Friday, August 29, 2008

Separated at birth

Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin ...

... and fictional NBS writer Liz Lemon:

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Seat neighbor lotto

After a half hour delay in the terminal while US Airways replaced the duct tape on engine #2 of the San Francisco-bound A320 out of Phoenix, I was sitting in my window seat waiting for the other passengers to board.

A middle-aged woman was seated in the aisle seat in my row, with the middle seat still unoccupied. As I was enjoying a "carry-on cocktail" that I was able to sneak down the jetway, a voice came over the cabin intercom telling my fellow travelers and I that “we have a full flight today, so please place small carry-on items under the seat in front of you.”

Oy! Full flight, and me with the window seat. The only thing that could be worse is if I had the middle seat.

As passengers kept filing on, filling up the overhead bins and moving to seats in the rear of the plane, I began playing the seat neighbor lottery game with myself. You know how this goes, you take a look at each person that comes through the four “first class” rows, quickly sizing them up and mentally calculating how pleasant it would (or wouldn’t) be to have them sitting uncomfortably close to you for the next two hours.

The criteria are obvious. The smaller the better. You don’t want a huge person illegally crossing the armrest boarder and invading the sovereign territory of your seat. Don't get me wrong. God knows I'm no delicate flower myself. I'm reasonable, but COME ON PEOPLE!

Younger is better, too. I don’t need a hacking geriatric sitting next to me, devouring my soul with excruciatingly tedious stories about the olden days, coughing up a lung and generally harshing my mellow.

If you’re a dude, you’re hoping for a passenger of the female persuasion, because who wants to sit next to a guy smelling of cheap cologne. In fact, I suspect that if you’re a chick, you’re hoping to avoid sitting next to dudes as well. Let’s face it people, women are just a lot more pleasant to be around that guys.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt if they’re easy on the eyes. It may sound shallow (because it is), but nobody wants to sit next to Quasimodo through two time zones. Although, taking all factors into account, I’d rather sit next to a small ugly chick than a big, good-looking guy.

Anyway, knowing my luck, I was expecting a John Candy look-alike to win the lottery for the seat next to me. Each time a petite fox (do people still use that word?) came through, I would watch her continue to the back of the cabin or take a seat a few rows forward. Then a large ogre would saunter through with two gigantic carry-ons and I just knew he was coming for my row.

Then the line of passengers started to slow down. The saccharine sweet voice of the gate agent announced over the intercom “Passenger boarding is complete. Flight attendants, please secure the cabin for takeoff.”

“What’s this?” I thought to myself.

I began to feel a sense of what passes for excitement in the livestock shipping world of business travel. Could it be that I have a chance at winning the biggest prize in the seat-neighbor lottery? No, I dare not even hope that it might be the case. I dare not put my faith in fate only to have my hopes dashed at the last second.

But as the minutes passed, and fewer and fewer passengers were left to take their seats, I started to hope against all odds.

Finally, only one person remained. He was a smallish, athletic looking middle-aged man wearing casual khakis and a knit shirt. He stopped a few rows in front of me to jam his oversized carry on bag into not enough room in the overhead bin. Forcing the door of bin shut, he looked down into the cabin.

He walked closer, closer. I knew at that point he would sit next to me. It’s a full flight, after all. There’s one passenger left and hence, only one seat.

But NO! He kept walking! Turns out his seat was in the very back next to the twin lavatories (worst seats on the plane, my friends).

And now there was no doubt about it, I would spend the next two hours with room to stretch out my legs into the center seat. I would have plenty of elbow room, a place to put my magazines, room to pull out my laptop and get some work done.

I had won the jackpot in the seat neighbor lottery.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paddle game as metaphor

If you guys haven't been watching Mad Men on AMC, then I can only conclude that you a) don't have a TV, b) have a TV but don't know how to use it, c) are one of the slobbering idiots responsible for convincing the TV networks that America needs more Deal or No Dancing with America's Top Survivor Idol shows.


I caught a three or four episodes of the first season when they aired, but could never figure out the schedule enough to make it "appointment" TV. Luckily, during a recent staycation, my Supermodel Wife and I discovered the entire first season on Time Warner Cable's ON Demand service.

Season one was fantastic. We watched all of the episodes before jumping in to season two.

Because the first season was so good, I half expected a drop-off for the second season. Let me just say that I continue to be surprised and impressed. I appreciate how producer and writer Matthew Weiner takes risks with all of the characters. In one episode, the audience is led to feel sympathy for a one character and revile another. Then, later, the roles become reversed.

And there are so many subtle jokes woven into the production -- jokes that the characters themselves aren't aware of but that are more of a wink or a nudge from the directors to the audience.

One example from this week's episode is when one Pete Campbell, a junior account exec at the ad firm, is giving a semen sample at the fertility clinic. He enters the private room with a sample cup, reviews some of the "literature" available to help get him in the mood, then...

The scene cuts to one of the firm's partners hitting a paddle game ball in his office. An obvious metaphor for what the junior exec is doing at the moment. Priceless.

This attention to subtlety and detail (the 1960s universe is meticulously recreated from the characters' wardrobe to the ubiquitous cigarette smoke, chauvinism and minibars) make this series stand apart from 90 percent of the fare currently being broadcast.

This series is a great piece of work, which means that it will probably be canceled after this season. So start watching it while you can. It's just too good to last.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The more things "change"

I think it's mostly the religious Obamists who were surprised at the selection of Joe Biden as Barack's VP.

Most reasonable people knew the whole "change" line was just a load of political BS.

It doesn't take any kind of special insight, just an acknowledgment of one of humanity's oldest truisms. Maybe this chart can help clarify.

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Today's Wordle: 08.23.08

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics, schmolympics

A lot of people have been sharing their thoughts about the Olympics. Everyone seems to have caught the Olympic fever.

Me? I just can't seem to get into it. Believe me, I've tried. But I don't know, everything just seems so corporate and overproduced.

I've tried to be interested. Hell, with five or six channels of Olympic coverage, they certainly make it easy to follow. Problem is, every time I try to tune in on the teevee machine, I end up tuning out mentally.

But with the closing ceremonies starting today, or tomorrow, or within the next few days or whatever, I thought I'd give a few thoughts on what little I have seen.

Here's what I managed to force myself to sit through:
  • Part of the opening ceremonies: I saw that part where 2,008 Chinese guys were pounding drums in unison. Impressive? Yes. Scary?... Well, let me just say that it's not a huge leap to go from carrying a drum mallet to carrying a rifle. You tellin' me you don't think that was a military display?

  • Synchronized diving: What? I'm sorry but this must be one of the lamest of the so-called sports. Yes, I agree that the athletes are... well.. athletic. But is it a sport? More on this later.

  • Bob Costas: Am I the only one who thinks Bobski looks like he's suffering from a case of permanent jet lag? Could be just the High Definition TV, but he's looked really tired every time I've seen him (about three times). Also, does he wear a hairpiece now?

  • Michael Phelps: Did you notice how nobody gives a crap about swimming when the Olympics aren't going on? Still, good job for Mr. Phelps on his history-setting performance. But if I know the American viewing public (and let's face it, I AM the American viewing public), nobody will remember his name when the next season of Deal or No Dancing with America's Top Survivor Idol starts.

  • That weird sport that is kind of like hockey on a basketball court but without sticks and using soccer goals: What the hell is the deal with that sport anyways?

  • Women's gymnastics: I guess having an American get screwed by the Chinese judges should piss me off. Unfortunately, I couldn't give less of a shit about these dwarf women swinging around on bars. Look, I don't even consider gymnastics to be much a sport. Sure, like the divers, they're athletic. But for me, if a judge (or panel of judges) is making subjective decisions on wins, then that makes it more of an exhibition than a competition. As you saw the other night, the judges have too much influence on the outcome. Now, show me full contact sudden death gymnastics and you'll have my attention.

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Friday Blogthing: Go to Helvetica

I like this. It gives me an excuse when I'm at parties to say "It's not that I'm boring, it's just that you don't 'get' me."

You Are Helvetica

Your life is ultra modern and ultra streamlined.

You don't get bogged down in details or decoration.

You like to think that you're the epitome of style and taste.

People either totally get you - or they think you're boring and generic.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Electric Emu

What the hell is the deal with Florida cops and their Tasers?
Bay County Sheriff's deputies were forced to use a Taser to subdue an escaped emu named Plop-Plop. The large female bird escaped from a farm last weekend and on Monday, she holed up with some horses and goats in a pen.

When deputies arrived, the emu "went kind of crazy," said Sheriff's deputy Randolph Grob.

The deputies didn't want the bird to hurt itself or them, so the used the Taser stun gun to immobilize Plop-Plop.

The emu was brought to the Bay County Animal Control Center, where she has made a full recovery. The bird's owner is expected to take her home soon.
Next time I go to Florida, remind me to wear my rubber long underwear. Sheesh!

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With the new school year now in full swing, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the recent brouhaha between the Independence and Kansas City Metropolitan school districts.

For those of you in Johnson County who aren't used to the drama of dysfunctional government, let me summarize the events:

A group of concerned Independence residents finally became fed up with enough with the perceived mismanagement of the schools and the continual lack of academic progress. They decided they wanted to abandon the rest of the district and hitch up with neighboring Independence School District.

The plan went to a vote, was passed, and the schools officially swapped districts. Unfortunately, weeks of legal wrangling followed where KCMSD did it's best to not let the schools go, asking for mo' money and locking Independence officials (and janitors) out of the buildings.

It provided much fodder for bloggers and commenters to remark how the KCMOSD officials were behaving like adolescents (or, as Heather puts it " bitchy ex-wives dividing property with their ex-husbands").

But as you all know, I like to look at the bright side of things. I think now is a good time to look at the important ways the KCMSD is helping the entire community of Kansas City, Missouri.

For example, thanks to the KCMSD school board, literally BILLIONS of dollars have been distributed into the community. The school board and administration had developed a fine art of distributing the districts largess (and the largess of the state and federal governments, to boot) in the form of kickbacks, bribes, payoff, sweetheart deals and other graft.

Can you imagine what the community would be like without that kind of influence?

Also, let's not forget the success the KCMSD has had in ridding the city of those nasty white people. Let the Liberty and Independence, Overland Park and Olathe schools have those pasty, uncultured, non-diversity, vampires who suck the life from KC and spoiled little girls who are partying on somebody else's dime. I say good riddance to them!

So stand up and celebrate, residents of Kansas City, Missouri. The school board you have elected is doing okay by you.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who doesn't love a caption contest?

Just riffin' on Tony...

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Tails of the weird

I squinted skeptically as I heard the story relayed to me fourth-hand.

My Supermodel Wife had heard it from my mother-in-law who had relayed it from my my SMW's grandmother who had heard it from my SMW's uncle. If you had trouble following that, don't worry. It's all relative.

Anyway, the point is I was about four degrees removed from the horses mouth on this one, and as REO Speedwagon reminds us, tales grow taller on down the line.

But here's what I heard (this makes you guys fifth in line): SMW's uncle was swathing wheat (whatever that means) on the family farm in north central Kansas. As he was driving the swather around the field, he saw a strange looking animal running around.

It was about the size of a small dog, but hairless with a naked tail like a rat and gnarly looking fangs. He took note but, as he had a lot of field to mow and a limited amount of daylight, he kept swathing.

Then, some time later, he felt something hit the blades of the swather in a way that plants usually don't. Getting down, he saw that the animal had been nesting in the field and that he had run over it, slicing it in half with the farm implement.

He told the story to his mother (my SMW's grandmother), who told my mother-in-law, who told my SMW, who told me (stick with me here, I know it's confusing), she (grandmother) noted that she had seen a similar critter skulking around her farmhouse nearby, and that it had eaten one of her chickens.

Anyway, upon inspecting the bisected corpse, my uncle-in-law noticed how strange looking the animal was. It didn't look like anything he had seen around those parts. Hairless, big fang in the middle of its mouth, rat-like tail, about the size of a coyote, eats chickens.

I know what your thinking, and it's not Mark Mangino. My uncle-in-law came to the conclusion that it was none other than the legendary Chupacabra.

They've been spotted before, and in case you're not a watcher of late-night sci-fi television, here's a blurb from wikipedia:
Chupacabra is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter's Latin American communities.

The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats. Physical descriptions of the creature vary. Eyewitness sightings have been claimed as early as 1990 in Puerto Rico, and have since been reported as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile. Most biologists and wildlife management officials view the chupacabra as an urban legend.
You can understand my skepticism. I would have had the same reaction if they said they had sliced Bigfoot in half.

No. In my expert opinion we have a coyote, possibly suffering from a genetic condition known as "larrymoritis", with severe case of the mange.

But, as many of you already know, my motto is "Be skeptical, but keep an open mind, and pass the whiskey." So I'm just going to put this out there for you guys to decide for yourselves.

Oh, c'mon. You knew there would be pictures...

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Random photo XIII: State flower

Now that summer is winding down, the sunflowers we planted in our backyard garden are just blooming.

I wanted to snap a quick shot while they were still in all their glory. Here's what they looked like this morning.

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Youtube Tuesday: Nite Fite

One of the funnier "original programming" options available on the interwebs these days is Nite Fite with hosts Penalty and Lloyd.

An entertaining send up of your typical obnoxious cable channel talking heads, Penalty and Lloyd have tackled such issues as the fate of the dinosaurs, stick shift vs automatic and Morgan Freeman in their firs half dozen episodes.

In this episode they host Schism of The Wang Warriors and take on the most offensive, repulsive form of music out there. Hey, entertaining and informative...

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Monday, August 18, 2008

3AM Salutes Phill Kline

3 A.M. Salutes Real Men of Genius
(Real Men of Genius)

Today we salute you...
Mr. Abortion-fixated soon-to-be-former County Attorney guy.
(Mr. Abortion-fixated soon-to-be-former County Attorney guy!)

Though you've practiced law for only six short years, you've shown us all the importance of qualified candidates for state and county offices.
(The world needs bad examples too!)

You've never lost sight of the fact that, much like yourself, the law is a tool.
A tool not only to be used for justice, but for the heavy handed pursuit of personal agendas.
(What a gigantic tool!)

Though some have called you greedy, callous and exploitative, through it all you've kept your mind closed and your mouth open. You've let all men know that Phill Kline's best asset is his lie ability.
(The extra "L" is for "Loser")

No matter how many laws you had to break, or lives you had to ruin, you've always made sure your $upporters got their money's worth.
(Has the photo op started yet?)

So file one last injunction, oh sniffer of young girls' panties. Because even though your career has had a late-term abortion at the state and county levels, there's still a seat at the local bar for you.
(Real Men of Genius!)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Adventures in plumbing

It was one of those deals where they say they'll be there "between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. We'll give you a call and let you know when we're on our way."

So I took the time off to head home at about 11. Luckily, I got the call on my cell from Mario McPipewrench (I call all plumbers Mario) that he was on his way, and how do I get to your house from 95th and Antioch?

Anyway, he arrived shortly after I did. I escorted him to the master bathroom and demonstrated the clogged sinks. I offered my opinion on what the problem is (the drain is clogged somewhere beyond the p-traps). He gave a few thoughtful nods and considered the problem for a few moments before heading out his truck to get his gear.

I headed downstairs to check email as he started to open the drain cleanouts. A minute or two later I heard the menacing sound of the metaphorical colonoscopy as the drain snake ground its way through internal passages of our house's sewer system.

After several minutes of snaking, I remarked to myself how much aggressive noise the snake was making. Shortly after that it stopped, and I heard the master bathroom sinks turn on to test the drain flow.

Then, as I sat checking Twitter, I heard a tock sound, like a clock missing its tick. It was coming from the lower level bathroom a few feet away. I went to investigate and saw water dripping from the ceiling onto a half-used box of Kleenex, making the steady drumbeat of a water clock.

I hurried upstairs to deliver the good news to Mario.

"Hey, I think you broke a pipe. There's water coming through the ceiling downstairs."

Mario appeared to be overjoyed at the news. He followed me to the downstairs bathroom and saw the drip drip dripping of the drain directly above. After a quick Direct Connect to his manager to get clearance to continue the repair, he told me he would have to break into the ceiling to check the pipes.

It was my turn to be overjoyed.

I stood back while he cut a 16 by 16 inch square in the sheetrock ceiling. Two chunks of ceiling fell on the commode below, and I could see the black stain of sewer grease on the side that was closest to the pipe.
The leak was coming from a joint fitting where three pipes came together. Mario inspected the situation for a few minutes, isolating the leak and determining the best way to fix it. He concluded that a rubber gasket patch affixed with hose clamps was the easiest way to proceed. I had my doubts and wondered aloud whether it would be better to simply replace the entire fitting.

Mario must not have heard me.

When he had finished installing the gasket patch, which I unhappily determined was the plumbing equivalent of a Band-Aid, he went upstairs to turn on the faucets and test the patch.

Just as my superior plumbing instincts had predicted, the leak continued through a seem in the patch. I apprised Mario of the situation and suggested, a little more forcefully, that a replacement of the entire fitting might be in order.

He agreed and set to work removing the old pipes with a reciprocating saw.

The heat of the saw blade on the iron pipes mixed with the contents of the pipes to produce an aroma that I can only describe as burnt shite. Imagine the worst smoker's breath you've ever smelled. I'm talking the three packs a day, hasn't brushed his teeth in a week, just drank coffee with lots of cream, sour ass smoker's breath. Mix it with a healthy dose of burned, rusty iron. Take all that and add shit, and that is what the smell was like.

I actually felt kind of bad for Mario as he cut the first pipe and was showered with a stinking sticky stream of black sewer grease. I provided a few rags from my basement workbench for him to clean up.

Time passed, and eventually he had the new fitting installed.

We turned the faucets on again to check that there were no leaks. After a few minutes, we were satisfied, and Mario did his best to cleanup the black streaks on the wall and floors. I suggested we throw away the now-soiled rags.

So in the final analysis, we now have cleared drains and a new joint fitting. Those are pluses. We also have a hole in the ceiling of our downstairs bathroom, but our home warranty company will take care of fixing that. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on the new fitting to make sure it doesn't start leaking.

On the downside, we'll need to repaint the walls and ceiling of the bathroom. But we probably would have done that anyway.

Also, I got a nice long blog post out of the deal. So there's that.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

How to peel a banana

The other day we were having dinner with my mom and dad.

The various twists and turns of idle conversation eventually brought us around to the topic of bananas. My Supermodel Wife, for instance, doesn't like the texture of them. I love the taste of bananas, as long as they're ripe (very yellow with lots of brown freckles). My moms says she likes them a little under-ripe, still with a little green on the skin.

Anyway, my pops chimes in with this little tidbit:

"Did you know that if you peel a banana upside down, from the bottom where the seeds are rather than the top, where the stem is, you don't have all those stringy things to pull off?"

"Really?" I said. "Are you serious?"

"Absolutely, that's how apes eat them."

I was a little skeptical. My dad has a way of making up a lot of stuff and trying to pass if off as fact, like the time he tried to tell us that snow actually is a result of ground moister seeping up through the soil and being blown up into the air by harsh Kansas winter winds.

Anyway, it seemed to make a little sense. After all, bananas do grow upside down, so maybe that's nature's way of telling us that's how your supposed to peel them.

Well, rather than wonder if it true or not, I decided to get all scientific on your asses and do my own little version of MythBusters. So I bought a banana for lunch and decided to try this experiment in reverse banana peeling.

The first step it to cut off the bottom (witch is actually the top) of the banana. Normally, you can just break the stem and peel back the skin. But with no stem on the bottom, there's no leverage to pull. So I just used a steak knife I keep in my credenza for cutting bananas and self defense.

Note that I cut the tip of the banana high enough to remove the seeds and leave a nice finger hold for gripping the strips of skin.

So all that is left to do is peel down the skin.

As you can see the skin comes off in much the same way as peeling down from the stem. As for the stringy bits of banana flesh that you typically get, well, I still got a few small ones with this banana-peeling method. But I must say, they were much fewer and much shorter than normal.

So I think I'll declare this myth CONFIRMED! Peeling a banana from the bottom is a superior banana-peeling method.
Fun Fact: One medium banana (100 g) is a good source of vitamin A; a source of vitamins B6 and C, and copper; contains 0.3 g of fat, of which 33% is saturated; provides 3 g of dietary fibre; supplies 86 kcal (360 kJ). The sodium content is low (1.2 mg/100 g) so bananas are used in low-sodium diets.
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Movie Mini Review: Mama Mia

Title: Mama Mia!

Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Plot summary:
A bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried) hatches a scheme to determine who her father is by secretly inviting three of her mother's former lovers to the wedding. Her mother Donna (Streep) is surprised by the sudden appearance of these men from her past. Hilarity ensues as Sophie tries to figure out who her true father is to the soundtrack of pop supergroup ABBA's greatest hits .

My thoughts:
Last week was a work week vacation for my Supermodel Wife and I. We had a list of home improvement projects as long The D's rap sheet, but we still wanted to make sure we did something fun on our vacation. So we chose Thursday as a movie night, taking advantage of the $5 weekday admission to see Mama Mia.

Going in, I expected an estrogen-packed chick flick. But since my Supermodel Wife was interested in this movie and not-so-interested in The Dark Knight, I suggested we check out Mama Mia because I'm a helluva guy.

I don't regret the decision. The suffering cause by sitting through this movie was more than made up for in the huge amount of chivalry points I earned.

That said, this movie was hard to sit through. I found my self physically cringing at times as the cheesiness hit Limburger levels. Within the first ten minutes, I felt I had met my Waterloo and was ready to send an SOS. But I battled through the to bitter end, because I'm a super trouper.

And it wasn't, as one might suspect, because of the music. I'm not ashamed to say I really like the music of ABBA. Maybe it's just nostalgia talking, but the music has always seemed to have an earnest pop optimism, not to mention great wall-of-sound production and musicianship that seems rare these days.

And maybe that's what made it worse. Seeing this music that I love cheesed up on the big screen (like it wasn't cheesy enough already) was just too much for me to handle. The songs (most of which we all know by heart) were a limiting factor on the story. Dialog and situations were contrived to simply to introduce the next song and not necessarily to advance the plot, resulting in leaps of logic too large even for a Broadway show.

The story and characters were pretty boilerplate. I think there was an episode of Eight is Enough or The Brady Bunch that followed the same storyline.

Anyway, I hate to bash too much. There were a few patches of silver lining, one of which was the performance of Amanda Seyfried as the lead character.

I recognized the up-and-coming actress from her work on HBO's Big Love. It struck me as interesting that in that series she portrays a character with multiple mothers, whereas in Mama Mia!, she portrays a character with multiple fathers. Anyway, she's a fresh face, quite fetching and her acting wasn't as over the top as others in the movie.

Also, I'd like to give kudos to Pierce Brosnan for attempting the singing role. Took guts. As a beer-swilling hetero male, I'm secure enough to say that the former Remington Steele makes a pretty good looking upper-middle aged man. But God bless'im, he just doesn't have a great singing voice.

The star of the movie, in my opinion, the best part (aside from the ending) was the scenery. Filmed primarily on the Greek island of Skopelos, the sweeping vistas and intimate ocean inlet settings had me planning a Greek getaway for our next vacation.

My final rating: Don't Take a Chance on it.

Favorite quote:
"Does she wear it or floss with it?"

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Home improvement

I'm back from staycation this week.

Did some fun things that I think I'll get a few posts out of (stay tuned), but mostly my Supermodel Wife and I focused on several home improvement projects that we had on our list.

Of course, such projects necessitated multiple trips to the hardware store. Speaking of which, this Home Depot commercial gives new meaning to the word "hardware."

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Monday, August 04, 2008

A vacation from ourselves

We're staying on vacation this week.

Well, not that we've been on vacation, but we're not actually "going" anywhere either. We're taking vacation, but staying home. It's your classic "staycation" or "holistay."

Anyway, posts may be even rarer than usual around here.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

hokey pokey

A few weeks ago I received the following email from my little brother in North Dakota (or as I call it, NoDak):
We still haven't had any snow since May, but I'm not ready to rule it out.

I raised the question to Dad about the origin of the phrase "rule of thumb" when you guys were here for G's Baptism. Since then I have been exposed to another phrase that I need help with.

"Don't buy a pig in a poke"

I understand this to mean: Don't buy some thing (or idea) until you know exactly what you are getting."

But what is the connection?
Ah yes, perplexing questions indeed. Luckily I was well equipped (or at least quipped) to answer.

Here's the email I sent in reply:
Re: Your question about the "Pig in a Poke."

As you may know, I'm a bit of an expert on word origins. You might say I'm a cunning linguist. Anyway, I thought I'd finally respond by bringing my considerable brain power to bear on your question.

Like many modern expressions, the phrase "don't buy a pig in a poke" is a linguistic hand-me-down from our Middle Ages English forefathers (and foremothers).

Back in jolly old England, a "poke" was a kind of sack used generally to carry things around. Your typical lower-level medieval henchman, for example, might use it to carry around loot from his latest pillaging. A Shakespearean actor might use it for the conveyance of quill pens or frilly collars or Lee Press On Nails.

Serfs and peasants were big users of pokes. Dentally-challenged farmers would use them to carry potatoes, cabbages and other produce to market in the local village where they would barter and trade for necessities brought by dentally-challenged English merchants -- things like cloth, tools, deodorant and the like.

This was a pretty good system, and worked fairly well as a rule -- so long as everyone followed the unwritten social contracts of middle-age England. The problem, of course, arose when certain not-so-savory individuals tried to game the system.

These individuals, these rubes (who, we can assume, were the forefathers of energy company executives and mortgage loan brokers) often tried to cheat the unsuspecting peasant out of hard-earned cabbage by trying to pass off a nasty, feral cat as a nice tasty pig.

So the trusting peasant would trade his cabbage for a "pig in a poke" expecting a nice dinner of ham and back bacon, only to find a big sour puss in the bag when he got it home.

Of course, the English peasant being no fool, word quickly got around that you shouldn't "buy a pig in a poke." You should first look in the bag and make sure you're getting the pork and not the shaft.

And, as proverbs tend to do, the advice came to mean you should seriously look into any statement made by sellers of pork (including energy company execs and mortgage loan brokers).

And that's... One To Grow On®

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Friday Blogthing: Colonized

Excuse me, I just need to go wash my hands...

1,977,360How Many Germs Live On Your Keyboard?
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