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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Whew! What a day. It was sort of a relief to bury myself in a particular problem (of my own making) that forced me to ignore everything else in the world for a while. I can't tell you about the news today, but you can read that for yourself. In fact, you probably couldn't get away from it if you wanted to.

What I can tell you is that I'm not sure I was cut out to be an office manager. My management style is a little haphazard, to put it mildly. I do what needs to be done now, and hope that I'm not missing something today that I'll find out tomorrow I should have done yesterday. If you know what I mean. If not, join the club.

Since we don't have integrated accounting software, my system is a lot like keeping one of the old ledger books. The Company was still using those when I started, back in the last century, and for years after we got our first computer the Boss wouldn't give up his convoluted, hand-written accounts. He was the only one who understood them, but maybe that's why he clung to them like an old stuffed rat from his childhood (assuming he had either a childhood or a stuffed rat).

When we finally did get a computer, it couldn't do much. I certainly couldn't make it do anything for a long time. I was really good at entering data, though, so the Boss had me recreate his ridiculous ledger accounts in blank spreadsheets. As time went on and I learned more, I made the numbers do things they couldn't do in a book, without a lot of the kind of erasing that leaves holes in the pages.

Then as computer technology advanced, and as we slowly advanced with it (always a few generations behind the vanguard), I could make the spreadsheets do everything the Boss wanted them to do. Unfortunately, that's all I could do, and the work I did become more and more complex. I could never get everything fully integrated, so more often than not the same information had to be entered into different worksheets.

Ah, there's the rub, eh? If you're putting the same information in two or three different places, chances are that every so often you're going to mess up. And I have this little quirk where I get going so fast on the keyboard that I garble words and transpose numbers. It's a terrible curse to have fingers that work faster than your brain, but that's why I'm probably in the wrong profession.

Anyway, that's the reason I spent most of today chasing an eighteen hundred dollar discrepancy back and forth between two different spreadsheets. Every time I thought I had the answer, it would get worse. Before I knew it I had found a one hundred dollar mistake here, and another entirely unrelated one hundred dollar mistake over there. The trouble is, it didn't make the problem better. Now I had a two thousand dollar mistake.

After back tracking through months of receipts, copies of deposits and statements from every account in my file drawer, I solved my problem. As I said, it was as usual a problem of my own making, one of forgetting to put in one basket the same information I'd put in another. It's a relic of the old ledger days to be sure. The computer saves me a lot of time, but every so often I get a jolt from the past, a gentle reminder that I'm not so smart after all.


Low clouds in the eastern sky.

But at least it kept me from checking the news every hour. I didn't even have the television or radio on, because I needed every bit of concentration I could get. Of course, when something does happen, I'll probably be watching yesterday's episode of Ground Force on TiVo, and I won't know anything about it anyway.

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This was written early this evening, before the wall-to-wall news coverage of whatever is or isn't happening in Iraq. I watched more than I intended to, but it's hard to turn away, isn't it? Even when there's nothing substantive that they can tell us. Just because the cameras are on and they're throwing around words like "anti-aircraft" and "target of opportunity" doesn't mean there's any news you can bite into and chew on.

So far it's been a little like a stone skipping across the water, rather than the diving elephant we were expecting. Elephant's coming, though.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Tuesday Traumas
"Why, sure. I'll get to it right after I'm finished screaming curses at the walls and throwing things across the room."

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