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Even knowing they don’t want to eat people and that they’re asleep, because this is how they sleep, the idea of floating in an empty blue void with a bunch of a giant grey slab creatures just hovering around doing nothing is pleasingly frightening on a sort of primal existential level
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4ft 8.5"

Dec. 7th, 2016 07:21 pm
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Why 4 FEET 8.5 Inches is Very Important

Fascinating Stuff …

Railroad Tracks
The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.

That’s an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the U.S. Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular Odd wheel spacing?

Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So, who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear
of destroying their wagon wheels.

Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

In other words, bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification, procedure, or process, and wonder, ‘What horse’s ass came up with this?’,
you may be exactly right.

Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.

Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, you will notice that there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.

The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit larger,
but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains
and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know,
is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature
of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.

And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important!

Now you know, Horses’ Asses control almost everything.

Explains a whole lot of stuff, doesn’t it?

This is the single most mind blowing fact I’ve read on tumblr, every day is a school day-thank you.

Nice history lesson!

My daughter and I were just discussing this very subject.
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Valhalla does not discriminate against the kind of fight you lost. Did you lose the battle with cancer? Maybe you died in a fist fight. Even facing addiction. After taking a deep drink from his flagon, Odin slams his cup down and asks for the glorious tale of your demise!

Oh my god, this is beautiful.

A small child enters Valhalla. The battle they lost was “hiding from an alcoholic father.” Odin sees the flinch when he slams the cup and refrains from doing it again. He hears the child’s pain; no glorious battle this, but one of fear and wretched survival.

He invites the child to sit with him, offers the choicest mead and instructs his men to bring a sword and shield, a bow and arrow, of the very best materials and appropriate size. “Here,” he says, “you will find no man who dares to harm you. But so you will know your own strength, and be happy all your days in Valhalla, I will teach you to use these weapons.”

The sad day comes when another child enters the hall. Odin does not slam his cup; he simply beams with pride as the first child approaches the newcomer, and holds out her bow and quiver, and says “nobody here will hurt you. Everyone will be so proud you did your best, and I’ll teach you to use these, so you always know how strong you are.”

————

A young man enters the hall. He hesitates when Odin asks his story, but at long last, it ekes out: skinheads after the Pride parade. His partner got into a building and called for help. The police took a little longer than perhaps they really needed to, and two of those selfsame skinheads are in the hospital now with broken bones that need setting, but six against one is no fair match. The fear in his face is obvious: here, among men large enough to break him in two, will he face an eternity of torment for the man he left behind?

Odin rumbles with anger. Curses the low worms who brought this man to his table, and regales him with tales of Loki so to show him his own welcome. “A day will come, my friend, when you seek to be reunited, and so you shall,” Odin tells him. “To request the aid of your comrades in battle is no shameful thing.”

———-

A woman in pink sits near the head of the table. She’s very nearly skin and bones, and has no hair. This will not last; health returns in Valhalla, and joy, and light, and merrymaking. But now her soul remembers the battle of her life, and it must heal.

Odin asks.

And asks again.

And the words pour out like poisoned water, things she couldn’t tell her husband or children. The pain of chemotherapy. The agony of a mastectomy, the pain still deeper of “we found a tumor in your lymph nodes. I’m so sorry.” And at last, the tortured question: what is left of her?

Odin raises his flagon high. “What is left of you, fair warrior queen, is a spirit bright as fire; a will as strong as any forged iron; a life as great as any sea. Your battle was hard-fought, and lost in the glory only such furor can bring, and now the pain and fight are behind you.“

In the months to come, she becomes a scop of the hall–no demotion, but simple choice. She tells the stories of the great healers, Agnes and Tanya, who fought alongside her and thousands of others, who turn from no battle in the belief that one day, one day, the war may be won; the warriors Jessie and Mabel and Jeri and Monique, still battling on; the queens and soldiers and great women of yore.

The day comes when she calls a familiar name, and another small, scarred woman, eyes sunken and dark, limbs frail, curly black hair shaved close to her head, looks up and sees her across the hall. Odin descends from his throne, a tall and foaming goblet in his hands, and stuns the hall entire into silence as he kneels before the newcomer and holds up the goblet between her small dark hands and bids her to drink.

“All-Father!” the feasting multitudes cry. “What brings great Odin, Spear-Shaker, Ancient One, Wand-Bearer, Teacher of Gods, to his knees for this lone waif?”

He waves them off with a hand.

“This woman, LaTeesha, Destroyer of Cancer, from whom the great tumors fly in fear, has fought that greatest battle,” he says, his voice rolling across the hall. “She has fought not another body, but her own; traded blows not with other limbs but with her own flesh; has allowed herself to be pierced with needles and scored with knives, taken poison into her very veins to defeat this enemy, and at long last it is time for her to put her weapons down. Do you think for a moment this fight is less glorious for being in silence, her deeds the less for having been aided by others who provided her weapons? She has a place in this great hall; indeed, the highest place.”

And the children perform feats of archery for the entertainment of all, and the women sing as the young man who still awaits his beloved plays a lute–which, after all, is not so different from the guitar he once used to break a man’s face in that great final fight.

Valhalla is a place of joy, of glory, of great feasting and merrymaking.

And it is a place for the soul and mind to heal.

I’M NOT CRYING YOU’RE CRYING

THIS IS GLORIOUS

Beautiful.
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Man. I feel so thirsty lately.  I can’t drink enough water. I feel like the senator guy in that X-Men movie after getting exposed to Magneto’s mutant machine, and he keeps drinking drinking drinking water uncontrollably until he dives into the ocean and becomes a terrifying jellyfish creature and explodes.  Freaking Magneto. I was already sympathetic to the mutant cause. Why you gotta hate?

You’re not a mutant, honey, you’re a mermaid.  It’s all right.  Once your scales start coming in, you won’t be as thirsty.

You know, being a diagnostician in a world with more public magical creatures must be a trip and a half.  

“Extreme thirst has a lot of causes.  Let’s check your blood sugar, and let’s take a skin sample to see if you’re developing scales.”

“Joint pain is pretty common when someone’s pushing themself that way with training, and I’d definitely recommend some rest, but it sounds like it’s been coming on with the moon so we might want to do a blood test to check for lycanthropy.”

“I’m going to give you this journal.  Keep track of how often you’re near bodies of water and copses of trees – not single trees, there needs to be a cluster.”

“Bear with me, I know you’re lactose intolerant, but buy a pint of milk and keep it in your kitchen.  If it spoils faster than expected, we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on here.”

“Have you considered that you may not, in fact, actually be a mammal?”

“Okay, I’m going to have to refer you to a specialist. It looks like your tertiary dentition is coming in.”
“I think we need to check for allergic reactions to silver, iron, a few types of wood, garlic, and holy water. That’ll help us rule out some possible causes for this rash. In the mean time I think you should avoid Italian food and holy ground.”

“Have you noticed clusters of birds following you? Were they corvids? Hm, interesting. You ought to come in to the office so we can discuss this further.”
“That itching sensation might be a rash, but I think we ought to give you an MRI and see if you’re about to grow horns.”

So basically, medicine in the Dark Ages, upgraded.

This is literally my dream as a writer and my worst nightmare as a nurse

So I imagine a supernatural version of House where almost every episode someone is like “it’s lycanthropy” and the House character goes “it’s never lycanthropy” except for the one episode it is where the title of the episode is lycanthropy.
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I learned something new and horrifying today which is… that… no submarine is ever considered “lost” … there is apparently a tradition in the U.S. Navy that no submarine is ever lost. Those that go to sea and do not return are considered to be “still on patrol.”

?????

There is a monument about this along a canal near here its… the worst thing I have ever seen. it says “STILL ON PATROL” in huge letters and then goes on to specify exactly how many WWII submarine ghosts are STILL OUT THERE, ON PATROL (it is almost 2000 WWII submarine ghosts, ftr). Here is the text from it:

“U.S. Navy Submarines paid heavily for their success in WWII. A total of 374 officers and 3131 men are still on board these 52 U.S. submarines still on patrol.”

THANKS A LOT, U.S. NAVY, FOR HAVING THIS TOTALLY NORMAL AND NOT AT ALL HORRIFYING TRADITION, AND TELLING ALL OF US ABOUT IT. THANKS. THANK YOU

anyway now my mother and I cannot stop saying STILL ON PATROL to each other in ominous tones of voice

There’s definitely something ominous about that—the implication that, one day, they will return from patrol.

Actually, it’s rather sweet. I don’t know if this is common across the board, but my dad’s friend is a radio op for subs launched off the east coast, and he always is excited for Christmas, because they go through the list of SoP subs and hail them, wishing them a merry Christmas and telling them they’re remembered.

Imagine a country whose seamen never die, and whose submarines can’t be destroyed…because no ones sure if they exist or not.

No but imagine. It’s Christmas. A black, rotting corridor in a forgotten submarine. The sound of dripping water echoes coldly through the hull. You can’t see very far down the corridor but then, a man appears, he’s running, in a panic, but his footsteps make no noise. The spectral seaman dashes around the corner and slips through a rusty wall. He finds himself at the back of a crowd of his cadaverous crew-mates. They part to let him through. He feels the weight of their hollow gaze as he reaches the coms station. Even after all these years a sickly green light glistens in the dark. The captain’s skeleton lays a sharp hand on his shoulder and nods at him encouragingly, the light sliding over the bones of his skull. The ghost of the seaman steadies himself and slips his fingers into the dials of the radio, possessing it. It wails and screeches. A bombardment of static. And then silence. The deathly crew mates look at each other with worry, with sadness; could this be the year where there is no voice in the dark? No memory of home? The phantasm of the sailor pushes his hand deeper into the workings of the radio, the signal clears, and then a strong voice, distant with the static but warm and kind, echoes from the darkness; “Merry Christmas boys, we’re all thinking of you here at home, have a good one.”
A sepulchral tear wafts it’s way down the seaman’s face. The bony captain embraces him. The crew grin through rotten jaws, laughing silently in their joy. They haven’t forgotten us. They haven’t forgotten.

I am completely on board with this. It’s not horrifying, it’s heartwarming.

Personal story time: whenever I go to Field Museum’s Egypt exhibit, I stop by the plaque at the entrance to the underground rooms. It has an English translation of a prayer to feed the dead, and a list of all the names they know of the mummies on display there. I always recite the prayer and read aloud the list of names. They wanted to live forever, to always have their souls fed and their names spoken. How would they feel about being behind glass, among strangers? Every little thing you can do to give respect for the dead is warranted.

I love the idea of lost subs still being on patrol. Though if you really want something ominous, let me say that the superstitious part of me wonders: why are they still on patrol? If they haven’t been found, do they not consider their mission completed? What is it out there that they are protecting us from?

@boromir-queries-sean

Ghost ships have a mission.

They’re rare, not because shipwrecks are rare (they aren’t) or because it’s hard to become a ghost ship (it really isn’t; with all the people who believe in them, even for a few moments on dark nights in the middle of a ghost story, it’s as easy as falling asleep, as easy as flipping a switch, as easy as stepping into the light, and the dark, all at once), but rather, because their sea is vast and their mission is long. 

They have all seas in all dimensions to cover, for all of eternity, and their mission is this: to help, to guide, to rescue, whenever and wherever they can, in those dark times when you’re alone and lost or when your enemies have cut you off from all witnesses, expecting an easy kill.

The only rule that binds a ghost ship is to not be known; to be seen only by those they rescue and those they kill, to leave hints and stories and rumors and possibilities, but never to clearly and objectively exist. The light is life and its rules, wherein people die and ships become shipwrecks, or it is Heaven, where all seas are luminous and all ships come home; the dark is oblivion, or loss; the realm of the ghost ships is twilight, the place in between, where anything can happen.

The stories are universal. A ship, lost in a storm, sees the light of another ship and follows it to safe harbor; the crewman who saw the name is told he must have been mistaken; that ship vanished twenty years ago. A sailor who fell overboard is rescued, taken on, and brought to shore, never quite letting himself wonder why their ship and their uniforms and their speech patterns are half a century out of date. A ship with pirates circling sees rescue come up out of nowhere, a mighty and terrible vessel which destroys the attackers utterly, then disappears as swiftly as it came.

A submarine, hunted under the Arctic ice sheets, finds a sudden, friendly contact lighting up their sonar screens, guiding them to safety as the attackers break off, confused at the unscheduled presence. The grateful officers cluster around the screen, pinging their new friend and wondering what manner of newfangled boat the Navy has put into service while they were out here, and what kind of engine can make it move like that, once the enemies are gone and the guardian accelerates out of sonar range. But when they make their report, their superiors are adamant that they have nothing like that, and no one else was even there.

It is only years later, with the launch of the first nuclear subs, that any of them begin to get a suspicion of what they met back there, and when one of these submarines doesn’t come back when it should, the old captain hears the phrase “still on patrol” and finds himself, suddenly, shaking so hard he has to sit down.

It’s a strange club, with no meetings and no officers and no dues beyond the ones they paid to get here: the people who’ve been lost and then found, rescued, brought safe home, by a chance encounter with a ship long since lost, or sometimes, not yet launched. They seem to recognize each other, somehow, and they’ll meet in bars and in museums and out on the docks and by the monuments to the missing and lost, exchange stories, drink a toast and go on about their lives, wondering on the edge of knowing.

It’s probably a mistake, almost certainly some ship with a similar name assuming they were the ones hailed, but one Christmas, when the operator is most of the way through the list labeled Still On Patrol, the radio crackles to life in answer. “Scorpion here. Merry Christmas to you too, Ma’am, and thank you.”

@editorincreeps
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Jolene (33 R.P.M) - click for .mp3

Unsure where this came from, if not the palsied hands of the good Lord himself.

Simple premise: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” slipped from 45 to 33 rpm. Nothing more; no studio trickery, no trip hop drum breaks. The guitar lopes back in and around itself. The bass becomes elastic, hot rubber. The violin stabs become sustained cello lines. The backing choir’s split harmony rattles around, slinking ghostly into the corner.  And most importantly, Parton’s once-frantic vocal is transformed from bubblegum country scrawl into something approximating field holler reverence. 

An already perfect song made transcendental..

this works … pretty much perfectly. even the vocal.

I’m not a C&W or Dolly Parton fan so I’m not familiar with the song. Listening to the two versions one after the other (”proper” speed here) it sounds as if the apparent contralto voice in the 33rpm is the original.

A lower register and slower tempo seems more appropriate to the melancholy subject of the lyrics. Obviously not the case, but there you go.

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