06/01 Direct Link
This month could be the continuing diary of a boring guy who spends too much time at work, but I don't want to write that and nobody wants to read it. However, I'm too tired to make anything up. Would you like to read a story about a spreadsheet formula? Because that's all I can think about right now.

I'm going to semi-randomly grab a sentence from a semi-random book and then make something up following from that sentence. It's like a weird game. I'll probably find a way to make the sentences relate to spreadsheets, we'll see.

06/02 Direct Link
4 Xample U can calculate Ur monthly expenses with a function; it won't cause U any pain -- ooouh!


In the early 1990s, Prince feared his creativity was drying up, so he tried to cash in on the personal computing craze with a series of step-by-step instructional computer booklets. The above sentence was randomly selected from Nothing Compares 2 Spreadsheets 4 Tabulated Data (1992). The book came with a cassette of his own compositions on the frequently used functions (my favorite was "A.U.T.O.S.U.M.," unfortunately I've lost the cassette.)


Hey, spreadsheets! I have a function for you:

06/03 Direct Link

Girl get ur numbers out
And add 'em up to mine,
Slip into something more comfortable
And let me pour the wine

'Cause tonight I'm gonna give u
A lesson 'bout the cells above
(spoken) Put away ur calculator, baby,
I'll show u something u're gonna love,

AUTOSUM is gonna make your life a little bit easy
It's gonna give u so much more time to get freaky
AUTOSUM is gonna add up ur column and ur row
And you and I will be there in the afterglow
Ooooh, get crazy tonite with you new best friend

06/04 Direct Link

Have you ever had a numbeeeer?
With decimal places that went on
and on and on to the end of time?

(sung, slowly)
Let's put a number
In cell A1
Like forty one point four eight one five one six two three
Girl you know that number's no dang fun

Forget those decimal places and come back to mine
Let me be your spreadsheet hero
With that even forty-two now you're looking so fine

Sometimes you don't need so much precision
All these numbers give me double vision,
(repeat x100)

06/05 Direct Link
What-If Analysis

Now spread my sheets around you, baby,
Let's unmake the bed,
And while we do, let me CONCATENATE for you
The ways you go to my head.

But before we get there, here's a function
That will help you plot and plan,
So sit here by the screen, be my spreadsheet queen,
I'll be your spreadsheet handyman.

WHATIF we'd met much sooner?
The spreadsheet's going to show
And WHATIF I spent 20% more on roses?
Would it make your sweet love grow?
I don't want to wait, (Wouuw!)
so what's your interest rate,
in this scenario?

06/06 Direct Link
Prince's computer books failed to sell. Reviews in the popular computing magazines characterized them as unhelpful to even basic users due to the author's rambling anecdotes, gratuitous sexually explicit examples, and numerous mathematical errors (see the rounding error in one of the previous transcribed songs).

Depressed, Prince withdrew from the software instruction publishing market, and one year later changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.

Copies of Nothing Compares 2 Spreadsheets... with intact cassette now sell for upwards of $300. However, because of the missing cassette and the general poor state of the book, I value this copy at $25.

06/07 Direct Link
CHARLIE ROSE: So you sold the book immediately and put the $25 towards your legal defense fund, is that right?

STEAMED DUMPLING: Fortunately I was able to find a buyer willing to pay the suggested price right after the taping.

CR: And how much is in your legal defense fund at this time?

SD: Fifteen dollars. I had to buy an Antiques Roadshow T-shirt.

CR: We'll put an address where people can send donations up on the screen.

SD: If you want to support the right to tell damaging lies about books celebrities have not written, please give generously.

06/08 Direct Link
The judge threw out the case, saying that "parody, however bad and pointless, is protected by the First Amendment."

Then I was brought up on charges of selling a book that did not exist (paradox is a misdemeanor in the state of New York) but I pointed out they had no way of knowing about any of this since I haven't published my June 2015 batch yet. That case was also thrown out.

The real Prince might still sue me, though. I hear he'll sue anyone. I assume he stops by here every month to read our entries. Hi, Prince.

06/09 Direct Link
I know our world is round and spinning pretty fast, and going around the sun, which is also moving, and with every layer you go out everything is spinning rocks and fireballs hurtling around more or less at random.

I experience the world as a flat sheet of paper onto which someone has drawn grass and trees and flowers, and I'm walking around on it, having at the moment a reasonably good time.

The fact that it's turtles all the way down any way you look at it doesn't bother me. I'm happy to accept all the perspectives at once.

06/10 Direct Link
Do you know how much time I want to spend talking about super heroes? None. Zero time.

But I found myself having someone talk to me about his favorite hero man the other day, and I did my usual thing of politely feigning interest until I'd had enough.

"Do you think he could beat me at arm wrestling?" I asked.

Pausing only briefly and genuinely puzzled by the question, he said, "I think most people could beat you at arm wrestling."

I found the frankness with which he said this upsetting, so I arm wrestled him and he beat me.

06/11 Direct Link
I came across that nasty phrase "productive years" today. Your "productive years" are when you are between the ages of x and y (I don't want to offend people who fall outside of whatever arbitrary range I would come up with, so fill those numbers in yourself) when you are productive and valuable to society.

The phrase temporarily provokes anxiety because it makes you ask yourself, well, what am I producing, what do I have to show for myself, but then you remember drinking tea and reading and eating mangoes is enough for you, and society can fend for itself.

06/12 Direct Link
In The Grand Budapest Hotel, there's a little moment where Zero is narrating his story, and he reluctantly comes to Agatha. We watch her get onto her bicycle and start riding, and he says something like "we won't talk about her," and the camera lingers on her face for what feels like a long time before moving on to the next scene.

This is a nice moment in a film full of nice moments, and what makes it more interesting is that you could never recreate the impact it has in writing, at least not in as brief as space.

06/13 Direct Link
When I was downtown this afternoon I found myself quickly catching up to a woman on the sidewalk. When I was about five feet behind her, she turned around to look at me and I got the impression she was concerned for her safety.

Several years ago I had read an article about how to be considerate in this exact situation, and as far as I could remember it advised pretending to cough and crossing to the other side of the street, so that's what I did. While crossing, I thought I saw her keys sticking out between her knuckles.

06/14 Direct Link
Got a cool summer cut. Been meaning to do it for some time, but can only do it on weekend and often too busy. Barber was pleasant and efficient. Small talk kept to minimum; tipped accordingly. Now am looking cool, expecting compliments.

(Been noticing some people write this way all the time. Am asking self why. Am trying it out. Hate it terribly. Some may think sounds terse and cool, but does not. Perhaps misunderstood injunction against the word 'I'.)

(Note: style is efficient. Many more words than am used to can fit into 100. Will adopt this style forever.)

06/15 Direct Link
A tarot card was left in this library book, possibly as a bookmark. I love finding weird bookmarks, and I think this is my favorite.

The card is "The Moon." It depicts a very bright moon with rays coming out of it (to be honest it looks more like a sun) with a woman's face in it.

A green dog, a brown dog, and a lobster are all looking at the moon together. Both dogs are freaking out. A road leads from the lobster's pond to distant mountains. Midway between the pond and the horizon, twin towers flank the path.

06/16 Direct Link
The first thing he heard on emerging from the pond was a low rumble.

In front of him, two dogs, one green, one brown, stood crouched, tails low, snarling at something. They did not hear him approach.

"Hi there fellows," he began, "what's cooking?"

The startled dogs spun around to face him.

"Tapdancing Hierophant, a talking lobster," said the green dog. "Guy, have you seen the sky? The moon turned into the sun and a woman is inside."

The lobster strained to look up.

"Fellows, I don't pretend to know what's going on here, but it all feels very mystical."

06/17 Direct Link
Captain Renault had resented being stationed at the East Moon Tower, guarding a path that no one ever used leading to mountains that no one wanted to claim. But when the moon became bright enough to illuminate the sky and a woman's face appeared in it, she knew she was in the right place.

When she had first arrived, she asked who had built the towers. Her predecessor gave her the answer he had been given: who built the mountains?

A horn sounded from the top of the tower -- someone was coming. She pulled on her boots and ran downstairs.

06/18 Direct Link
The lobster's pace was too slow, so he had learned to ride on the green dog's back, gently grasping the dog's neck with his claw.

It had taken them three days to reach the towers. It would take another three to get to the base of the mountains, and another three to climb them.

They heard the horn from the top of the east tower as they approached. The lobster felt the hair on the back of his mount's neck bristle.

"My dear fellows," said the lobster, "follow my lead and do as I say. Whatever you do, don't panic."

06/19 Direct Link
The guards had been trained to challenge anyone who came up the path and send them away, but they were not prepared for the trio before them.

"Halt!" said Jansen, blocking the path, hand on his sword. He felt awkward doing it and his comrades were embarrassed for him.

The lobster swept his claw from left to right, as if to say, "let us pass."

That was all Captain Renault needed to see.

"Let this crab through."

"Lobster, captain," said Jansen.

"Lobster, right, let them all through."

The lobster seemed to wave goodbye. That crab's on a mission, thought Renault.

06/20 Direct Link
The brown dog had been quiet for most of the journey. The green dog was bigger and had dealt with all of the threats they'd encountered by himself. The lobster knew stories and songs to keep them entertained on the road, and he managed to get them past the guards at the tower. What was his contribution to the group?

"Why, my dear old chestnut," said the lobster, "you're the fastest of all three of us, and you have the best nose and the brownest coat. By the end of this journey we'll know what you're made of, believe me."

06/21 Direct Link
Magister Tompkins hadn't caused the moon's alteration, but he meant to profit from it. The magisters' magic consisted of sleight of hand and herbal teas, but there were always frightened people looking for comfort and answers through trinkets and blessings.

Tompkins didn't know how to return the moon to normal, but he did know someone would eventually find a way -- they would have to climb the Mountains of the Moon to do it. He left instructions to begin producing moon-shaped necklaces "to protect against the pernicious influence of The Woman in the Moon" and set out with two soldiers.

06/22 Direct Link
For the second time that week, Captain Renault was awakened by the horn. By the moon's bright light it was easy to see that three riders were coming at a gallop up the path.

When they arrived, Jansen held out his hand and called "Halt!" He felt better about this one, and later his fellow guards agreed he had cut a dashing figure. The hooded riders stopped and dismounted.

"I am Magister Tompkins and I wish to speak to whoever is in charge," said the leader.

"Magister, it's an unexpected pleasure," said Renault. "Please come inside where we can talk."

06/23 Direct Link
"Have a seat, magister," said Renault, pulling out a chair, "and have some water, you've had a long ride."

"Thank you kindly, captain," said Tompkins, pausing to enjoy the cool drink. "As you know, the Magisterium is working hard to solve the moon crisis, and we're working on several leads. In the meantime, we have reason to believe the authors of this vile sorcery will make for the Mountains of the Moon. Has anyone passed this way recently?"

Renault despised the magisters, but she thought it best to tell the truth.

"Just a crab and two dogs, sir," she said.

06/24 Direct Link
The men began to follow two sets of tracks, one large and one smaller. After a few hours of hard riding they'd caught up with the dogs.

"Here they are," said one of the soldiers. "Let's eat them and be done with it."

Tompkins dismounted to investigate. The green dog was growling, and a lobster was riding on his back, pinching hard at the dog's neck with one claw and putting the other around his throat as if to restrain him.

"No," said Tompkins. "Renault said it was definitely a crab. We need to ride on immediately and find them."

06/25 Direct Link
As they neared the summit, the grimace on The Woman in the Moon's face became more evident, and to their great alarm, she spoke.

"I've been waiting," she said. "I would speak with you, brown one."

The brown dog obeyed and climbed to the very top, while the lobster and green dog stayed behind to work out what had become a strained relationship.

Ten minutes later, darkness began to spread across the sky as the woman faded and the moon returned to normal.

"It was a warning," the brown dog said, starting down the path. "We have work to do."

06/26 Direct Link
Magister Tompkins cursed the brevity of the moon crisis, he cursed the magical crab who had escaped his clutches and apparently ended the crisis, and he cursed the poor sales of his magical moon protection necklaces.

"Find a way to sell them," he told his staff, "tell people each one was personally blessed by me. Tell people they cure lycanthropy and stop arrows, I don't care."

This experience has taught me one thing, he thought. There is more magic in this world than any of us had imagined, and I must learn more about it.

He headed for the library.

06/27 Direct Link
Eighteen days after they had begun their journey, the three stood at the pond where they'd first met.

"I wish you fellows could breathe underwater so I could invite you in," the lobster said, crawling down from the green dog's back.

"There's no time," said the brown dog. "I know what we have to do, but I don't know how to do it, and I certainly can't do it by myself. Something in our world is broken and we're meant to fix it."

"My dear friend," said the lobster, "we've always been with you. Where do we start?"


06/28 Direct Link
It seems being a successful fantasy novelist is not in my future. More's the pity, because I feel like being mildly fabulously wealthy would do me a world of good.

The main thing I struggled with while writing that was an intense feeling of embarrassment.

"Wow, this is derivative and bad," is the type of thing I would say. Despite that, it was fun to think about the next 'chapter' at work and then come home and write it.

I'm keeping this tarot card on my refrigerator, and I'm going to think of that grand adventure whenever I see it.

06/29 Direct Link
I met with a financial advisor today to talk about setting up a retirement fund. When I walked into his office, I found a sixteen-year-old kid wearing his father's suit. It's weird to take advice from someone who looks so young, but soon I was hypnotized by acronyms and numbers and he aged before my eyes. Then we talked about my retirement date and I realized that I'm just old and everyone looks young compared to me.

I hope to be a thousandaire when I retire, and my young friend hopes to help me reach that lofty goal.

06/30 Direct Link
I once had a friend who came up with sixty bad ideas and one good idea per year. He came up with more good ideas than the rest of us because he wasn't afraid to explore the bad ones.

This 'picking random sentences from books' idea that I was seriously going to do at the start of this month, for example, was a bad idea. I didn't even do it for one day. The year is now half over, and I want to come up with twenty nine (half as many as him!) more bad ideas. Let's do some brainstorming.