Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Excel hell”

Poor Biff’s Almanac — Stimulating Simulations … or Simulating Stimulation

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It was a quiet day if Biffville.  I spent most of the day with my head buried in a spreadsheet that was so complicated that I began to doubt my sanity.  After all, no sane person would attempt to simulate real life within the pivoting matrices of a recalcitrant spreadsheet.  That’s what Visio is for.  With Excel you can, at best, create some crude 2-D simulations of rudimentary real-world processes.

Later in the day, I began to question my own existence.  I have read that the universe as we know it is just some grand simulation that a race of super beings is running for purposes we cannot fathom (my guess is a government grant).  If that is true, then why am I creating simulations within an Excel spreadsheet that approximate portions of real life … or what we think of as life?  Are there little people running around in my spreadsheets who believe they are thinking, living beings, but who are, in reality, merely references to other tabs and other cells (and probably the wrong ones, at that)?

It was too much for my feeble brain to churn on so I was glad when 5:00 rolled around and I was able to flee the scene of so much simulation.

Or did I flee the scene?  Perhaps I’m still there and the grander simulation is able to have me in both places at once: at my desk at work and also at my desk here at home.  Is the code of my life re-entrant?  Or is my stack about to overflow?

Perhaps my employer misunderstood me at my job interview many, many years ago when I mentioned that I wanted a job where I was constantly stimulated.  Perhaps they heard “simulated”, for I am pretty sure the past several years have just been a poorly constructed simulation.

 

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How Not to Excel at Your Job

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You may remember from my last exciting post that our intrepid protagonist was waxing philosophic (i.e. babbling) about it being Wednesday.  Well, that was then; this is now.  Wednesday is so yesterday.  Thursday is trending.  Thursday is the new Wednesday.  And, using the tortured metaphor from yesterday’s post, we are now past the Continental Divide and we are trudging through Oregon (i.e. Thursday), even though we haven’t quite reached the Willamette Valley (i.e. Friday) yet.  But you can see it from here if you squint really hard and make binoculars of your fists.

But not to worry.  I am not going to continue to torture yesterday’s poor Oregon Trail metaphor.  It has suffered enough.  As have you, Dear Reader.  So, let’s move on, shall we?  The less said about it the better.

It occurred to me today as I sat in my taupe colored box at work struggling with uncooperative PowerPoint bullets … (“If I wanted pips, I would have chosen pips!  I would like a simple round bullet, please!”) … it occurred to me that there is nothing worse than inheriting someone else’s work.  I mean, we are all guilty of creating things we are less than proud of,  such as incomprehensibly complex spreadsheets that only we can understand (and that even we struggle with sometimes).  We create these Frankenspreadsheets ostensibly to make some part of our job easier, but in the end they end up taking on a life of their own and creating more work for us, because, in addition to our regular jobs, we now have to maintain and update this mind boggling Rube Goldberg contraption of a spreadsheet.  We get to the point where we are afraid to touch anything inside it because the cells and formulas are so complexly interwoven and interlinked that the slightest change will result in  an eye full of cells displaying the dreaded #VALUE! admonishment.

But there is something worse.  Much worse.

And that is …… inheriting someone else’s monstrosity of a spreadsheet because they did something selfish and inconsiderate like retiring or taking a better job. Worse still is having everyone in the company begin to refer to it as “your” spreadsheet.  No matter how many times I declare loudly and definitively that this is NOT my spreadsheet, that I would never create such a convoluted labyrinthine piece of garbage (not that I’m not capable of it), people still keep referring to it is Biff’s spreadsheet.  And, eventually, just like the tar baby in Southern folklore, you find yourself helplessly attached to this torturous piece of inscrutable codswallop.

So every time the Boss sticks his head into my taupe colored sensory deprivation chamber and says, “Hey, how soon can you have this month’s numbers cranked into your spreadsheet?” I am tempted to rear up on my hind legs defiantly and shout, “I am not an animal!”  But what comes out of my mouth instead is something more along the lines of, “As soon as I figure out this circular reference.”

 

That is the kind of biting retort that people say when they have mortgages and dependents and a looming retirement.   The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that someday this monstrosity of a spreadsheet will get passed on to its next victim.  I think that makes me merely a carrier for this virus-like spreadsheet.

And that’s not nothing.

 

 

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