Cleaning off my desk on New Year’s Day, I find a few random thoughts I never got to in 2006…

Does wiping an apple on my shirt do anything? I don’t know how old I was when I picked up that habit, but I find myself doing it unconsciously every time I have one. It can’t be for cleanliness reasons, anymore than running it under the faucet for four seconds and wiping it off with a paper towel guarantees the fruit is now bacteria-free. Then again, in all these years, no apple has ever made me sick. Maybe Taco Bell and Olive Garden should have their kitchen help wipe their vegetables on their shirts to guarantee they’re e-coli-free.

Among life’s little online frustrations is printing out several news articles from websites, only to discover after you’ve closed the windows and gone on to other things that some of the articles didn’t print out at all. Instead, you ended up with the ad from the top of that website, with none of the text you wanted. Now you have to go hunt up the link for the article again. That’s almost as annoying as spending an hour printing out a couple of dozen items, only to find that your printer was so low on toner that every page has a big blank streak down the middle. And you don’t have any new toner cartridges. And you have to leave for work in five minutes. Argh!

The US mint is at it again, trying to push dollar coins on an American public that has rejected them twice before. This time, they’re going to do it with coins honoring the Presidents and First Ladies, releasing four a year, in the order they served. They hope they’ll find success where it eluded them with Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, by getting kids and collectors to grab them up and hold onto them, as they’ve done with the quarters for all 50 states (a program that still isn’t complete). However, the mint has failed to realize that the quarters program works because it was a coin already in circulation, and even those of us who don’t collect coins still had to use them as regular currency. Vending machines and parking meters didn’t have to be changed; it took no adjustment to our coin usage. Dollar coins, on the other hand, are not part of our daily life and aren’t likely to become so anytime soon. If the mint really wants to honor the Presidents with coins, they should start and end with Harry Truman by realizing that The Buck Stops Here!

In the St. Louis region, our 314 area code was split in two a few years ago, and the 636 area code was added. Since then, there have been innumerable times when I’ve called someone in 636 from my 314 landline number and prefaced it with the digit “1” — and every time, I get that error message from AT&T reminding me that I do not have to dial the “1” to this adjacent area code. I know, it’s me, I never learn. The problem is that I do have to dial that “1” to adjacent area code “618” in Illinois, or if I call 636 from my 314 cell number, as I do whenever I call any other area code in the world. You’d think that, in a world where people have cell phones and other numbers they can keep with them forever, regardless of where they are (or have virtual fax numbers, like the 208 area code on my eFax account), that using that “1” would have become the industry standard and precede any ten-digit phone number I call. But you’d be wrong.