Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 36, 2018

Previous Week   September 03, 2018 - September 09, 2018  Next Week

World’s first submarine attack on September 07, 1776

World’s first submarine attack on September 07, 1776

World’s first submarine attack: On this day in 1776, during the Revolutionary War, the American submersible craft Turtle attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship Eagle in New York Harbor. It was the first use of a submarine in warfare.

Submarines were first built by Dutch inventor Cornelius van Drebel in the early 17th century, but it was not until 150 years later that they were first used in naval combat. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.

Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle.

During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was really able to competently execute the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British.

Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an Army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cereberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Connecticut History.org / NavSource (Naval History).org / NAVY Life Official Blog of the U.S. Navy / Breeds Hill Institute.org First Combat Submarine The “Turtle” - 1776 (YouTube search) video

The Blitz begins on September 07, 1940

The Blitz begins on September 07, 1940

The Blitz begins: On this day in 1940, 300 German bombers raid London, in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. This bombing “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) would continue until May 1941.

After the successful occupation of France, it was only a matter of time before the Germans turned their sights across the Channel to England. Hitler wanted a submissive, neutralized Britain so that he could concentrate on his plans for the East, namely the land invasion of the Soviet Union, without interference. Since June, English vessels in the Channel had been attacked and aerial battles had been fought over Britain, as Germany attempted to wear down the Royal Air Force in anticipation of a land invasion. But with Germany failing to cripple Britain’s air power, especially in the Battle of Britain, Hitler changed strategies. A land invasion was now ruled out as unrealistic; instead Hitler chose sheer terror as his weapon of choice.

British intelligence had had an inkling of the coming bombardment. Evidence of the large-scale movement of German barges in the Channel and the interrogation of German spies had led them to the correct conclusion-unfortunately, it was just as the London docks were suffering the onslaught of Day One of the Blitz. By the end of the day, German planes had dropped 337 tons of bombs on London. Even though civilian populations were not the primary target that day, the poorest of London slum areas-the East End–felt the fallout literally, from direct hits of errant bombs as well as the fires that broke out and spread throughout the vicinity. Four hundred and forty-eight civilians were killed that afternoon and evening.

A little past 8 p.m., British military units were alerted with the code name “Cromwell”, meaning the German invasion had begun. A state of emergency broke out in England; even home defense units were put to the ready. One of Hitler’s key strategic blunders of the war was to consistently underestimate the will and courage of the British people. They would not run or be cowed into submission. They would fight.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / World War Two Daily.Film Inspector / BBC / The Guardian The Blitz Begins - 1940 (YouTube search) video

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

Understanding Military Terminology - Mission-oriented protective posture gear

(DOD) A Military term for individual protective equipment including suit, boots, gloves, mask with hood, first aid treatments, and decontamination kits issued to military members. Also called MOPP gear See also Decontamination; mission-oriented protective posture.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI 3180.01)

Marseille Rade: Florent Chabaud - Olympus Camedia C-2040Z Marseilles' Roadstead, Vallon des Auffes, Frioul Islands

The Old Salt’s Corner


A roadstead is a body of water sheltered from rip currents, spring tides or ocean swell outside a harbor where ships can lie reasonably safely at anchor without dragging or snatching while waiting for their turn to enter a port of call. It can be open or natural, usually - estuary-based, or may be created artificially.

In maritime law, a “known general station for ships, notoriously used as such, and distinguished by the name”. Charts and nautical publications often use roads rather than roadsteads; 'Roads' is the earlier term.

In the days of sailing ships, some voyages could only easily be made with a change in wind directionnge of wind in a safe anchorage, such as the Downs or Yarmouth Roads. Daniel Defoe has Robinson Crusoe recall of an early journey in the coastal trade:

“The sixth day of our being at sea we came into Yarmouth Roads; the wind having been contrary, and the weather calm, we had made , and ships would wait for a chabut little way since the storm. Here we were obliged to come to an anchor, and here we lay, the wind continuing contrary, viz., at southwest, for seven or eight days, during which time a great many ships from Newcastle came into the same Roads...”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose,

not the powers they are graced with.”

~ Brodi Ashton

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“A man should never be ashamed

to own that he has been in the wrong,

which is but saying…

that he is wiser today than yesterday.”

~ Jonathan Swift

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Mistakes are a great educator

when one is honest enough to admit them

and willing to learn from them.”

~ 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)

Police in Germany rescue man being chased by baby squirrel

Police in Germany rescue man being chased by baby squirrel

German police have rescued a man after he called for help saying a baby squirrel would not leave him alone.

Emergency services received a call on Thursday from the man, who claimed he was being chased down the street by the tiny animal.

Police in Karlsruhe said the unnamed man called them in desperation after he was unable to shake off the small rodent.

Officers sent a patrol car out to investigate and arrived to find the chase still in full flow. But the drama ended suddenly when the squirrel, apparently exhausted by its exertions, lay down abruptly and fell asleep.

Officers took pity on the animal, which had probably become separated from its mother. Police said it likely targeted the man because it was in search of a new home.

“t often happens that squirrels which have lost their mothers look for a replacement and then focus their efforts on one person”, said Christina Krenz, a police spokeswoman.

She said the animals could be “very persistent, not just running behind someone, but entirely fixated on them. It can be pretty scary. The man didn’t know what to do and so he called the police. He was certainly feeling a bit threatened.”

But police on the scene appeared more amused than alarmed.

“A squirrel will be our new mascot, it will be christened Karl-Friedrich”, said the police write-up. “The squirrel has fallen asleep in fright.”

Krenz said: “It was just a bit of fun. The officers thought up a name that would suit the baby squirrel.”

Officers took the sleeping Karl-Friedrich into police custody, and then to an animal rescue centre, where it was said to be doing well.

Krenz said the rescue centre was looking after two other abandoned baby squirrels brought in on the same day for similar reasons, though theirs was the only case in which police have had to intervene.

The Guardian (08/10/2018) video

Happy Labor Day!

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, and Labor Day 2018 occurs on Monday, September 3 (it’s traditionally observed on the first Monday in September). It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

“What does labor want? Labor wants more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” So said Samuel Gompers, founder of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881. On the day that we honor working men and women, let's revisit the origins of Labor Day.

Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday”, celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it.Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

The Pullman Strike: June 26, 1894 - American Railroad Union led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars

Pullman Strike: On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified.

Many credit Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.

Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.

Encyclopedia BritannicaBusiness InsiderDepartment Of LaborHistoryQuoraSmithsonianWikipedia Labor Day Holiday History (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

4 acres of sovereign U.S. soil: An aircraft carrier.

5MC: A circuit similar to the 1MC, except that it is only heard on the flight deck of an air-capable ship and in engineering spaces. It is EXTREMELY loud to overcome the jet noise on the flight deck. Do not stand near one of the speakers without hearing protection.

8 (or) 6 boat: Preferred term by Amphib sailors for LCM-8 or LCM-6 boats, as opposed to “Mike” boat.

90 Day Wonder, 90 Day Miracle: OCS graduate (as opposed to a graduate of four-year Naval Academy or ROTC training).

96er: A period of five nights and four days off of work due to special liberty or holiday. Very rarely occurs due to duty.

180° Amnesia: Occurs when a sailor has been deployed and selective memory is desired to deal with questions asked by his or her significant other. “Whatever happens on WESTPAC stays on WESTPAC”

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

5.56 hickey: A scar or blister resulting from a burn suffered (usually on the neck) due to hot brass.

7 Day Store/Troop Store/Mini P: Convenience store (Mini-P denotes a “mini” or smaller sized version of the PX, or Post-Exchange).

8 bells: Signal for the end of a four-hour watch, so named for the increase in bell strike each half-hour of the watch.

8th & I: Nickname for Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. so named from its street address at the corner of 8th and I Streets SE.

Deuce Gear: Standard issue web gear, combat gear, or field equipment, such as ALICE, MOLLE, or ILBE. Named after standard Marine Corps Form 782, which Marines formerly signed when they took custody of and responsibility for their equipment.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192) - nicknamed the “Golden Dragons”
Naval Air Station Lemoore, California - Established March 26, 1945

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Basket case”

Basket case:”  Meaning: An infirm or failing person or thing - unable to function properly. Originally this referred to soldiers who had lost arms and legs and had to be carried by others. More recently it has been used to denounce a failing organisation or scheme and is less often applied to people.

History: In its original meaning this term comes from the U.S. military immediately following WWI. Strangely, it was never used to describe an actual person but only in denial of any such servicemen existing. This bulletin was issued by the U.S. Command on Public Information in March 1919, on behalf of Major General M. W. Ireland, the U.S. Surgeon General:

“The Surgeon General of the Army ... denies ... that there is any foundation for the stories that have been circulated ... of the existence of 'basket cases' in our hospitals.”

This bulletin was reported on in many U.S. newspapers at the time. Many of them also defined what was meant by 'basket case'; for example, this from the New York paper The Syracuse Herald, March 1919:

“By 'basket case' is meant a soldier who has lost both arms and legs and therefore must be carried in a basket.”

Given that the term was originally reserved for incapacitated servicemen, there wasn't much call for it until the next major war of English-speaking peoples - WWII. Again, it comes from the U.S. military and again in the form of a denial from the Surgeon General. In May 1944, in Yank, the Army Weekly, the then Surgeon General, Major General Norman T. Kirk, said:

“... there is nothing to rumors of so-called 'basket cases' - cases of men with both legs and both arms amputated.”

Clearly, given the scale of the casualties in both wars, there must have been cases of multiple amputation. It isn't recorded what term the U.S. Surgeon General used to describe these - clearly not 'basket case'.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

From Death Traps to Disneyland: The 600-Year History of the Roller Coaster - Rides may be faster and taller over the centuries, but the rules of physics still applyNASA Is Launching a Submarine to the SeafloorThe Army’s XM-25 'Punisher' Supergun Is Dead - A weapon isn’t a superweapon if nobody wants to use itHow to Make Beer at Home: The Brewing Guide - If you like beer and you like making stuff, then you'll love making beer - Here's how to get startedNew Horizons Detects Possible Hydrogen Wall at the Edge of the Solar System

Popular Mechanics

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Brainy Crows Trained to Pick Up Trash at Theme Park

Brainy Crows Trained to Pick Up Trash at Theme Park

A team of trained birds will really clean up at a French theme park, where they will collect and discard cigarette butts and other bits of trash.

Six rooks - a type of bird in the crow family, native to Europe and parts of Scandinavia and Asia - are expected to get to work this week picking up litter at Puy du Fou, a park that features period villages and gardens, as well as historic re-enactments, performances and events, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

The avian trash collectors were raised in captivity and trained by Christophe Gaborit, a falconer and project manager with the park's Academy of Falconry, so you might say that the birds got their job through crow-nyism. [Creative Creatures: 10 Animals That Use Tools]

Brainy Crows Trained to Pick Up Trash at Theme Park

Gaborit was inspired to recruit the rooks (Corvus frugilegus) by something he saw 20 years ago: a group of wild ravens sifting through natural litter in a field, Puy du Fou representatives wrote in a blog post. If corvids — the family that includes crows, ravens and rooks - were already inclined to sort materials in their habitat, perhaps they could be trained to identify and discard litter left behind by humans, Gaborit explained in the post.

He raised and trained his first pair of trash-collecting rooks in 2000, with a little help from a special cabinet - when the birds deposited trash in the drawer, a second compartment would be opened to reward them with a tasty treat, according to the blog post. Repeating this action led the rooks to associate rubbish removal with food, though they would sometimes try to trick their trainer by dropping bits of wood in the box, Gaborit said.

While a winged cleanup crew may not be the most efficient method for keeping a large park litter-free, the sight of the busy rooks will hopefully teach visitors to be more careful about where they dispose of their trash, according to the blog.

Live Science (08/13/2018) video

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


“Born To Run” - Bruce Springsteen 1975

“Born To Run” - Bruce Springsteen
Album: Born To Run
Released 1975 video

Bruce Springsteen played this for the first time on May 9, 1974 when he opened for Bonnie Raitt at Harvard Square. Rock critic Jon Landau was at the show and wrote in Boston's Real Paper: “I saw rock and roll's future - and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Landau eventually became Springsteen's manager.

Allan Clarke from The Hollies released a cover version video a year before Springsteen released his.

This was the first song Springsteen wrote for a studio production, rather than a live performance. After recording four versions (one with a female chorus) at the low-budget studio where he recorded his first two albums, he moved to a higher end studio to finish it, refusing to release it until it was just right.

Springsteen wrote the lyrics in his Long Branch, New Jersey, home in early 1974. "One day I was playing my guitar on the edge of the bed, working on some song ideas, and the words 'born to run' came to me," he recalled. "At first I thought it was the name of a movie or something I'd seen on a car spinning around the circuit. I liked the phrase because it suggested a cinematic drama that I thought would work with the music that I'd been hearing in my head."

In the liner notes to his Greatest Hits album, Springsteen wrote: “My shot at the title. A 24 yr. old kid aimin' at 'The greatest rock 'n roll record ever.'”

Many of Springsteen's songs mention girls by name; in this one the heroine is Wendy. He explained that these ladies are composites of different people he knew.

Springsteen chose this as the album title after rejecting several other names, including War And Roses, The Hungry and The Hunted, American Summer, and Sometimes At Night.

“This is a song that has changed a lot over the years. As I've sung it, it seems to have been able to open up and let the time in. When I wrote it, I was 24 years old, sitting in my bedroom in Long Branch, New Jersey. When I think back, it surprises me how much I knew about what I wanted, because the questions I ask myself in this song, it seems I've been trying to find the answers to them ever since. When I wrote this song, I was writing about a guy and a girl that wanted to run and keep on running, never come back. That was a nice, romantic idea, but I realized after I put all those people in all those cars, I was going to have to figure out someplace for them to go, and I realized in the end that individual freedom, when it's not connected to some sort of community, can be pretty meaningless. So, I guess that guy and that girl out there were looking for connection, and I guess that's what I'm doing here. So, this is a song about two people trying to find their way home. It's kept me good company on my search, and I hope it keeps you good company on yours.”

Springsteen knew he had to write more mature songs as he got older if he was going to extend his career. He explained in a 2005 interview with National Public Radio: “'Born To Run' was the song of my youth. Now I have to write something else. I became attracted to country music and older blues and folk because they bring the same intensity to adult issues and adult problems. And I thought, this is a lifetime job for me. I want to write songs I can sing at that great advanced age of 40 years old.”

A page of Bruce Springsteen's early lyrics for this song etched in blue ink on a notepad page sold for $197,000 at an auction in New York on December 5, 2013. At this stage, Springsteen had the line "'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run' fully written. Other lyrics visible, including, “this town'll rip the bones from your back” and “it's a suicide trap” were slightly altered on the finished song.

Bruce Springsteen official site / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Bruce Springsteen

Image: “Born To Run (album)” by Bruce Springsteen



● How soon we forget: Which movie won the Academy Award as Best Film of 1996? Which person starred in and directed the film?

BRAVEHEART / Mel Gibson.

● Many historians believe that World War II in the Pacific region began on July 7, 1937, when Japan invaded what country?


● a. What tale from Greek mythology tells of a sculptor who falls in love with the statue of a woman that he has created? b. What play, based upon this story, did George Bernard Shaw create in 1913, which later became an extremely popular musical comedy?

a. Pygmalion b. My Fair Lady.

● The era of modern technology was launched in the early 1940's when the first electronic computer, weighing 30 tons and using 17,000 vacuum tubes, was built at the University of Pennsylvania. What was the five letter name of this first computer?



A Test for People Who Know Everything

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

“The 451 A.D. Battle of the Catalaunian Plains was the only time this Hun went home a loser.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “MILITARY MEMORIES” ($400):

“In December 1776 Washington's surprise attack on this now - N.J. capital did not lose a single man & captured 900-plus.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “MILITARY MEMORIES” ($800):

“Octavian sank the forces of this man 8 ways to Sunday to win the 31 B.C. naval Battle of Actium.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “'ARCH' MADNESS” ($200):

“This laundry substance made possible the Elizabethan fancy collar called a ruff.”

● Answer: Starch. Encyclopedia Britannica

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “'ARCH' MADNESS” ($400):

“The nock & the upshot are part of its vocabulary.”

● Answer: Archery. Encyclopedia Britannica

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “'ARCH' MADNESS” ($600):

“An advisor to Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant to hold this exalted position.”

● Answer: Archbishop of Canterbury. Encyclopedia Britannica

Labor Day News Podcasts