Archive for January, 2015

Excel escapes me

I keep the records of donations given to Jessica.  I use an Excel spreadsheet to do this.  It’s a slightly complicated beast that Scott set up for me a few years ago.  It calculates totals and averages and things like that, and it has a separate sheet for each month.  Therein lies the rub.  Over a year ago, I had created a bunch more monthly sheets, but they only went through February 2015.  Since February is now upon us, today was the time to make more worksheets (much like “time to make the donuts”).

Now, it having been so very long ago that I had last added new sheets to the beast, I didn’t remember the details of how to do it, so I started looking at the formulas in the various cells to try to figure out exactly what I needed to do.  I did remember that this had been an incredibly frustrating little procedure the last time I tackled it, and in that, my memory proved painfully accurate.

At one point, I was looking at this formula:  =H2+’Oct 2014 (29)’!12  But on my computer screen, I couldn’t tell whether or not there was a space between the 4 of 2014 and the open parenthesis.  So I did something that seemed innocent enough to me, but evidently was strictly forbidden; I dared to put my cursor to the right of the 4 and then – shock and horror! – click to see if there was a space beside it.  Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!  This is blatantly illegal in Excel!!!  If any fool is stupid enough to violate this unwritten law, his or her entire Excel spreadsheet – not just the specific worksheet on which s/he placed the cursor and clicked, oh, no! – will be completely hosed.

And so it was.

And so I was maximally frustrated.

And so I sent Scott an email asking him to please fix the stupid spreadsheet when he got home.

And so I decided to scrap the whole stupid spreadsheet (which has given me various fits through the years, anyway) and create a new one that actually makes sense to me, which works for me, which I can update on my own, and to which I can add as many new months as I jolly well please.

And said creation took me about an hour-and-a-half.

It was indescribably tedious and, since no formulas could be copied and pasted, I did all the manual work of typing 36 different formulas about as complicated as the one above.  But I did eventually get the silly thing to do what I wanted it to do, and I did, yea and verily, feel competent.

And Scott came home and offered to fix the old one.  Which he did, and then he showed me how to add the sheets I needed.  Which I did on the spot (well, on the 15 minutes) because it was so detailed and complicated (well, not for the average 21st century brain, but definitely for mine) that I knew if I didn’t do it RIGHT THEN I’d never remember how to do it.  And I added months through January 2017.  I was going to go through March 2017, but I made some dumb mistake in February 2017, which I couldn’t figure out how to fix, so I just deleted February and March and left well enough alone, thinking, “at least I won’t have to add any more sheets for a couple of years!”

Much was time eaten, but my mission was accomplished.  The main thing was that I proved that I really can figure out how to make Excel do certain things.  I cannot, however, figure out how to make it do anything that involves going from one worksheet to another; although this is okay, because, given that I have lived 54 years without having to personally make Excel calculate between two worksheets, it’s fairly likely that I will be able to live the rest of my natural life quiet successfully without ever having to make it do so.

Note To Whom Whichever Programmers It May Concern:  Since computers and programs are now so darn smart, they definitely should display warnings stating that they will implode if normal humans do perfectly logical things.  For example, if simply clicking on a space in a formula is going to cause my entire collection of 20+ worksheets to significantly malfunction, then it’s really not asking too much to have the program give me some sort of notification of that fact beforehand.  Really.

Mobile home

When Josiah drove away in “his” car on January 10 – that would be the Honda (“Frozone) to which we have officially and ceremoniously given him full rights and for which he now carries ALL responsibilities (although we are currently retaining the title, simply because it’s a lot less expensive for us to legally own the car and have him to pay us for his insurance) – the temp here was 7 degrees.  He was anticipating a two-day drive back to northern Virginia, where he planned to withdraw from college, register to audit one or two classes, and fly to Albany for a several-day business trip to get things set up to work remotely (from northern Virginia) as a programmer on a Farm Family Insurance Company software development project that Scott is overseeing.

Yes, nepotism lives, and in this case, it’s a pretty darn lucrative deal for the 20-something college drop-0ut!

So, I had asked Jo if he was planning to get a hotel that night, and he said no, that even with burning the gas to run the car and keep the heater on all night, it would be less expensive to sleep in his car than to rent a hotel room.  Well, that’s probably true.

However, being nearly out of gas in a remote section of the mountains of Pennsylvania when he grew sleepy at 3:00 a.m., he decided he couldn’t risk keeping the car running, and it was just too darn cold to sleep.  So he drove on, found a gas station, filled the tank, drove on some more, and ultimately came to a McDonald’s.  What could be nicer?!?  Food, a bathroom, a parking lot, and free wi-fi!  He slept there for a few hours and then pressed on, ultimately arriving in (I assume) Purcellville.

The next day, he made his trip to Albany (although have I heard through the grapevine that he came close to missing his flight, that there was some kind of uproariously funny event related to the wearing of minimal apparel while drying some other subset of his clothes, and that his computer could not be configured to interact with the Farm Family network), returned to Purcellville, and established himself as an off-campus student.

Well, I suspect that “off-campus” may be stretching things a bit.  And stretching a bit may not be what he does in his sleep these days.  I have now been made privvy to (via two different sources, neither of which is Josiah) the fact that the Llama is sleeping in his car.  We have been told that he does shower, which is a good thing.  We don’t know exactly where or what he’s eating, how or if he’s doing laundry (or ironing his required “business casual” clothes), or where he parks his car while sleeping in it, but we do understand that a kind friend has volunteered the use of his study cube, where we assume Jo is setting up his programming business.

The guy is nothing if not creative, resourceful, and independent!  Regardless of how long he chooses to sleep in his car, he will undoubtedly have some wild and crazy stories to tell his kids in twenty years!!!