I'll tell you what annoys me: the supermarket that sells fresh salmon by the piece instead of by the pound. I uncovered this deception recently. The sign in the seafood case at my favorite supermarket said, "Salmon $4.49," and, of course, I assumed that was by the pound, because salmon has been sold that way ever since the Yupiks brought the first chinook to Fairbanks for sale to the Lower 48. But turns out, the salmon was being sold by the 6-ounce piece. That means three pieces of salmon, or 18 ounces, cost $13.47. The way I do math — slowly, with a piece of paper and pencil on the kitchen table — that comes to about 75 cents an ounce, or $12 a pound. The deception went undetected until I got home and looked at the sticker on the plastic wrapping: "$4.49 ppc," meaning "per piece." I took the salmon back to the store and got a refund. I'm not going to identify the chain right now, because I want to give the management a chance to do the right thing and stop this fishy practice, designed to trick the nearsighted, the blue-haired and those of us accustomed to buying salmon in the time-honored way. I'm going to check the seafood case by Wednesday. By Wednesday the practice had better end, or I'm calling in a drone strike.
Since we're on the subject, I'll tell you what else annoys me:
•City Hall getting an expensive telephone system upgrade when kids don't have enough summer recreation.
•Any city coffee shop that doesn't offer its customers wi-fi. It's 2012 — are you kidding me?
•The governor of Maryland saying he was disappointed with the legislative work group's failure to reach consensus on expanded gambling. If the governor is hot for a sixth casino in the state, he should just say so, and clearly. He was invited, but we didn't see him at the opening of David Cordish's casino in Arundel Mills two weeks ago, so we assume the governor is not a fan and would like to stick it to Mr. Cordish with a sixth casino at National Harbor. Therefore, the governor ought to just call a special session of the legislature this summer and call the question. Pouting about the legislative work group's impasse on the issue and expressing disappointment with the speaker of the House — it's all so phony. Just call the session, twist some arms and get your sixth casino if you want it so much.
•The $20 pasta-anything entrees in restaurants. Even in 2012, I don't believe you get to charge people more than, say, $18 for any dish that is mainly pasta. But if a restaurant makes its own, and serves the pasta sparingly — highlighting the other ingredients — I'm fine with it. Therefore, I give my blessing to $22 for Spaghetti Neri Al Granchio at La Tavola's in Little Italy. This is black spaghetti (made with the ink of squid) tossed with Maryland crabmeat, fresh tomatoes and spinach in a garlic-laced white wine sauce. Excellent dish.
•It might seem odd to say so in a column about annoyances, but people who expressed annoyance with Sailabration really annoyed me. I heard everything: too many boats in the Inner Harbor and the Patapsco, causing wakes; too much noise from helicopters and the Blue Angels; not enough buses to shuttle people (for free) from the downtown stadium parking lots to Fort McHenry; not enough hotel rooms booked, so it couldn't have been that great an event for the city. As someone noted on Twitter: "Whining is a real first-world problem."
•The charge that the city's efforts to do something about the high density of liquor stores in low-income Baltimore neighborhoods smells of Big Brother and represents classic nanny-state overreach by government do-gooders. I wonder how many of those who defend these liquor stores live even within a mile of one.
•People who still want to argue that the Civil War was not about slavery.
• RG Steel at Sparrows Points owes the city $5.4 million for water, according to Baltimore Brew, and because the company has filed for bankruptcy, Baltimore might never collect the unsecured debt. Big corporations owned by billionaires get all the breaks, don't they? The rest of us would have been cut off when the balance reached $1.2 million.
This is Dan Rodricks' last column for the op-ed page. His column is moving back to the news pages this week. His email is email@example.com.