, Lewis and Clark happily leave behind Fort Clatsop and head east for home.

The Corps of Discovery arrived at the Pacific the previous November, having made a difficult crossing over the rugged Rocky Mountains. Their winter stay on the south side of the Columbia River-dubbed Fort Clatsop in honor of the local Indians-had been plagued by rainy weather, thieving Indians, and a scarcity of fresh meat. No one in the Corps of Discovery regretted leaving Fort Clatsop behind.

In the days before their departure, Captains Lewis and Clark prepared for the final stage of their journey. Lewis recognized the possibility that some disaster might still prevent them from making it back east and he prudently left a list of the names of all the expedition’s men with Chief Coboway of the Clatsops. Lewis asked the chief to give the list to the crew of the next trading vessel that arrived so the world would learn that the expedition did reach the Pacific.

The previous few days had been stormy, but on March 22, the rain began to ease. The captains agreed to depart the next day, and they made a parting gift of Fort Clatsop and its furniture to Chief Coboway.

At 1 p.m. on this day in 1806, the Corps of Expedition set off up the Columbia River in canoes. After nearly a year in the wilderness, they had severely depleted the sizeable cache of supplies with which the expedition had begun–they set off on their return trip with only canisters of gunpowder, some tools, a small cache of dried fish and roots, and their rifles. The expedition had expended almost all of its supplies.

Ahead loomed the high, rugged slopes of the Rocky Mountains that had proved so difficult to cross in the other direction the previous year. This time, however, Lewis and Clark had the advantage of knowing the route they would take. Still, they knew the passage would be difficult, and they were anxious to find the Nez Perce Indians, whose help they would need to cross the mountains.

The months to come would witness some of the most dangerous moments of the journey, including Lewis’ violent confrontation with Blackfeet Indians near the Marias River of Montana in July. Nonetheless, seven months later to the day, on September 23, 1806, the Corps of Discovery arrived at the docks of St. Louis, where their long journey had begun nearly two and a half years before.

History Channel / National Archives.gov / National Park Service / Biography / Britannica Encyclopedia / Wikipedia / Lewis and Clark Expedition (YouTube) video

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner

Battlegroup Platforms

Typical platforms found in the battlegroup include:

Carrier (CV/CVN) The carrier’s primary mission is air power projection, either to targets ashore or at sea. The carrier is the center around which the other ships in the battlegroup evolve. CVN indicates a nuclear powered carrier.

Cruiser (CG/CGN) Cruisers attached to a battlegroup primarily perform air-warfare (AW) missions to protect the carrier and other ships from air threats. Cruisers are also equipped with missiles for surface-warfare (SUW), and Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopters for undersea-warfare (USW). CGN indicates a nuclear powered cruiser.

Destroyer (DD/DDG) Most modern destroyers are optimized for a particular warfare task, such as USW, AW or SUW; typically, they also have some capability to conduct the other two as well. DDG indicates the destroyer can fire guided missiles.

Frigate (FF/FFG) TThe main mission of the frigates is USW, although they usually have some capability for conducting AW and SUW. FFG indicates the frigate can fire guided missiles.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

or you yourself will be just like him.”

~ Proverbs 26:4

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Never argue with a fool,

onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

~ Mark Twain

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Arguing with an idiot is like

playing chess with a pigeon.

No matter how good you are,

the bird is going to poop on the board

and strut around as if it won.”

~ 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)

Gigantic wild boar dubbed “Pigzilla” seen rummaging through dumpster

Gigantic wild boar dubbed “Pigzilla” seen rummaging through dumpster

Hong Kong: An enormous wild boar was caught on camera rifling through a garbage dumpster outside a school in Hong Kong. Video of the encounter posted on Facebook has gone viral, with thousands of shares and comments.

The video shows the feral pig standing on its hind legs as three younger piglets standing around the dumpster eagerly awaiting a bite to eat. The adult pig grabs trash bags in its mouth, trying to free the delicious garbage from the confines of the dumpster. The clip cuts off before viewers can see if the beast was successful in its efforts.

Comments on the post, which was uploaded by user Tu Dongdong with a caption that translates to “pig king”, indicate the dumpster was outside a primary school in Hong Kong. The video has been shared more than 4,700 times.

Wild boar are common in the hills around Hong Kong. The beasts can weigh up to 450 pounds and often venture into the city in search of food.

CBS News (02/12/2018) video

What Are Antibiotics Made Of?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Are Antibiotics Made Of?

Most antibiotics are based on natural products synthesized by bacteria and fungi. Quinolones (like Cipro) and sulfa drugs (like sulfamethoxazole) are the major exceptions to this rule.

Antibiotics belong to a class of natural compounds called secondary metabolites. These are molecules that are not essential to normal growth and metabolism (like sugars, amino acids, and nucleic acids) but perform specialized roles. Secondary metabolites enable creatures that can’t move or speak to communicate, control their environments and defend themselves.

Bacteria, plants, and fungi are much better than human chemists at creating complex molecules. These biosyntheses are often accomplished in factories within cells, large complexes of enzymes in which various precursors and intermediates are assembled, modified, and passed on.

What Are Antibiotics Made Of?

Vancomycin, the most commonly prescribed antibiotic in U.S. hospitals, is a good example:

Although total synthesis of vancomycin has been accomplished in labs, I believe that it is still produced commercially by fermentation of the bacterium Amycolatopsis orientalis from which it was first isolated.

The thing to keep in mind about these secondary metabolites is that anything that is made by an enzyme can also be broken down by an enzyme—often the same one that made it. Small tweaks to these enzymes, or just putting them in a different environment, can cause them to degrade antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is thus an intrinsic and inevitable feature of antibiotic use.

Britannica EncyclopediaNational Center for Biotechnology Information.govQuoraWikipediaWhat are antibiotics made of? (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Saltpeter: Chemical supposedly added to “bug juice” aboard ship to stifle libido.

Salt and Peppers: Refers to the old style working white uniform, where the sailor wore a white shirt, and black pants. Today, Salt and Peppers are worn by cooks that work in a ship's wardroom.

Salty: Old and experienced (or simply old and sea-worn, as in “my salty hat”). Can also refer to the traditionally profanity-laced language patterns of sailors.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Tip of the Spear: Term for a unit or subunit that enters enemy territory first.

T/O&E: Table of Operations and Equipment, a list authorizing a unit personnel of a particular rank and MOS, as well as organic equipment; often seen separately as T/O and T/E.

Top: Informal nickname for a Master Sergeant or Master Gunnery Sergeant, inappropriate to use without permission.

Topside: Ship's upper deck.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-41 - “Black Aces”
Naval Air Station Lemoore; Kings / Fresno counties, near Lemoore, California - Established June 1, 1945

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Spill the Beans”

Spill the Beans”  Meaning: To divulge a secret, especially to do so inadvertently or maliciously.

Origin: he derivation of this expression is sometimes said to be a voting system used in ancient Greece. The story goes that white beans indicated positive votes and black beans negative. Votes had to be unanimous, so if the collector 'spilled the beans' before the vote was complete and a black bean was seen, the vote was halted. That's plausible, but doesn't account for the fact that the phrase is first found in the early 20th century. It's probably best if we concentrate our search there and ignore ancient Greece.

'Spill' has been used as a verb with the meaning of 'divulge' or 'let out' since at least the 16th century. Edward Hellowes' Guevara's Familiar epistles, 1574, contains an example of that usage:

“Although it be a shame to spill it, I will not leaue to say that which... his friends haue said vnto me.”

That 'let out' meaning was probably influenced by an earlier meaning of 'spill', that is, 'kill' and the subsequent usage 'spill blood', which was in common use by the 14th century.

The earliest uses of 'spill the beans' come from the USA. The meaning of the phrase was then something like 'spoil the beans' or 'upset the applecart', which harks back to the supposed Greek knocking over of a bean container. The first example I can find is from The Stevens Point Journal, June 1908:

“Tawney, when he came to congress, wasn't welcomed within the big tent. He had to wait around on the outside. Then the blacksmith [Jim Tawney] got busy. He just walked off the reservation, taking enough insurgent Republicans with him to spill the beans for the big five.”

Soon after that the phrase was used with the meaning of 'upset a previously stable situation by talking out of turn', which is close to how we use it today. That is cited in The Van Wert Daily Bulletin, October 1911:

“Finally Secretary Fisher, of the President's cabinet, who had just returned from a trip to Alaska, was called by Governor Stubbs to the front, and proceeded, as one writer says, to 'spill the beans'.”

We have 'spill', meaning 'divulge', but why beans? Well, it could have been almost anything. In fact, there are several 'spill the' variants - 'spill the soup', 'spill your guts', or simply, just 'spill'.

Phrases.org UK

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

What a Spectacle! Praying Mantises Wear Tiny 3D Glasses, for Science

What a Spectacle! Praying Mantises Wear Tiny 3D Glasses, for Science

Putting 3D glasses on praying mantises has opened researchers' eyes to the insects' unusual stereo vision.

Recently, some of the same scientists who created a spectacle in 2016 by outfitting praying mantises with miniature 3D specs went a step further, taking a closer look at how mantises perceive objects in three dimensions.

Whereas prior research demonstrated that mantises could see in 3D - the only known insects to do so — the scientists' new study describes experiments comparing mantises' vision to human vision. The researchers found that mantises arrive at their 3D perception by processing visual information differently than people do - an unusual technique that allows mantises to see some objects in 3D even when humans can't. [Image Gallery: Bug's Eye Camera]

Stereo vision, also called stereopsis, enables some animals — including humans and mantises — to perceive how far away they are from objects. Slight differences in the images of what they see are relayed to the brain and processed into a single image. Those subtle variations in the two original views help the brain pinpoint the object's location in three dimensions, the scientists wrote in the study.

By fitting 3D glasses temporarily to mantises' eyes with beeswax and showing them 3D footage, researchers learned that mantises would respond to 3D video of prey insects by trying to catch them. To better understand how this stereo vision worked, they tested their tiny subjects using vision tests typically given to people.

When people and most other animals use stereopsis, they're comparing the brightness of the two images seen separately by their eyes, in order to visualize 3D space. The mantises, however, are doing something very different: They're focusing on where the brightness is actively changing between the two images, which tells them the distance to their target object even when it is camouflaged against a similar background texture, the study authors reported.

“"This is a completely new form of 3D vision, as it is based on change over time instead of static images”, the study's lead author, Vivek Nityananda, a behavioral ecologist at Newcastle University in the U.K., said in a statement.

“In mantises, it is probably designed to answer the question, 'Is there prey at the right distance for me to catch?'” Nityananda added.

The study's findings suggest that mantises probably can't see in 3D when looking at static images. However, this technique does allow mantises to perform better than humans at detecting the distance to a moving object under certain circumstances, such as when there was a significant difference in brightness between the right image and the left one, according to the study.

Live Science (02/05/2018) video

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


“Sultans Of Swing” - Dire Straits 1978

“Sultans Of Swing” - Dire Straits
Album: Dire Straits
Released 1978 video

This song is about guys who go to a club after work, listen to music and have a good time. They are there for the music, and not for the image presented by the band. The song was a marked change from the waning disco style and the nascent punk movement.

Group leader Mark Knopfler got the idea for song this from watching a lousy club band perform. As the story goes, Knopfler was in Ipswich on a rainy night. He ducked into a bar where a mediocre band was closing out the night to an audience that was maybe four or five drunks unaware of their surroundings. The hapless band ended their set with the lead singer announcing, with no apparent irony,

“Goodnight and thank you. We are the sultans of swing.” Said Knopfler: “When the guys said 'Thank you very much, We are the Sultans of Swing,' there was something really funny about it to me because Sultans, they absolutely weren't. You know they were rather tired little blokes in pullovers.”

This was Dire Straits' first single. It was one of five songs on a demo tape they used to get their record deal. The tape got played on London radio and started a bidding war for the band.

A singer-songwriter from Indiana named Bill Wilson, who died in 1993, claimed that he wrote the lyrics to this song. He would often tell the story in concert, which was recorded for a 24-track CD that was released by a production company which recorded various artists between 1989-1995. One of the tracks is Wilson (identified only as “B. Wilson”) performing “Sultans Of Swingvideo.

There is an asterisk after his name and on the CD it says that this was from a live show performed at The Warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before Wilson plays the song he says the following:

“I do this thing I co-wrote about, I guess, it's been about 12 years ago I wrote the lyrics and a friend of mine used to work a lot of sessions for my old producer, Bob Johnston, and worked a session with this fellow from England by the name of Mark Knopfler. Has his own group over there called Dire Straits. He had this little melody. It sounded like 'Walk, Don't Run.' And he had this little story concerning a band that nobody wanted to listen to. Only a few people show up to hear. So we got together one night after the session and tossed these lyrics around on a napkin and I guess I wound up writing most of the lyrics to the tune. Made enough money to buy a new Blazer that year I remember, so... didn't do too bad. It goes like this...”

Then he starts playing an acoustic guitar, strumming Spanish style and singing “Sultans”. The lyrics are pretty close to what Mark Knopfler recorded but are slightly different. In 2009, this was posted to YouTube video.

It is unlikely that Wilson's account is true. Knopfler has never made mention of him, and Wilson is not credited for any contribution to the song. Also, the timeline doesn't sync: Mark Knopfler didn't come to America until after the album was released. The session work he did in Memphis was in the late '80s and early '90s when he was on a break from Dire Straits.

Regarding the line, “The band was playing Dixie double four time”, Dixie double is a style popularized by Django Reinhardt (and Les Paul in his early years) where the guitar goes quite fast and plays bass as well, all together.

The “Guitar George” and “Harry” who are mentioned in the lyrics are George Young and Harry Vander, who were guitarists in the band The Easybeats. George Young is Angus Young's older brother and Harry and George helped get AC/DC recorded.

Dire Straits official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Dire Straits (album)” by Dire Straits



● Saint Nicholas was a 3rd century Bishop in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey, who is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians, is commonly identified with the holiday season.

● William I, William the Conqueror led the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and was crowned king of England on Christmas Day that year.

● Which plant has the largest seeds? Coconut - they are the seeds.


A Test for People Who Know Everything

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 for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Ocean Portal.edu

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “I'M JUST A SAYING” ($800):

“'Forewarned' is this other 'fore' word, so heed our admonition!”

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

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

“Spanish for 'little gourd', the guajillo is a mild type of these with a heat rating of 2,500 - 5,000 Scoville units.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “SOUNDS LIKE A STAR WARS CHARACTER” ($200):

“Author of 'Acts of the Apostles'.”

● Answer: Luke. Encyclopedia Britannica

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “MAJOR SPORTS TEAMS' NAMES IN COMMON” ($400):

“New York & Texas.”

● Answer: Rangers. NHL / MLB

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BOOK BIZ” ($400):

“This set of proofs that sound like oar-propelled ships come in long vertical columns.”

● Answer: Galleys. Encyclopedia Britannica

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day


An old couple were talking. The wife asked her husband, “How many women have you slept with?”

The man replied proudly, “Only you, Darling,” - “ With all the others I was awake.”

Joke of the Day


The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time.

The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation.

“He's a funeral director”, she answered.

“Interesting”, the newsman thought...

He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living.

She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years. After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her 20's, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40's, and a preacher when in her 60's, and now - in her 80's - a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

She smiled and explained, “I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”