Pig in a Poke

At work we discussing a project that we would design and then turn it over to another owner. My boss said that wouldn’t work because the other owner wouldn’t want a project that we had designed. That would be like buying a pig in a poke, he said.

I knew what he meant, but wondered what a “poke” was and what that referred to. According to Wikipedia and a few other sources, a poke is a bag. At markets people would sell a young (live) pig and put it in a burlap bag for the customer to carry home. But shady vendors would substitute some other, cheaper animal instead of a valuable baby pig. One animal they might use would be a cat. That way the buyer would know something was alive, but then end up with nothing of value.

So that’s kind of funny that you actually want a pig in a poke and would get stuck with a cat. But the other neat part is that if you investigated the contents before handing over your money, then you “let the cat out of the bag” and realized the vendor was trying to cheat you.

I guess it was so widespread that it spawned two different phrases that are still in use hundreds of years later. Some scam!


My friend Don, in Thailand, sends me links to articles on The Straight Dope every now and then. I got one from him today on The Metric System in the US. It’s a “classic” article so it was written in 1995 and hasn’t been updated. I started writing back to Don about our experience at work with the metric system, mostly after the article was written. I got a little carried away, so I decided to make it a blog entry.

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2nd Quarter Results

The second quarter of 2007 was my best quarter ever with Amazon by a good bit. I think I benefitted a lot from spring break and graduation season when people buy battery packs for the new iPods or for upcoming travel. I had $5,783 in sales, resulting in $263 in commissions. Battery pack sales were strong, with the Maxell battery pack nearly equaling the discontinued Belkin at its peak, with 51 of those sold during the period (one was returned). The next closest was the EZgear Powerstick, also powered by AA batteries, with 16 units sold. The others aren’t even worth mentioning. Another big seller was the PAC unilink adapter, with 19 of those sold via my iPod to Sony car stereo page.

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