Sit. Rep. #95: Windlass, Windless, and Mice

US Flag:

1- The US Flag has certain standards when displayed over streets, roads, and highways.

When the flag is displayed over a traffic lane/s or over a one-way street, the Union is flown to the flag’s upper right corner.  That way the US Union is to the driver/observer’s upper left corner.  It does not matter if the flag is displayed horizontally or vertically.  The US Union is always in the flag’s upper right corner.

When the flag is displayed in the center of the pavement that has bi-directional traffic flows,  The US Union is displayed to the North or East or between these 2 cardinal directions.

If the flag is flown from a building to a nearby pole.  The Union side of the flag is hoisted out first and therefore the farthest away from the building.

When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the flag should be attached to the front right bumper or fender.

When the flag is draped over a casket, the union is placed over the deceased’s left shoulder.  The flag is NOT lowered into the ground with the casket.  The flag is usually folded above or taken astride the casket to be folded.  The casket may then be lowered.  The flag is then presented to the family of the deceased.

Note: If you are ever in attendance at a military funeral, pay attention to how respectful the deceased, the flag, and the family are treated.

Jacob’s Staff:

2- Jacob’s Staff is a bit of history and was used by Baden-Powell to illustrate a point to the world of Scouts at the 1937 World Jamboree.  Jacob’s Staff has several names:  Cross-Staff,  Ballastella,  Fore-Staff, and Balestilha.  Jacob’s Staff was first used in surveying property to determine land rights, ownership, and taxes.  The first iterations were a simple stick with measurement markings on it.  Later a crossbar was added.

It was then used as a navigator’s tool onboard ship to determine Longitude and Latitude by angles.  This staff pre-dated the sextant.  Latitude is simply the angle between the horizon and the North Star called Polaris.  But a 3rd thing must be accurate to determine Longitude using the angle between the Sun and the Horizon.  The time must be known.  One of the “ship’s boy’s” duties was to keep the hourglass turned at exactly the right time.  Then the navigator could compare the Sun/horizon angles to the charts at a given time of day to determine the Longitude.

Here I quote B-P: “This was the instrument by which navigators in old days found their way across the sea.  Let it also for us today be an instrument of guidance in our life.  It is the Cross which for all who are Christians points the way, but it is also a cross with many arms; these are held out to embrace all creeds.”

I- How do mice find their way?
J- With a Rodent map.

The 9-11 anniversary:

3-  9-11 anniversary is approaching.  I shed some tears and say some extra prayers on those anniversaries.  A friend of mine had 2 relatives die in the towers as first responders.  Another had a sister die in Pennsylvania.  A Scout friend’s sister just left the 2nd tower before it was hit.  She lost all of her co-workers.  The connections and friends that I have made through Scouting are precious to me.  I give thanks for those friends.  I also grieve when they hurt.

Knot Jargon:

4- Sailors call a Square Knot the Reef Knot.  They also call “rope” by a different name.  They call it “line.”

Weather Strikes Again:

5- The weather forecaster will call a “windless” day one that is calm without wind.  But a sailor has a “windlass” used to assist in hoisting a line attached to sailing sheets or to anchors.  The windlass is a kind of winch.  Windlass is also used as a verb meaning to hoist or lower something.  Be careful how you pronounce the different words.

K- Why can’t pirates say the entire alphabet?
L- They get lost at “C.”

6- Lightening is simply a static electricity discharge between 2 clouds or between a cloud and the earth.  The thunder that you hear is the sound wave caused by the lightning bolt splitting the air.  Those lightning bolts are hotter than the surface of the Sun.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop,

     The time difference between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder can give you an estimate for the distance to the lightning strike.  Every 5 seconds of difference between the two is a mile in distance.  The smaller the time difference between lightning and thunder means that the lightning strike is closer.  Remember to wait at least 30 mins after the last thunder or the last lightning strike before going back into or on the water.  Be careful.  Watch and listen to the weather.  Lightning strikes should never be a surprise to you.  Pay attention to the winds and clouds.

Semper Paratus,

Scout Skits: by Thomas Mercaldo

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