|The Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month
||[Nov. 11th, 2013|04:58 pm]
11 November 2013|
One of the things that always amazes me about Armistice Day is that, even after they knew that the war was over, or would be over in hours, both sides kept firing, lobbing shells at each other until the last possible moment. I sometimes wonder how many men were killed between the armistice being signed and the guns falling silent.
That being said, I go to the personal. I'm having my yearly problem – when should I start wearing a jacket? If I start too early, I'll broil myself in my own sweat. So far, mid-day still gets pretty warm, though the mornings are lovely and the evenings tend toward the brisk – except for the days we have to throw all the windows open in hopes of a breeze. This may not be Atlanta, but, especially now that all climactic zones have shifted a full month North, Boston is still pretty far south. It might not be full summer still, but the six-week winter is still a long way away.
That being said, I go to the whiny. The Project Manager of one of my studies asked if I had half-an-hour to discuss a couple of ongoing problems with the sponsor project manager. The half-hour meeting actually went just about three hours of excruciating detail, and it's not as though I was wondering what to do during those three hours. And our PM, the one who'd set up the meeting, dropped out at Hour One, leaving me as the sole company rep in the conversation. Tricksy!
Not to mention that I'm not that good understanding voices on the phone, and I was talking to a French-speaking Swiss, a German-speaking Swiss, and a Chinese medical monitor. I had to keep asking "Say again?", until they both probably figured I had been hired in some sort of a social program.
That being said, I'd best go back to work. I seem to be behind where I thought I'd be by this time.
It is officially winter.
Not because you had to take a jacket today.
Not because of the snowflakes.
No, it is officially winter because the Christian Science Church is draining its block-long reflecting pool today.
I was reviewing a favorite local naval battle recently. The USS Chesapeake under the command of Captain James Lawrence sailed out of Boston Harbor on June 1st, 1813, to meet the British blockading vessel, the HMS Shannon under Captain Philip Broke. It was one of those coincidences of history - Broke had sent a formal challenge to Lawrence, but it never reached him. Lawrence apparently had decided on his own to test his vessel against the Shannon, which was of the same approximate size and firepower. He probably felt he had the advantage - his crew was rested and ready, and his ship freshly equipped. Shannon had been stationed off Boston for 56 days, and was threadbare and running out of stores. It would have to re-supply at Halifax in a matter of days.
What Lawrence did not sufficiently consider was that Broke had been drilling his crew on gunnery every day.
The battle took fifteen minutes from the first gun to the last, and represented Britain's first naval victory over America during this particularly useless war. But here's the most foolish part: Broke and a small crew boarded the Chesapeake and drove the (pitiably few) survivors belowdecks. Broke sent his first lieutenant, George Watt, to strike the colors. But Watt fouled the halyards and, after running the flag halfway down, ran it back up again. The Shannon responded with another broadside, and Watt was hit. He was killed by his own side in the act of signaling that the Chesapeake had surrendered.
Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded during the action. His last words were, "Don't give up the ship." It didn't help.