“I’m gonna do…”


I’m hearing this all the time now, from people of all ages and stations in life:

Customer: “Yeah, uhmmmm…. I’m gonna do a 6-inch meatball sub.”

Sandwich Artist®: “And what would you like to drink, sir?”

Customer: “Yeah, I’m gonna do a Coke.”

Where does this horrible locution come from? What is its etymology? Are linguists looking into this? Google is drawing a blank.

“Can I get…” is bad enough – a shameful mutation of the traditional “May I please have…” or the more up-to-date, but still polite “Can I have… please” / “I’ll have… please.” Apparently, we’ve reached another milestone in the descent into cultural barbarism. The next stage will be to jab your finger at the thing you want while grunting ferociously.

Jeez, people. Nobody expects you to talk like the host of Masterpiece Theater… but may you please try not to sound like an absolute moron? Thanks.

Is it really that hard?

Is public wifi going out of style? I often bring my laptop to cafés and coffee shops in downtown Chicago, intending to surf the internet and work. Almost invariably, I discover one of three things:

  1. There is no wifi at the café/coffee shop in question.
  2. There is wifi, in theory, but it’s so insanely slow and dysfunctional as to be unusable. (After spending several minutes trying to get online, I’ll gripe to the server and get a reply like: “Oh yeah, the wifi is terrible here. I’ve asked the manager to look into it.” Of course, it never gets better, even months later.)
  3. Wifi is available, but you’re not “supposed” to use it, because it’s not for customers, or the network belongs to an adjacent shop. (In these cases, the server will give me the password, sometimes scribbled on a ragged scrap of paper, with a conspiratorial whisper: “Don’t tell anyone I gave you this.” I am not making this up.)

Starbucks usually has fast and reliable wifi – but not always. Any other establishment, probably not.

Now, I’m not complaining. Life is good. A dearth of public wifi is very much a First World Problem that I wouldn’t even mention, except that I’m genuinely curious as to why this would be an issue in the bustling downtown of America’s third-largest city.

Seriously, what’s the deal? Is wifi just becoming a thing of the past? Are people so fixated on their phones that they don’t use their laptops for internet browsing or social media anymore, thus obviating the need for wifi?

My observation is that the few places that do offer wifi are often teeming with people on their laptops, suggesting that establishments with crappy or nonexistent wifi are leaving money on the table.

Is the technology really that daunting? Or is there something else going on?

Just askin’…

Spectacular idiocy

I like to think there is a special place in hell reserved for the people who created this regulation.

In a sane world, exchanging money for little discs of silicone hydrogel that you put on your eyeballs would be a thing you can do without government interference. But in America, people are apparently too stupid to be trusted to make their own decisions at the local LensCrafters. The law states that you need a prescription to buy contact lenses, every time.

In China, I would just walk into the nearest optical shop, tell the staff what strength I need, and buy a box of Accuvue Oasys lenses. It could not be simpler, or safer.


One of the downsides of living in a hyper-regulated society like America in the current year is that the simplest activities are often preposterously time-consuming and expensive.

An eye exam typically costs anywhere from $50 to $250. Vision insurance can defray this cost, but the insurance plan can set you back $150-$180/year (or maybe $50/year for an employer-provided plan). Contact lens prescriptions are only valid for 1-2 years in most US states.

The exams are also a headache to schedule if you have a full-time job and anything resembling a social life, since the doctors are never available on a walk-in basis, shops are closed on Sunday, etc.

Qui bono? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. In any case, it’s definitely not me.