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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. A software consultant describes a government software "project from hell". A little after noting that the project consisted of six million lines of code, he provides a couple of anecdotes, one being:
At some point end-users reported that "Load data from CD-ROM" did not work at all. This one took several weeks to sort out, but in the end the bug report was flagged as 'already solved', because data were indeed being loaded. The only point was that it took 7 straight days for 700 MBytes to get in. Patience is a virtue.
The whole bureaucratic setup screams featherbedding, but for the fact that average staff turnover time was "3 months, the legal time to leave your job in France." It warms the heart to know that pride -- or at least the desire for sanity -- can beat the temptation of job security for so many.

2. Do you have a common surname? If so, you can consult this map to see in how many states it ranks in the top three.

3. A couple of years ago, I got wind of a couple of once-common dietary items that have now been all but forgotten. We can now add yaupon tea, a drink, to the list that includes skirret and ground nuts.
Ilex_vomitoria.jpg
Ilex vomitoria: It's not just for gardening anymore. (Image via Wikipedia
Cassina, or black drink, the caffeinated beverage of choice for indigenous North Americans, was brewed from a species of holly native to coastal areas from the Tidewater region of Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was a valuable pre-Columbian commodity and widely traded. Recent analyses of residue left in shell cups from Cahokia, the monumental pre-Columbian city just outside modern-day St. Louis and far outside of cassina's native range, indicate that it was being drunk there. The Spanish, French, and English all documented American Indians drinking cassina throughout the American South, and some early colonists drank it on a daily basis. They even exported it to Europe.
One of the factors causing this drink to disappear was the small ... marketing ... problem caused by the Latin name assigned to the plant: Ilex vomitoria. Contrary to the name, the plant doesn't induce vomiting, but the association is certainly there. Interest in yaupon tea is only now making a tentative comeback.

4. Also at Gastro Obscura is an amusing piece on the commonality of family recipes that actually come from such sources as labels from common items:
When Meyer arrived, the sous chefs had a big bowl of potato salad that brought back memories of his grandmother. He tried it, smiled, and told the chefs, "That's exactly right." They grinned back at him mischievously. Eventually, Meyer broke and asked, "What's so funny?" A chef pulled out a jar of Hellman's mayonnaise and placed it on the table. Meyer looked at it, then realized that the secret recipe his grandmother had hoarded for years was on the jar. It was the official Hellman's recipe for potato salad.
But don't laugh too hard: Sometimes manufacturers change their products or recipes. The few people who notice this and make adjustments end up being the only ones who can make these things the way others have grown accustomed to.

-- CAV

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