Bit Of A Grab Bag

First off, this is a copy of a comment I made on another site. It is from a link in “tips” to an article about the Celts of Appalachia. ( h/t to Quail here )

I put it here so that I can find it again… The context was a reply to a comment about the tendency for poor folks and especially rural Celt folks, to eat all parts of an animal, and how tasty it can be ;-) One person lamenting that you can’t find “offal” in stores anymore and pining for a ‘offal fast food’ restaurant. I felt compelled to point out that it did exist once… and while the term “fast food restaurant” wasn’t used then, we could have a plate of ‘the daily special’ hit the counter in under a minute… If someone was in a real hurry, even less, as they could say “I’m in a rush, daily special!” as they entered the door and the cook would be dishing it up as the waitress reached the service window… and have the plate hit the counter about the time butt hit’s the seat…

In the ’60s my folks ran a restaurant in rural Central Valley California. We had a “daily special” that changed through a regular cycle. I was about 10 and worked in the restaurant (which may have been illegal but I liked the money…) One of my jobs was to cut up a case of 50 chickens and pack the parts for making Fried Chicken. All the “innards” (we never called it ‘offal’) were saved for the “Chicken Innards” special…

I still get to eat the “innards” when I cook, as the spouse doesn’t like them… Yum! But blame pet food for the recent demise of innards at the grocery… Demand for pet food pays more than the local food shop.

The Cook ( a lady from Oklahoma who looked a bit blond Celtish) would put them, floured and seasoned, into a large “hot table” tray at about 6 A.M. There they would slow cook and make a gravy… and be ready for service at lunch / dinner.

Never knew Gizzards could be so tender you could cut them with a fork until then…

Mum is from Britain. A mix of Viking of some sort and local British Celts. Dad is ‘Merican of mixed German (Swiss Amish) and Irish (Potato Famine). So I’ve got a German – Celt mix on both sides.

Looking deeply into Celt history, I found that “we” started out near the present Czech / Bavarian area. THE oldest beer making find is there. Burned barley grains where the smoking was done prior to the ferment. The Germans were just north, the Celts south, both partying in the same space together and making beer. To this day, that’s the place to get the best beer…

Germans and Celts started as “one group”, with the Slavs just next door near Slovakia / Ukraine. Slavs spread north east, Germans north and north west, Celts south (east and west). The line between Germans and Celts ran more or less through France, but there were pockets both sides. Belgium Celts, and the Germans who ran down to Spain… (Goths, Visigoths, etc.) In short, the Germans and Celts have been getting in each others pants forever.

Then Rome ran over the whole place and started calling us different groups. Rome broke up and we became “Nations”… France named for their German Franks instead of their Celt Gauls (though Gaulois and “galling” survive in use ;-)

Ancient Celts, pre-Rome, eventually divided into Italians and the Gaelic languages are part of an Italo-Celt group. So to some extent we could say that the whole of the Roman Empire was a Celt derivative thing… Though the Romans thought themselves special… Ancient Gaulish was nearly mutually ineligible with Latin, by some accounts. Gaelic of the islands became significantly different…

Some of those early Celts wandered off to invade, variously, Rome, Greece, Anatolia, and more over most of history. There was even a Celtic Mercenary Army hired by Ramesses ( I think it was R.II, but bears checking) who was himself a RedHead, as were a fair number of important Egyptians then… Not at all like the Arab type now running the place. Then there are those Tocharians in Asia that look to be Celt in build and tartans…

So at one time Europe was essentially a Germano-Celt place of a big tribe. Then we divided into dozens of sub-groups and now are called German, French, Italian, British, etc. etc. Now we’re all “mixing back” and thinking it different.

Oh, my spouse? “English – Irish” mix too… Has gotten an Irish Citizenship so someday we’re going to take a long vacation there…

And yes, Mum made Steak & Kidney Pie with the steak not being the main ingredient… We also had Beef Heart stew and strips and Liver & Onions remains a favorite of mine. Never really liked the Tongue Sandwich though… but Dad did. In a farm town where folks grow and dress their own meat, you eat all parts one way or another… Even “blood sausage” in the German style…

To this day I don’t understand how some folks can decide to only eat the muscle meats. Sooo boring!

BTW, you will find bagpipes being played in Argentina, Chile, and more in S. America, and across Europe from Czech to Italy and even into Anatolia. It’s a reasonable way to find where Celts have been, whatever they call themselves today… While modernity may not have been kind to the Celts of Virginia, many of us have done quite nicely… and spread all over the New World. Yes, mostly speaking Spanish, Portuguese, French and English, but so it goes. Note that in New York City, the police still play the pipes…

On The Weather Front

It’s continuing to rain here in droughty California. As we were already over the annual average precipitation, and this is supposedly one of the dry non-rain months, I’m finding it increasingly frustrating that they keep showing a big red blob over California in the news shows. IF this is a drought, I don’t want to see what happens when it rains…


My Son recently “corrected” me when I called a Melita drip coffee maker funnel thing a “Drip Coffee Maker”… he said it is properly called a “Pour Over”… I didn’t ‘correct his correction’ as I was busy thinking about when I’d “corrected” my Dad when he said “Drouth”… and I pointed out it was pronounced “drought”… only a few years later to learn that “drouth” was a perfectly fine form of the word… So now sometimes I use the word “drouth” just to remind myself to be more open minded… Next time I see The Kid I think I’ll make some Drip Coffee for him and talk about the drouth…

Later on I may add some screen captures on the present rain and document the “zero normal” for the month and how we’re way above zero now…

In Other News

Prince Died. All the news shows seem to be covering it “4 walled”… Somehow I don’t see why. An old singer with health issues dies, this is a surprise? So an autopsy is being done. Somehow they don’t ‘get it’ that the life style of constant on the road on the go is wearing… But maybe I’ll play some of his songs later. I like the “When Dove’s Cry” song especially…

It’s Earth Day. Somehow I’d not noticed. Probably ought to do something, but it’s too wet to BBQ… Maybe light a fire in the fireplace or turn up the furnace and drive the cold and damp out of the house…

The Stock Market bounced off of ‘near 18000’ yet again. It has very thin volume at those prices, more volume on down swings. Looking ‘toppy’ to me. It’s seemingly in a ‘rolling flat sideways’ pattern waiting for The Fed to actually do something. Can’t go up much as it’s already highly valued and earnings are NOT going to come in great for a lot of companies. Can’t go down much as there’s nowhere to invest, what with the RofW on the skids, China moping, bonds near (or below) zero interest rates, etc. So it “rolls sideways’ generating commissions for traders at tops and bottoms of the roll… BUT, when The Fed finally does start rate hikes, it will head down. Possibly hard. The big question just being how much patience folks will have waiting “for that day”… In an election year, everyone wants to paint a rosy economic picture, so expect The Fed to not rock the boat much until after the polls close, IMHO. The Talking Heads will try to “talk up the market” as a ‘record ever’ and ‘fairly valued’ and such. But the time to buy is at bottoms, not tops. I’ll put together some charts on this eventually. For now, I’m continuing sidelined, but thinking about some options… (there are option strategies to sell options in a flat market so that they expire worthless… how you make money in a sideways to nowhere market… or perhaps buy puts at those rounding tops and sell puts at the spike bottoms… that way you get “put” the stock on the cheap after taking in a large volatility premium, and pay small low vol premium when buying a put… Maybe I’m just bored… We’ll see.)

In Conclusion

Well, that’s it for now… I’m back to “slaving over a hot computer”…

FWIW, I drug out of storage my two oldest White Box PCs. On boot, one informed me that it had gone over 2000 days without a file system check… I took a photo of the screen ;-) One is a Caldera Linux from about 2001. It was my “daily driver” for many years. I still like the feel of that OS and was peeved when they tossed in the towel and quit. The other is a Red Hat 7.2 release (NOT RHEL the Enterprise series has different numbers…) that’s from about 2006, I think.

Booting up the old friends I was reminded that there is a fine line between Nostalgia and Beer Goggles… what had once seemed so fast and with such large disks, at 400 MHz AMD chip and 10 GB (that’s the disk… memory was a huge 80 MB with added SIMMS), now seem sooo slooooow and soooo small… And the simple fact is that the browsers can no longer talk to any web pages as time has moved on, and the other software is, well, not much use for docs and such either. Yes, the basic Unix like stuff is fine, but not things tied to the Rest Of World… So I’m planning a final decommission and perhaps a disposal. Wonder if a museum would like them? ;-) The Red Hat one is the one I first used for GIStemp, and there’s a photo of it on one of those pages. It has a 5 inch floppy in it, rescued from an even older box… It is my “read anything old” box… but I’ve not needed to use that feature in the last 2 decades so…

Both boxes have developed a ‘stochastic’ boot process. Each getting a little better with each boot, but sometimes hanging. I think some of the electrolytic capacitors may have started to depolarize being unpowered for a few years. They like having a charge across them and will slowly rebuild if possible. At least, that’s my theory and hope. About one of 3 tries would boot at first, now it’s more like 4 of 5 that boot. “It’s getting better!…”

Turns out neither one could talk with the Debian Raspberry Pi for NFS. Took me most of yesterday to work it out. I tried all sorts of things with hosts.allow and /etc/exports and iptabels and more… Then I finally figured it out. NFS (Network File System) has changed over the years. While the R.Pi runs NFSv4, and that is supposed to back off to v3 and eventually to v2, by the time it did that, the connect attempt timed out. Setting “nfsvers=2” in the /etc/fstab entry let me mount the Red Hat NFSx2 disks onto the R.Pi and suck off a final copy. Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve got all the data archived already, but prior to final decommission, it’s standard practice to “grab a spare copy”…

That let me copy off the Red Hat box. The Caldera not so much. More head scratching. Seems it is running NFS(no version level) as there was only one then. And the newer boxes will NOT talk “version 1”. BUT, the Red Hat box would. So the Caldera got connected to the Red Hat and things sucked over, then moved over to the R.Pi. If I’d started with the Red Hat box first on the NFS trials, I’d have figured it out a lot faster. Trying nfsvers=2 to a V1 box (and not being able to find it’s ‘version’ since they didn’t have any yet…) distracted for a long while.

Now I’m running way faster on a R.Pi 4 core almost 1 GHz box with GB of memory (instead of the 80 MB…) and with a 2 TB disk on it, that all up cost me under $120 including disks. And I no longer think it ‘slow’ and ‘almost fast enough’. After the Beer Goggles came off from a trip down Memory Lane in real time, I’m quite happy with how blindingly fast it is ;-) And with 100 Mb Ethernet instead of 10 Mb.

With that, time to get back to the job of unpacking the data, making sure I can uncompress / open / use the various files (and that I don’t actually need one of the old releases to deal with a no-longer-used format) and can finally dispose the old WB-PCs from long long ago.

Though in the process of trying to boot another of my machines I found that SLAX Linux CD does a nice thing, it has a PXE boot server version on the disk… So I might try just booting that on one of them and call it my PXE server, for now. Eventually I want a R.Pi version PXE boot, but the Evo has, once again, stopped talking to the CD drive, and an update of Debian on it did not fix the “occasionally hangs” due to the video driver having issues, so I need a PXE boot target for it, now. As a ‘quick fix’ it would let me get the Evo running (hopefully more stable) and get more experience with the PXE set up process and use. Then that Pi solution can take it’s own time.

So that’s what I’m going to be doing on this drought ravaged rainy day that’s too wet and cool for time out on the lounge chair in the garden… I sure hope Global Warming gets here faster, this cold and wet warm-drought is just miserable… ;-0

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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8 Responses to Bit Of A Grab Bag

  1. Verity Jones says:

    Nice sort of ‘what’on my mind’ post for a Friday evening. Made me smile. Thank you.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    You’re Welcome!

    I just didn’t have enough “oomph” to make a posting of of each bit (and the flooding drought in California has already been done a couple by me) and decided “Heck, just put it all in a potpourri…

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes Electrolytic capacitors will reform if you do not try to charge them too fast when they are not properly polarized. If that happens you usually end up executing a smoke test and need to get new ones. When I was doing electronic repair for a company that made photo ID cameras the electrolytic capacitors for the strobes would de-form when they were left in the closet for a year. First day of school they would pop capacitors if the user did not just flick them on and then shut them off. Let them set a while then do it again to apply some voltage to the plates of the cap. After a little while you could power them up normally and not fry the cap when it got near full charge voltage and decided arc and short across the plates was less work that pushing electrons through the photo tube.

    I have several old photo strobes that every 6 months or so I charge them up and fire the tube one time then let them recharge until the ready light comes on, then they go back into the drawer. Newer photo strobes detect the excessive leakage current of a deformed capacitor and take forever to charge up if they have not been used a long time. Makes you think they are dead, but they are just applying a trickle charge to the cap to let it reform the electrolytic layers without shorting.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    The context was a reply to a comment about the tendency for poor folks and especially rural Celt folks, to eat all parts of an animal, and how tasty it can be ;-)

    When you are on the verge of starvation and down to eating grass and bugs it tends to motivate you to eat everything which seems remotely edible. Over time you find ways to make it enjoyable or at least tolerable.

    From wiki

    Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead. According to the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique: “Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour”.

    It is believed that food similar to haggis (though not so named), perishable offal quickly cooked inside an animal’s stomach, all conveniently available after a hunt, was eaten from ancient times.

    The above shows the rational behind such offal dishes, it is only in food abundant countries that you can afford not to eat those bits of the animal. My dad would always get the chicken gizzards and necks (gibblets) from poultry. But then again he ran away from home when he was 14 and rode the rails trying to find work during the depression years. I have little doubt that more than a couple stolen chickens kept him alive until he found work in southern Colorado on a farm that raised pinto beans. His wages were a warm dry bed and all the beans he could eat. I know he did tell stories of stealing heads of cabbage out of a farmers field and eating the whole head while waiting for the next train to come through.

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    I must confess, I’ve eatten haggis. .. and I like it….

    Then again, I like liver more than steak and “savory innards” much more than “white meat”…

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    FRESH offal “cuts” contain the best nutrients of the kill. Only after the innards were consumed was the flesh cuts used as they could be stored or preserved. In fact the flesh cuts were better after some storage to break down the tissue and make them easier to digest. The main problem with the offal parts is they deteriorate very quickly and can not be saved for later use. Only immediate use or preservation of them is of value…pg

  7. cdquarles says:

    Come to the rural Old South, yeah the parts the Celtic Scots-Irish settled in and you’ll still find “Soul Food” diners serving ‘offal’. There was one in Greensboro, AL (might not be there now, though), that served chittlings and tripe or pickled pig’s feet/chicken feet with hot pepper (chili or hotter) seasoned collard greens.

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