As you go along in life you find that most other people are doing something wrong. With maturity we learn to accept those wrong things as idiosyncracies that make all of us individuals. However, there are some things that are just so wrong that they become irritants every time one hears or sees them, and this is my opportunity to get them off of my chest. If only one person sees something here that they're guilty of and quits doing it, I'll consider myself a lucky man and will die satisfied.
This is my personal list; these probably aren't universal, but there are some things on here that most people will have on their own list. There is no significance to the order of things on this list; they're added on as I think of them. I don't have time to prioritize which of these irritants bother me the most, not to mention the fact that my detractors don't need any ideas on how to best get my goat.
- People who write (or say) “walla” when they're indicating completion of a task or chain of logic. It's voila. I think they heard it pronounced correctly somewhere, just not clearly. It was pointed out to me recently that although I have successfully railed about walla and properly provided the correct word, that some folks not conversant in French may not know how to properly pronounce voila, leaving me in the position of “if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.” So, for my friend Tom Del Rosso, it's pronounced vwa-la.
- Woodworkers who refer to a jointer as a joiner. A joiner is a workman who makes cabinetry. A jointer is a machine that flattens wood and straightens the edge.
- Similarly, some woodworkers insist on referring to a planer as a planner. A planer is a machine which makes two faces of a piece of wood parallel. A planner could be a note book or someone in charge of arranging events.
- Spelling issues. Okay, I'm a spelling snob. It's my problem, but I can't help writhing in pain when I see people writing opps instead of oops (isn't there a word for that sort of transmogrification?), prolly instead of probably, and a host of others I may add as I run across them again.
- Verbification. The act of taking a perfectly good noun, such as disrespect, and using it as a verb. Both ignorant street slang and governmentese are sources of much of this.
- People who haven't learned to properly use they're, there, their or your, you're. Also, affect, effect. I've become much less tolerant of this recently.
- Drivers who go for miles with their turn signal on. Contrary to popular belief, this phenomenon is not unique to Florida. Down here, we don't use turn signals at all!
- As long as we're on driving, why do some people always back into a parking space? The part of parking with the least margin for error is getting into a spot, and they choose the most difficult motoring skill (backing up) requiring the most precision going into the smallest area to do that instead of the easiest (driving/steering forward), requiring less precision going into the largest area. I don't get it. (Since I wrote this, I've heard some dissenting opinions. Some seem to be reasonably founded, but the backing I've witnessed has always seemed more of an affectation than an act based on sound thinking. I stand by my peevedness)
- Software program. In the '60s I learned that there was hardware (the machine and its components) and software (the programming that runs it or runs on it). Software program is thus redundant.
- I could care less. If something is so insignificant that you couldn't be bothered with it, there is likely nothing even less significant; at least that's what people are trying to express when they say this. But if there isn't anything less significant, then you couldn't care less. If you could, there wouldn't be any point in making the assertion. Here's an excellent discussion on this misused phrase.
- Website developers who, working on faster and faster machines, fail to recognize that testing all the fancy new code locally doesn't help those several of us in the field still stuck with a dialup. Not everyone has broadband, and it's easy to forget then when one's testing is not done over the air.
- Wind chill. The media seem to want to report colder weather in terms of wind chill now instead of actual temperatures. I take considerable issue with this practice, but instead of cluttering up this paragraph with a whole page of argument, just read my whine here.
- When did we change the formula for chocolate milkshakes? In my yout' back in the '50s, when we went to the local ice cream emporium and ordered a chocolate milkshake (or a chocolate sundae—same foundation) the “jerk” (terminology from before my time) would throw a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream into the container, a few squirts of chocolate syrup, some milk, then put the container into the mixing stand. After a few minutes, voila! (see above), a chocolate milk shake. Sometime in the '80s I noticed the “jerks” (more conventional terminology this time) putting chocolate ice cream into the container at which point I had to disabuse them of the efficacy of that particular recipe. It became so endemic I had to specify the vanilla ice cream each time for what should have been a default standard formulation (by itself a pet peeve of mine). I encountered the last straw just the other day. I went into a chain gourmet ice cream emporium and ordered a chocolate milk shake. The “jerk” (no explanation this time—I'm sure you'll figure it out) asked me which kind of chocolate I wanted. “Excuse me?” I replied. She offered me one of the two or three kinds of chocolate ice cream. When I told her vanilla, she said, “we don't have chocolate syrup.” Can you believe that? When did we change the formula for chocolate milkshakes?
Last updated: 27 January 2009