Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 42, 2018

Previous Week   October 15, 2018 - October 21, 2018  Next Week

Victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781

Victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781

Victory at Yorktown: Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.

Lord Cornwallis was one of the most capable British generals of the American Revolution. In 1776, he drove General George Washington’s Patriots forces out of New Jersey, and in 1780 he won a stunning victory over General Horatio Gates’ Patriot army at Camden, South Carolina. Cornwallis’ subsequent invasion of North Carolina was less successful, however, and in April 1781 he led his weary and battered troops toward the Virginia coast, where he could maintain seaborne lines of communication with the large British army of General Henry Clinton in New York City. After conducting a series of raids against towns and plantations in Virginia, Cornwallis settled in the tidewater town of Yorktown in August. The British immediately began fortifying the town and the adjacent promontory of Gloucester Point across the York River.

General George Washington instructed the Marquis de Lafayette, who was in Virginia with an American army of around 5,000 men, to block Cornwallis’ escape from Yorktown by land. In the meantime, Washington’s 2,500 troops in New York were joined by a French army of 4,000 men under the Count de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau made plans to attack Cornwallis with the assistance of a large French fleet under the Count de Grasse, and on August 21 they crossed the Hudson River to march south to Yorktown. Covering 200 miles in 15 days, the allied force reached the head of Chesapeake Bay in early September.

Meanwhile, a British fleet under Admiral Thomas Graves failed to break French naval superiority at the Battle of Virginia Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his expected reinforcements. Beginning September 14, de Grasse transported Washington and Rochambeau’s men down the Chesapeake to Virginia, where they joined Lafayette and completed the encirclement of Yorktown on September 28. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French troops carried by his fleet. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000 Franco-American troops gradually overcame the fortified British positions with the aid of de Grasse’s warships. A large British fleet carrying 7,000 men set out to rescue Cornwallis, but it was too late.

On October 19, General Cornwallis surrendered 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships. Pleading illness, he did not attend the surrender ceremony, but his second-in-command, General Charles O’Hara, carried Cornwallis’ sword to the American and French commanders. As the British and Hessian troops marched out to surrender, the British bands played the song “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Although the war persisted on the high seas and in other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown effectively ended fighting in the American colonies. Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally recognizing the United States as a free and independent nation after eight years of war.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica /British Battles / George Washington's Mount Vernon.org / Library of Congress.gov / Victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781 (YouTube search) video

A Short History of Identification Tags (U.S. Army Quartermaster Foundation - Fort Lee, Virginia)

The Old Salt’s Corner

A Short History of Identification Tags

Captain Richard W. Wooley

Quartermaster Professional Bulletin-December 1988

Note: At the time this article was written the term Graves Registration was used for what is now call Mortuary Affairs.

Arlington National Cemetery is not the only resting place for “Unknown Soldiers”. Countless American soldiers have died defending their way of life throughout the history of this nation; many of their graves are marked with a single word, “unknown”.

The Civil War provided the first recorded incident of American soldiers making an effort to ensure that their identities would be known should they die on the battlefield. Their methods were varied, and all were taken on a soldier's own initiative. In 1863, prior to the battle of Mine's Run in northern Virginia, General Meade's troops wrote their names and unit designations on paper tags and pinned them to their clothing. Many soldiers took great care to mark all their personal belongings. Some troops fashioned their own “ID” (identification) tags out of pieces of wood, boring a hole in one end so that they could be worn on a string around the neck.

The commercial sector saw the demand for an identification method and provided products. Harper's Weekly Magazine advertised “Soldier's Pins” which could be mail ordered. Made of silver or gold, these pins were inscribed with an individual's name and unit designation. Private vendors who followed troops also offered ornate identification disks for sale just prior to battles. Still, despite the fact that fear of being listed among the unknowns was a real concern among the rank and file, no reference to an official issue of identification tags by the Federal Government exists. (42% of the Civil War dead remain unidentified.)

The first official advocacy of issuing identification tags took place in 1899. Chaplain Charles C. Pierce, who was tasked to establish the Quartermaster Office of Identification in the Philippines, recommended inclusion of an “identity disc” in the combat field kit as the answer to the need for standard identification. The Army Regulations of 1913 made identification tags mandatory, and by 1917, all combat soldiers wore aluminum discs on chains around their necks. By World War II, the circular disc was replaced by the oblong shape familiar to us today, generally referred to as “dog tags”.

Since then, some myths have arisen in connection with the purpose of the identification tags. One of the more common myths involves the reason for the notch on the tag issued between 1941 and the early 1970's. Battlefield rumor held that the notched end of the tag was placed between the front teeth of battlefield casualties to hold the jaws in place. No official record of American soldiers being issued these instructions exists; the only purpose of "the notch" was to hold the blank tag in place on the embossing machine. The machine used at this time doesn't require a notch to hold the blank in place, hence, today's tags are smooth on all sides.

The sole purpose of the identification tag is stated by its designation. Tags found around the neck of a casualty, and only those tags found around the neck, stay with the remains at all times tags found any place besides around the neck are made note of in the Record of Personal Effects of Deceased Personnel, and placed in an effects bag. They are not removed unless there is a need to temporarily inter the remains. If there is only one tag present, another is made to match the first. If the remains are unidentified, two tags marked “unidentified” are made. One tag is interred with the individual, the other placed on a wire ring in the sequence of the temporary cemetery plot. This enables Graves Registration personnel to make positive identification of remains during disinterment procedures; when the remains are disinterred, the tag on the wire ring is removed and placed with the matching tag around the neck.

The Department of the Army has developed and is currently testing a new tag, which will hold 80% of a soldier's medical and dental data on a microchip. Known as the Individually Carried Record, it is not intended to replace the present tag, but rather to augment it as part of the “paperless battlefield” concept. This development is in keeping with the Army's dedication to positively identify each and every fallen soldier.

The Armed Forces make every possible effort to eradicate discrepancies and remove doubts about casualties, not least those doubts that families may hold concerning the demise of their loved ones. In recent years, a near perfect record of identifying service members who have died in the line of duty has been achieved, a far cry from the 58% rate of identification that stood during the Civil War. The ID tag has, been and remains a major part of the reason for this record. Are you wearing your ID tags today? Too many military personnel, particularly those who are part of the peacetime force stationed in CONUS (Continental United States), forget how vital those tags can be, forget that as soldiers they are always on the line. Wearing your ID tags is one of the easiest actions you can make towards achieving total readiness, so take those tags out of your dresser and put them around your neck. Remember - the simple information contained on that small aluminum tag can speak for you if you can't speak for yourself; it could mean the difference between a positive identification and an uncertain future for those who survive you, should your identity be “...known only to God.”

~ U.S. Army Quartermaster Foundation - Fort Lee, Virginia

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth

and compassion against injustice and lying and greed.

If people all over the world would do this,

it would change the earth.”

~ William Faulkner

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“The only person you are destined to become

is the person you decide to be.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”


Let anyone determine yourself worth.

Speak without listening.

Give up before you’re ready.

Forget to breathe.

Settle for less than you deserve.

Dim your sparkle.

Complicate what you can simplify.

Make promises you can’t keep.

Believe it’s too late to begin.”

~ 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)

Supermarket stuck googly eyes on fish to make them look fresh

Supermarket stuck googly eyes on fish to make them look fresh

A supermarket in Kuwait has been shut down after its owners were caught sticking googly eyes on their fish to make them look fresher to customers.

Kuwaiti police shut down the fish store on Saturday, the Al Bayan newspaper reported, after images of the “fresh fish” circulated online.

One of the pictures showed the fake eye slipping off the fish’s face, clearly revealing a much more yellow eye underneath.

As a joke, a fish company in Kuwait announced it was selling “fish without cosmetics”, alongside a picture of a fish and a selection of different colored contact lenses.

Social media users quickly mocked the shop owner’s attempt to get away with selling old fish with a series of hilarious memes that went viral.

Mohamed El Dahshan tweeted”: “Kuwaiti police has shut down a fish store that was sticking googly eyes on fish to make them appear more fresh than they are. :-) via Al Bayan newspaper” which got over 117k likes and over 62.5k retweets.

Ashley Feinberg, another verified user, quoted the above tweet saying “my strongest-held belief is that extremely creative crimes that don’t involve maiming another person should be allowed.”

Some Twitter users took advantage of the situation to be punny.

M’BlockU, a verified user, quoted at El Dahshan’s tweet: “Well this certainly looks fishy. I hope they go to court and are found gill-ty.”

New York Post (09/03/2018) video

How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?

Everest never attempted to measure any of the heights of the Himalayan range. However, two of his subordinates, Andrew Waugh and John Armstrong, made measurements from the Himalayan foothills. Many of the apparently loftiest mountains lay north of India within Nepal or Tibet. Nepal had closed its borders to foreigners, so the team could only estimate mountain distances.

Nevertheless, with estimated distances and several angular measurements, the surveyors computed heights for various mountain peaks. From the present-day town of Darjeeling, Waugh measured a height for “Kangchenjunga”, which is now known to be the world's third tallest mountain. * Waugh's measured height of 28,176 feet is within seven feet of today's accepted value. In 1847 both Waugh and Armstrong, from different locations, took measurements of a mountain suspected to be even taller than Kangchenjunga. Since no local name could be determined, it was simply listed in survey records as “Himalaya Peak XV”.

* The most common translation of Kangchenjunga is “Five Treasuries of the Great Snow”, from the five high peaks that rise from its surrounding glaciers.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest?

Since Peak XV measurements were taken from a great distance away, terrestrial refraction (the bending of light in Earth's atmosphere) could have had a profound effect on any angles measured. Mathematical constants called “coefficients of refraction” had to be included in the elevation computations to correct for this phenomenon. By 1856, armed with better coefficients of refraction and with more accurate angular measurements, Waugh communicated his finding that Peak XV was computed at 29,002 feet above sea level. Moreover, Waugh recommended that this mountain be officially named Mount Everest to honor Everest's important role in the Great Survey.

In 1953, about a century after Mount Everest's height was first clearly ascertained, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach its summit. Since that time, mountaineers have placed various devices on Mount Everest to more accurately determine its height. For example, in 1992, an American expedition placed a reflector atop the mountain to bounce laser light off its surface. This device led to a measurement of 29,031 feet. However, like earlier measurements, this one included the snowcap's depth. Since the snowcap can vary, it would be advantageous to determine Everest's height minus this layer, estimated at between 30 and 60 feet. It has been proposed that a future expedition use ground penetrating radar to find the snow pack depth and thereby determine the height of Everest's rocky apex.

The latest surveying method used to measure Mount Everest's elevation makes use of the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS uses satellite signals to determine the coordinates of points on Earth's surface. The National Geographic Society announced in November 1999 a revised height of 29,035 feet (using GPS) for Mount Everest, but that measurement, as others before it, includes the ice and snow layers.

Daily MailLive ScienceNational GeographicQuoraWikipedia How Did They Measure the Height of Mt. Everest? (YouTube) video

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

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

“Another Fine Navy Day!”: An expression said (in a very cheery manner) on occasions when, in fact, it is not a Fine Navy Day at all. Compare "Living the dream!" in the civilian world.

Anymouse (adjective): Anonymous. Used to describe the safety system whereby sailors can drop anonymous recommendations into a locked box.

AO: Aviation Ordnanceman, personnel assigned to Aircraft Carriers, Helicopter Carriers and Aviation Squadrons that store, handle, assemble, transport and load all weapons and drop tanks along with electronic counter measure pods, dispensers and sono-bouys on Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. Other duties include storing and maintaining unit small arms as well as training and qualifying squadron member in their use and the use of deadly force. Aviation Ordnancemen are expected to have a broad knowledge base of the rate and and be able to perform any duties of the rate.

AOCS: Aviation Officer Candidate School; since discontinued pre-commissioning program at NAS Pensacola, FL that trained both prior service and non-prior service college graduates to become naval officers and to subsequently qualify as either Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers, Air Intelligence Officers, or Aircraft Maintenance Duty Officers - program merged into Officer Candidate School at NETC Newport, RI in the late 1990s.

AOL: The Absent Over Leave; Navyspeak for AWOL. See UA, the correct Naval term.

AOM: All Officers Meeting, held for a variety of reasons like training, port calls, mess issues, etc.

Armpit of the Med: Naples, Italy. So called on account of its unique smell and the overall (un)cleanliness of the city.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

ASP: Ammunition Supply Point, where ammo is stored and issued

ASVAB waiver: Insinuates someone's inability to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

As You Were: Order to disregard the immediately preceding order.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) (VFC-13) - nicknamed the “Saints”
United States Navy Reserve - Naval Air Station New Orleans, Louisiana - Established September 1, 1973

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Cut of your jib”

Cut of your jib:”  Meaning: One's general appearance and demeanour.

History: The jib of a sailing ship is a triangular sail set between the fore-topmast head and the jib boom. Some ships had more than one jib sail. Each country had its own style of sail and so the nationality of a sailing ship, and a sailor's consequent opinion of it, could be determined from the jib.

The phrase became used in an idiomatic way during the 19th century. Sir Walter Scott used to it in St. Ronan's Well, 1824:

“If she disliked what the sailor calls the cut of their jib.”

There may be an allusion between the triangular shape of noses and jibs in the figurative use of this phrase, but this isn't authenticated.

Phrases.org UK

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

Physicists, Hunting the 'Dark Photon,' Will Blast a Diamond with Antimatter

Physicists, Hunting the 'Dark Photon', Will Blast a Diamond with Antimatter

Almost everything is missing. And a team of physicists is trying to find all of it.

The universe as we know it includes about a tenth of the total stuff that's out there. The rest? Missing. Invisible. Undetectable, except through the effects of its gravity on the fraction of stuff that we can see. Researchers call that missing stuff the dark sector — the class of energetic and massive particles that seemingly must exist out there somewhere but that don't interact with luminous matter (the stuff we're made of, along with everything we can see) in any way we can detect.

There's a new project at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics in Italy that's going to try to unlock all that dark stuff using the theoretical dark photon (the dark-sector version of regular light-carrying photons) as the key. And if they actually find the dark photon, it will provide evidence for the universe's fifth force — which would be huge news in physics. [Beyond Higgs: 5 Elusive Particles That May Lurk in the Universe]

According to a report in The Guardian, Italian researchers plan to bombard a diamond wafer with a beam of antimatter particles called positrons, which are the antimatter versions of electrons. Under normal circumstances, positrons and electrons that smash into each other annihilate each other, producing a pair of regular photons.

But if dark photons really exist, then every once in a while, a positron-electron annihilation should produce one. Instead of the interaction spitting out two regular photons, a dark photon and a regular photon would emerge side by side, The Guardian reported.

The researchers told Physics World that they hope that the beam of positrons in their experiment, which they call Padme, will crash into enough electrons in the diamond to produce a dark photon. Padme won't be able to detect that dark photon directly; instead, a missing photon will serve as evidence. A positron-electron annihilation that produces a dark photon will look to Padme like some of its energy just disappeared, because it will have entered the dark sector.

If that happens, the researchers expect to be able to confirm the existence of the dark photon, and measure its mass. (Unlike regular photons, dark photons have mass, according to The Guardian.)

That would be evidence of not just a new particle but also an entirely new force.

In the luminous universe, there are four forces. Electromagnetism carries light energy and binds atoms to other atoms. (As The Guardian noted, it's the reason you don't fall through your chair.) The strong force holds the particles inside atoms together. The weak force causes atoms to fall apart and decay. And gravity, the fourth force we can detect, pins you to the Earth and governs the movements of the cosmos.

If dark photons exist, The Guardian reported, then they would be the manifestation of a fifth force entirely — one not present in our prevailing model of the universe: dagnetism. If one turns up in Padme (and that's a big if; past hunts for dark photons have turned up nada), then it will really be time to rewrite the physics texrk electromatbooks.

Live Science (08/28/2018) video

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


“Paranoid” - Black Sabbath 1970

“Paranoid” - Black Sabbath
Album: Who's Next
Released 1970 video

Although this was the first Black Sabbath-penned single, the band's debut single was actually a cover of Crow video's “Evil Woman Don't Play Your Games With Me” a few months before the “Paranoid” release. “Paranoid” was much more successful. It was released six months after their self-titled first album and had a huge impact in their native UK, going to #4 and becoming one of their signature songs.

The group never charted again in the UK Top 10, but that wasn't a problem since album and ticket sales more than made up for it. Many UK rock bands, including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, put little emphasis on singles.

Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler (from Guitar World magazine, March 2004): “A lot of the Paranoid album was written around the time of our first album, Black Sabbath. We recorded the whole thing in about two or three days, live in the studio. The Song 'Paranoid' was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3-minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing.”

As the title suggests, this song is about a man who is paranoid. The driving guitar and bass create a nervous energy to go along with Ozzy's lyrics. Geezer Butler explained the song's meaning to Mojo magazine June 2013: “Basically, it's just about depression, because I didn't really know the difference between depression and paranoia. It's a drug thing; when you're smoking a joint you get totally paranoid about people, you can't relate to people. There's that crossover between the paranoia you get when you're smoking dope and the depression afterwards.”

This was the title track to the second Sabbath album. The band wanted to call the album “War Pigs”, after another song on the set, but the record company made them use “Paranoid” instead because it was less offensive. The album art, however, is a literal interpretation of a “War Pigvideo, showing a pig with a sword and shield.

The word “Paranoid” is never mentioned in the song, but there is no logical title amongst the lyrics.

The Wizardvideo, a song from their first album, was used as the B-side of the single.

Black Sabbath waited two years before releasing another single, “Iron Manvideo. They did not want to become a "singles band," with kids coming to their shows just to hear their hits. This also ensured that fans would buy the albums.

Tony Iommi recorded Paranoid with a black eye after the band had gotten involved in a brawl with some punks. This incident is also referred to in “Fairies Wear Bootsvideo.

In his book “Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath”, Iommi said he and Ozzy probably had no idea what the word “paranoid” even meant at that time. They left the lyrics to bassist Geezer Butler; they considered him the intelligent one.

Black Sabbath official site / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Black Sabbath

Image: “Paranoid (album)” by Black Sabbath



● At the end of the film, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy clicks her heels and recites what five-word phrase?

There's No Place Like Home!

● The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame lies in what city, on the shore of what great lake?

Cleveland, Ohio, on Lake Erie.

● Four of the children of which composer of classical music also became noted musicians?

Johann Sebastian Bach.

● Can you give the specific names of the 3rd and 4th living people mentioned in the Bible, after Adam and Eve?

Cain and Abel were the first two sons of Adam and Eve.


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S JUST NUTS!” ($200):

“Mount Olympus was said to have many trees bearing this nut; no word if the gods had them 'roasting on an open fire'.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S JUST NUTS!” ($800):

“This kidney-shaped nut grows out from the bottom of the same-named apple...gesundheit!.”

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

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THAT'S JUST NUTS!” ($1,000):

“Cultivated in California & Iran, it has a hard, tan shell, enclosing a pale, green nut.

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 - “A SPELLING BEE” ($200):

“Adjective for lines that are the same distance apart at every point along their whole length.”

● Answer: P-a-r-a-l-l-e-l. Oxford Dictionaries

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “A SPELLING BEE” ($400):

“You get one of these as a record for paying a bill; don't forget the silent letter.”

● Answer: R-e-c-e-i-p-t. Merriam Webster

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “A SPELLING BEE” ($1,000):

“Some sing it, some can't spell it: Earned and is never just given. BUT, you must give it to receive it.

● Answer: R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Urban Dictionary

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - Cougar Hunting”

“Eli's Dirty Jokes - Cougar Hunting”

“The boss wondered why one of his most valued employee was absent”

Joke of the Day

The Boss Wondered Why One Of His Most Valued Employee Was Absent

The boss wondered why one of his most valued employees was absent, but had not phoned in.

Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, “Is your Mommy there?”

“Yes.”, the small voice whispered.

“May I talk with her?”, asked the boss.

Again the small voice whispered, “No.”

Hoping there was someone with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, “Is anyone else there?”

“Yes”, whispered the child, “a policeman.”

Wondering what a policeman would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, “May I speak with the policeman?”

“No, he's busy”, whispered the child.

“Busy doing what?”, asked the boss.

“Talking to Mommy and Daddy and the Fireman”, came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard a loud noise through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, “What is that noise?”

“A helicopter”, answered the whispering voice.

“What is going on there?” demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.

Again, whispering, the child answered, “The search team just landed a helicopter.”

Alarmed, confused, and a little frustrated, the boss asked, “What are they searching for?”

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle...“Me!”