Just start

“You just have to be starting out, which is, anything you do can be fixed. What you cannot fix is the perfection of a blank page. What you cannot fix is that pristine, unsullied whiteness of a screen or a page with nothing on it, because there’s nothing there to fix.” — Neil Gaiman We…More

Baby it’s cold outside!

Winter is here (at least in the Northern hemisphere!) and with it comes days of howling winds and frigid temperatures that turn an unassuming backyard into a Hoth-esque landscape. For more than a century, researchers have tried to quantify the extra misery that the cold, moving air inflicts on exposed skin, a.k.a. the Wind Chill…More

Monopoly is Rigged

You’re not paranoid. Monopoly is out to get you. Even with a data-driven, YouTuber certified, “can’t lose” strategy, you can still go bankrupt. Improbably, a hotel-enhanced Connecticut Avenue led to my recent downfall . “Six hundred bucks, dad,” my son called out. THREE. FREAKING. TIMES. Penniless, I cursed the dice and mumbled about my rotten…More

Daylight Savings Time: A brief history with a touch of astronomy

Another year of Daylight Savings Time (DST) is coming to an end and with it, the joy of an extra hour to sleep or celebrate. It used to give me nightmares. For a time, I managed an Excel file that tracked a production schedule.  Operators entered in start times and the spreadsheet calculated when the…More

Painless Chart Title Updates

I originally called this post “Dynamic Chart Titles in Excel”. SEO-friendly, perhaps.  But it could have been catastrophic. In weaponized form, that five-word combination could unleash a wave of drowsiness not seen in modern times.  Even in an 11-point font, it will cause you to blink for a second or two longer than normal. Use…More

Enrico Fermi and the Oreo

How many piano tuners are there in Chicago? How many quarters would you need to stack to be as tall as the Empire State Building? If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be? These questions are nearly impossible to answer accurately without extensive research.  Enrico Fermi, 1938…More

A bit of ingenuity

A bit of fruitful construction last year led to the replacement of old deck railing and addition of a line of 2×6 along the base to make the framework of the deck less visible. Not much has happened since then as I waited for the boards to weather before adding paint.  In the meantime, the…More

Happy pi day!

Just wishing you all a happy pi day.  3/14/16 turned into decimal form (3.1416) rounds pi nicely to the nearest ten-thousandth. This is much catchier than wishing everyone a happy “Ides of March eve”, which just sounds dreadful. http://www.pidaychallenge.com/ makes for some entertaining mathematical puzzling. http://www.expii.com is worth a look too with various problem solving…More

The leap day

I couldn’t resist posting on February 29th a little piece I wrote, well, about four years ago…   February 29th has come and gone with its usual fanfare being celebrated quadrennially.  That is, except every century when we skip the leap day, except every four centuries when we keep it. Huh?  Perhaps I should back up…More