Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 38, 2018

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The Superfortress takes flight on September 07, 1940

The Superfortress takes flight on September 21, 1942

The Superfortress takes flight: On this day in 1942, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress makes its debut flight in Seattle, Washington. It was the largest bomber used in the war by any nation.

The B-29 was conceived in 1939 by General Hap Arnold, who was afraid a German victory in Europe would mean the United States would be devoid of bases on the eastern side of the Atlantic from which to counterattack. A plane was needed that would travel faster, farther, and higher than any then available, so Boeing set to creating the four-engine heavy bomber. The plane was extraordinary, able to carry loads almost equal to its own weight at altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet. It contained a pilot console in the rear of the plane, in the event the front pilot was knocked out of commission. It also sported the first radar bombing system of any U.S. bomber.

The Superfortress made its test run over the continental United States on September 21, but would not make its bombing-run debut until June 5, 1944, against Bangkok, in preparation for the Allied liberation of Burma from Japanese hands. A little more than a week later, the B-29 made its first run against the Japanese mainland. On June 14, 60 B-29s based in Chengtu, China, bombed an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. While the raid was less than successful, it proved to be a morale booster to Americans, who were now on the offensive.

Meanwhile, the Marianas Islands in the South Pacific were being recaptured by the United States, primarily to provide air bases for their new B-29s—a perfect position from which to strike the Japanese mainland on a consistent basis. Once the bases were ready, the B-29s were employed in a long series of bombing raids against Tokyo. Although capable of precision bombing at high altitudes, the Superfortresses began dropping incendiary devices from a mere 5,000 feet, firebombing the Japanese capital in an attempt to break the will of the Axis power. One raid, in March 1945, killed more than 80,000 people.

But the most famous, or perhaps infamous, use of the B-29 would come in August, as it was the only plane capable of delivering a 10,000-pound bomb—the atomic bomb. The Enola Gay and the Bock’s Car took off from the Marianas, on August 6 and 9, respectively, and flew into history.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Boeing / Air Power Squadron.org / Pima Air and Space Museum.org Crawl through a B-29 Superfortress IN FLIGHT! + Real-Time procedures / ATC - Oshkosh AirVenture! (YouTube search) video

Benedict Arnold commits treason on September 21, 1780

Benedict Arnold commits treason on September 21, 1780

Benedict Arnold commits treason: On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor”.

Arnold was born into a well-respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, on January 14, 1741. He apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775. When the war ended in 1783, the colonies had won their independence from Britain and formed a new nation, the United States.

During the war, Benedict Arnold proved himself a brave and skillful leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then participating in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in 1777, five men of lesser rank were promoted over him. Over the course of the next few years, Arnold married for a second time and he and his new wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, accumulating substantial debt. The debt and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were motivating factors in his choice to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River in New York (and future home of the U.S. military academy, established in 1802). Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men. On September 21 of that year, Arnold met with Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. He died in London on June 14, 1801.>

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Smithsonian / U.S. History.org Benedict Arnold commits treason on September 21, 1780 (YouTube search) video

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Washington (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner

Limber Hole

A limber hole is a drain hole through a frame in a boat designed to prevent water from accumulating against one side of the frame. Limber holes are common in the bilges of wooden boats.

In modern armored warfare, hull-down is a position taken up by an armored fighting vehicle (AFV) so that its hull (the main part of the vehicle) is behind a crest or other raised ground, but its turret (or a superstructure or roof-mounted weapon) is exposed. Turret-down is the position in which the vehicle's crew can observe forward from roof hatches, but the vehicle is completely hidden (usually a few meters further back from a hull-down position). The belly armor should not be exposed, because it is vulnerable to even modest antitank weapons.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear,

but the capacity to act despite our fears.”

“No just cause is futile,

even if it’s lost,

if it helps make the future better than the past.”

~ John McCain

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Peace is not absence of conflict

it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.

It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

~ Ronald Reagan

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“We are made strong by the difficulties we face

not by those we evade.”

“A real leader faces the music,

even when he doesn't like the tune.”

~ 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)

Shocking moment a massive black bear wanders through the lobby of The Stanley Hotel that inspired Stephen Kings's The Shining

Shocking moment a massive black bear wanders through the lobby of The Stanley Hotel that inspired Stephen Kings's The Shining

A massive black bear was caught on video wandering through the lobby of the Colorado hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.

The front desk supervisor at The Stanley Hotel captured the nail-biting moment on video.

In the clip, the bear is seen standing on top of a table in the hotel's lobby as the terrified employee stands silently behind the desk.

Within moments the bear is on the go again as it climbs off the table and walks past the hotel employee.

At one point the bear stops and stares at the desk supervisor before walking away.

The Stanley Hotel vice president Reed Rowley told KDVR-TV that 300 guests were sound asleep as the bruin figured out how to open the door and climbed over the furniture.

Daily Mail - Associated Press (08/24/2018) video

Can You Really Suck the Poison Out of a Snakebite?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Can You Really Suck the Poison Out of a Snakebite?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 5.4 million people are bitten by snakes each year worldwide, about 81,000 to 138,000 of which are fatal. That’s a lot of deaths that could have been prevented if the remedy were really that simple.

Unfortunately the “cut and suck” method was discredited a few decades ago, when research proved it to be counterproductive. Venom spreads through the victim’s system so quickly, there’s no hope of sucking out a sufficient volume to make any difference. Cutting and sucking the wound only serves to increase the risk of infection and can cause further tissue damage. A tourniquet is also dangerous, as it cuts off the blood flow and leaves the venom concentrated in one area of the body. In worst-case scenarios, it could cost someone a limb.

Today, it's recommended not to touch the wound and seek immediate medical assistance, while trying to remain calm (easier said than done). The Mayo Clinic suggests that the victim remove any tight clothing in the event they start to swell, and to avoid any caffeine or alcohol, which can increase your heart rate, and don't take any drugs or pain relievers. It's also smart to remember what the snake looks like so you can describe it once you receive the proper medical attention.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Can You Really Suck the Poison Out of a Snakebite?

Venomous species tend to have cat-like elliptical pupils, while non-venomous snakes have round pupils. Another clue is the shape of the bite wound. Venomous snakes generally leave two deep puncture wounds, whereas non-venomous varieties tend to leave a horseshoe-shaped ring of shallow puncture marks. To be on the safe side, do a little research before you go out into the wilderness to see if there are any snake species you should be particularly cautious of in the area.

It’s also worth noting that up to 25 percent of bites from venomous snakes are actually “dry” bites, meaning they contain no venom at all. This is because snakes can control how much venom they release with each bite, so if you look too big to eat, they may well decide not to waste their precious load on you and save it for their next meal instead.

Encyclopedia BritannicaeMedicine HealthReptile GardensQuoraWebMDWikipediaWorld Health Organization (WHO) Can You Really Suck the Poison Out of a Snakebite? (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

AD: Aviation Machinist Mate, one who throws wrenches at aircraft and prays to mech gods for a favorable outcome.

AE: Aviation Electrician's Mate.

A-Farts: (AFRTS) Armed Forces Radio & Television Service. A-Farts is received via satellite all over the world and offers a variety of shows. Some of the most entertaining offerings are the propaganda commercials it frequently airs since regular advertising is not permitted.

AFTA: Advanced First Term Avionics: Part of the advanced electronics schooling package, reserved for AT's AQ's and AX's for advanced training. Basically, they taught the PO2 exam for 6 months.

A-Gang: The Auxiliaries Division of the Engineering Department. Members are known as “A-Gangers”. Also called “Fresh Air Snipe”.

Ahead Flank Liberty: The fictitious speed at which a ship travels after a mission or patrol is completed with high marks and the ship is headed into very nice foreign ports that cater to visiting U.S. Forces.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Air Crew: Personnel that work on board any aircraft that can carry a crew (i.e. UH-1, CH-46, CH-53, V-22, etc.), and are normally charged with loading gear, passengers, and manning the door/ tail guns.

Air Force pockets or Army gloves: An individual's hands being inside his or her pockets.

ALICE: All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment, an older form of combat gear still in occasional use in some Marine activities, replaced by MOLLE and ILBE.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Strike Fighter Squadron 204 (VFA-204) - nicknamed the “River Rattlers”
U.S. Navy Reserve: Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana - Established July 1, 1970

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Beat around the bush”

Beat around the bush:”  Meaning: To prevaricate and avoid coming to the point.

History: he figurative meaning of the odd phrase 'beat around the bush' or, as it is usually expressed in the UK, 'beat about the bush', evolved from the earlier literal meaning. In bird hunts some of the participants roused the birds by beating the bushes and enabling others, to use a much later phrase, to 'cut to the chase' and catch the quarry in nets. So 'beating about the bush' was the preamble to the main event, which was the capturing of the birds. Of course, grouse hunting and other forms of hunt still use beaters today.

The phrase is old and first appears in the medieval poem Generydes - A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas, circa 1440:

“Butt as it hath be sayde full long agoo,

ome bete the bussh and some the byrdes take.”

The poem is anonymous and exists only as a single handwritten manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, the early printed versions all having disappeared. Even at that early date the author's implication was clearly that 'beting the bussh' was considered a poor substitute for getting on with it and 'taking the byydes'. If it really was said 'full long agoo' in the 15th century then the English 'beat about the bush' must be one of the oldest non-biblical phrases in the language. The earliest version I can find that adds 'about' to 'beat the bush' is in George Gascoigne's Works, 1572:

“He bet about the bush, whyles other caught the birds.”

Phrases.org UK

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

This Ant Attempted the World's Tiniest Diamond Heist

This Ant Attempted the World's Tiniest Diamond Heist

A New York City gem dealer didn't need the long arm of the law to catch a recent would-be diamond thief — the bandit traveled only a few feet from the scene of the crime, and measured just a fraction of an inch in length.

The perpetrator of what is probably the world's tiniest diamond heist was an ant, and its daring caper took place in plain sight. Not only was the theft detected within moments; the ant's antics were captured in a video that quickly went viral after it was posted to YouTube.

In the video clip, piles of very small diamonds can be seen on a desk blotter. The camera zooms in and focuses on an unusual flurry of activity near a corner of the blotter, revealing an ant hurrying away with a diamond grasped firmly in its mandibles. At the very least, the determined insect deserves points for its confidence - the diamond appears to be nearly as big as the ant's own body. [Gallery: 13 Mysterious and Cursed Gemstones]

For about 47 seconds, the camera follows the ant as it carries its glittering prize across the table. Sometimes the ant forges forward with the diamond, and sometimes the insect reverses direction and drags the diamond behind it.

This Ant Attempted the World's Tiniest Diamond Heist

Feisty foragers

Though diamonds are certainly unusual items for an ant to target, the industrious insects are well-known for their foraging behavior, and those that live in colonies often collect items to bring back to their nests, said Helen McCreery, a researcher with the Department of Integrative Biology at Michigan State University.

And ants frequently carry objects that are much bigger and heavier than they are, according to McCreery, who studies the group behavior and collective intelligence of social ants.

“I've seen ants drag things well over 100 times their mass - they are very strong,”

That type of strength can vary greatly among ant species, and it's hard to tell from the video which species the diamond thief represents — but it's clearly not unusual for ants to carry objects that outweigh them. Ants typically drag heavy items, and since the ant in the video alternates between carrying the diamond and dragging it while moving backward, the gem may have been just on the border of a weight that the insect could comfortably carry, McCreery said.

This Ant Attempted the World's Tiniest Diamond Heist

Food for thought

In general, when foraging ants pick something up, it's usually a piece of food. Ants may also carry materials to incorporate into their homes, but it's not very likely that this ant had an engineering purpose in mind for the diamond. The more probable explanation is that there was a substance coating the gem, which made the ant think it was something edible, McCreery said.

It was also surprising to see that the ant was able to grasp something as slick as a diamond, though the gem's shape may have made it easier for the ant to grip it between its jaws, she added.

The video ends on a suspenseful note: It cuts abruptly while the ant is still marching resolutely along. Viewers are then left wondering if the person behind the camera decided that enough was enough and retrieved their property from the pint-size crook, or if they decided to let the ant escape with its ill-gotten treasure and live to steal another day.

Live Science (08/21/2018) video

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


“Sweet Home Alabama” - Lynyrd Skynyrd 1974

“Sweet Home Alabama” - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Album: Second Helping
Released 1974 video

Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville, Florida. They wrote this song about their impressions of Alabama and as a tribute to the studio musicians at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where they recorded from 1970-1972. The studios gained fame during the '60s and '70s when it became the vogue thing for bands to record there. Artists like Bo Diddley, Aretha Franklin, and many big southern rock groups recorded there. “The Swampers” was a name Leon Russell's producer Denny Cordell came up with for the musicians, and when Russell earned a Gold Record for his 1971 album Leon Russell and the Shelter People (recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios), he gave one to the guys that said, “Presented to The Swampers”. (These commemorative gold records were often given to folks who helped create or market the album, and they often went to record executives or radio stations).

Lynyrd Skynyrd saw the record, and when they included the line, “Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers” in this song, they popularized the nickname and brought a lot of attention to these Alabama players who worked behind the scenes on many famous recordings. To find out how the nickname originated in the first place, we asked a Swamper - bass player David Hood: “We had been working with Leon, we had been working with Denny Cordell, who was his producer. I think Denny came up with the name. We did an album called The Shelter People. And on the album there were musicians on some tracks from Tulsa - Carl Radle and some of the guys from out there - and tracks by us. And to differentiate, he wrote down “The Muscle Shoals Swampers” on the ones we did, and the Tulsa one, I don't know what he called them, but the Tulsa people on the others. And that just kind of took.

As for Skynyrd's Muscle Shoals output, they recorded a full album there in 1972 which wasn't released until nine of the tracks were included on their 1978 album (after their tragic plane crash) Skynyrd's First and... Last. According to David Hood, the tape from the sessions, which included their song “Free Birdvideo, got kinked at some point after it left the studio, and when the band's manager would play it for record companies, it was flipped and sounded terrible. The band wasn't happy with the Muscle Shoals crew at the time, but put aside any hard feelings when they found out the recordings were fine if played correctly. These early Skynyrd recordings were produced by Muscle Shoals house musician Jimmy Johnson; the band's first release was produced by Al Kooper.

Some of the lyrics are a jab at Neil Young:

I hope Neil Young will remember

A southern man don't need him around anyhow

Young had written songs like “Southern Man” and “Alabama”, which implied that people in the American South were racist and stuck in the past. Skynyrd responded with “Sweet Home Alabama”, a song about Southern pride and all the good things in Alabama.

The feud between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young was always good-natured fun; they were actually mutual fans. Ronnie Van Zant often wore Neil Young T-shirts onstage and is wearing one on the cover of Street Survivors, the last Skynyrd album released before his death.

Neil Young performed this once: He played it at a memorial to the three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a plane crash in 1977.

The guitar solo in the song is actually played in the wrong key. Producer Al Kooper noticed that Ed King played the solo in the key of G instead of D, the first chord in the progression. He was so vexed that he took to tune to California, and played it for his guitarist friend Michael Bloomfield. In fact, the song is in G, and King himself rips the exuberant, melodic blues lines in the E minor pentatonic blues scale, which in the song functions as the G pentatonic scale. (from Guitar Edge magazine - July/August 2006)

This was the lead track on the album, and it became Skynyrd's first hit. The song was written during the sessions for the group's first album, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, but they decided to save it so they would have a big song to open Second Helping.

George Wallace, who fought for segregation, was the governor of Alabama when this was released. He loved the song, especially the line, “In Birmingham they love the governor”, and he made the band honorary Lieutenant Colonels in the state militia.

Wallace may not have listened very carefully however, as Ronnie Van Zant explained: “The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn't notice the words 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor.” Van Zant added, “We're not into politics, we don't have no education, and Wallace don't know anything about rock and roll.”

At the beginning, when Ronnie Van Zant says, “Turn it up”, it was not planned. He was telling an engineer to turn up the volume in his headset before recording his track. The comment sounded good, so they left it in the final mix.

If you listen carefully to the line, “Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her”, immediately following it, someone in the background sings, “Southern Man”. Some people thought it was a recording of Neil Young, but it was their producer, Al Kooper, impersonating Young.

This was Skynyrd's first single to chart. They have never been a “singles” band, as their fans tend to buy the albums.

This was the first Skynyrd song to use female backup singers. The band never met the three women who sang on this, since they were recorded separately.

Guitarist Gary Rossington came up with the idea for this song. Ed King, another Skynyrd guitarist, wrote the intro, and Ronnie Van Zant wrote the lyrics. It came together quickly and easily.

The voice at the beginning that does the count-in is Ed King.

The National Review placed this song at #4 on their list of the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs of All Time. They wrote: “A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe”, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: “A Southern man don't need him around anyhow.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd official site / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Lynyrd Skynyrd

Image: “Second Helping (album)” by Lynyrd Skynyrd



● Which military conquest in 1588 firmly established Britain as the world's leading naval power?


● What was the first state to enter the union after the original thirteen?


● What revolving food tray is named for a lethargic woman?

Lazy Susan.

● What three countries have the largest Muslim populations?

Indonesia, Pakistan, India.


A Test for People Who Know Everything

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

“The red algae pepper dulse & landlady's wig are types of this found in the North Atlantic.”

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

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

“The last of many books by Jacques Cousteau was titled “The Human, the Orchid, and” this other “O” creature.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “MARINE LIFE” ($1,000 - DD):

“National Geographic says without this small shrimplike crustacean, most “life forms in the Antarctic would disappear”.”

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

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “GUNS N' ROSES” ($200):

“Not surprising, there's a sweet little rosebud called the yellow rose of this, also the title of a folk song.”

● Answer: Texas. History

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “GUNS N' ROSES” ($400):

“If you're holding a Smith & Wesson .38, the .38 refers to this, the diameter of the bore of the gun.”

● Answer: Caliber. Quora

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “GUNS N' ROSES” ($800):

“The Remington 700 is an example of a rifle with this manual action to load a cartridge into the chamber.”

● Answer: Bolt Action. Remington

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - Golden Girls”

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - Golden Girls”

“The man was in no shape to drive”

Joke of the Day

The man was in no shape to drive, so he wisely left his car parked and walked home.

As he was walking unsteadily along, he was stopped by a policeman. "What are you doing out here at 2 A.M.?" asked the officer.

“I'm going to a lecture.” The man said.

“And who is going to give a lecture at this hour?” the cop asked.

“My wife”, said the man.