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The Steps to Building an Excel App Project

  1. Realize that the tedious, labor-intensive job you've been doing every day for the last seven years can be done more easily, more quickly, and with fewer errors using a macro;
  2. Begin by starting a new Spreadsheet;
  3. Create a macro, which will take up about 3-4 hrs of your day;
  4. Run Macro;
  5. The macro gives you totally unexpected results, so de-bug by stepping through it;
  6. Realize that you've made a logical error about halfway through the macro;
  7. End the macro;
  8. Fix the error;
  9. Reset the spreadsheet by removing everything the macro added to it;
  10. Re-run the macro;
  11. The fix you made in the macro in step 8 has now caused the macro to go in an eternal loop due to a cascading logical error (correcting the original logical error has revealed one or more logical errors elsewhere in the macro that the original logical error was concealing);
  12. Excel begins to crash and becomes unresponsive;
  13. Realize that at no point during the process did you save the macro, print it out, nor any other method of recording the macro you created, wasting about 3 to 4 hours of work;
  14. In between sobs of futility and brief moments of panic, remember that Office has an application called "Microsoft Office Application Recovery"--hope shines;
  15. Start it up, crossing your fingers that it starts up without a hitch (which isn't guaranteed);
  16. If MOAR is successful in recovering your macro and spreadsheet, you open the auto-recovery version of your sheet, only to discover that Autorecovery has not saved your document since you typed in "Public Sub MyMacro.... End Sub";
  17. Stab yourself through the right eyeball with a leather awl;
  18. When the boss asks you why you have some kind of tool hanging out of your eye socket, you explain;
  19. Boss says, "You're still doing that? We stopped using that report five years ago!";
  20. Jump out the nearest window.

My watch

I've had many watches in my day, some of which were pretty elaborate.  I had this one watch I got from my father for Christmas (it was how I knew that finally, my father got me 1) that had a barometer, an altimeter, and a thermometer.  I cherish it to this day.

Keeping accurate time is a big deal with me.  If a watch, which I bought to conveniently tell time, can't do that job correctly, then its worth to me is seriously reduced.

Just this past Christmas, a friend (whom we'll call "BC") bought me a watch for Christmas.  It was a cheap-o, no name watch that I think cost her somewhere around $10 US--not much by my watch buying standards.  It doesn't have the phases of the moon, or even the date, for Heaven's sake.  But let me tell you something, the son-of-a-bitch has not lost a second in about three months.  I calibrate the thing regularly and have not had to adjust the time at all.

Am I rambling?

Note 1: Well, I don't know if it was that he actually finally "got" me as much as it was that I finally got the message that he got me.

"Cheerful?" Really?

An article in the company newsletter described an associate as having a "cheerful disposition." Thought #1: I don't remember him as "cheerful." Thought #2: I didn't know that the writer of the newsletter was capable of irony. Thought #3: This is why I don't give eulogies.

What Would You Do?

Someone asked me recently what I would do if money was no object.  Say I hit the lottery, or something like that; how would I live?

I know the following things would change:

  1. First of all, my sister and her family would never have to work a day in their lives should they choose;
  2. I would move; I would buy a modest home down south somewhere (North Carolina where my sister lives would be perfect);
  3. I would "retire" and go to school and get a degree in Computer Science and/or Game Design;
  4. I would go to every major (and some minor) game convention: Origins, GenCon, Pax East, DunDraCon, Dragon*Con, the list goes on and on, as well as the two major comic cons: New York ComicCon and San Diego ComicCon, not to mention South-by-Southwest and CES.

Well, that's my dream, anyway.  It'd be fun.


"So, what are you doing today?"

"We're going to see Unknown."

"You don't know the name of the movie?"

"Yes, it's 'Unknown.'"

"So, how are you going to buy tickets if you don't know the name of the movie?"

"Wait... Why do I get this sudden feeling that we've fallen into an Abbott and Costello routine?"

My Mustache

After 22 years, I'm considering shaving off my mustache.  The reasons are varied, but what it really boils down to is this: Do I really want to look like a cheap 70s porn star (after he had gained 140 lbs and aged about 30 years from cheap whiskey and cigarettes)? 

Well... yes, I do. 

Okay, bad example.  

But do I want to look like I could be cruising around suburbs in a nondescript white Econoline van and a bag of M&Ms?

Well... no... No, I don't.

Replacing Hal Jordan

Tom succeeds Hal Jordan as Green Lantern of sector 2814 and prepares to recite the oath:

"In brightest day, in blackest night... something, something, something... I wish I may, I wish I might... Ah, fuck it.  Judging by my predecessor, this job sucks."

You know, it has always struck me how Hal has put up with being a GL for so many years.  Y'know: Possessed by an alien manifestation of pure fear (Parallax); going insane; destroying the universe in a misguided attempt to "fix" it; dying; becoming an alien manifestation of vengeance (Spectre); being resurrected and his entire universe oddly returned to its pre-Parallax state (the existence of Coast City and all its residents, despite it not being mentioned except as being "destroyed" in fifteen years of any other comics set in the DCU, etc).

Facebook and Twitter

Lately, I've been getting a lot of Facebook "friend" requests from people I don't know. When I look into these people to find out who the hell they are, I find that the only thing we have in common is that we both happen to like guitars. I find this bothersome, and I really don't want to offend anyone, but I'm a lot more careful about whom I allow to friend me on Facebook than I am who follows me on Twitter.

Why? It's the differences in philosophy (to my mind) between the two sites. Facebook is much more personal to me. These are people that I know in one capacity or another--family, friends, acquaintances. There are real people behind those accounts (to my mind).

Twitter on the other hand, is a lot less personal: I don't really care who is following me on Twitter; in fact, the more the merrier. To me, that's the whole point of Twitter. Heck, among the 13 (which, by the way, I've gained three followers in the last 24 hours. At this rate, I'll reach my 25 followers goal by 2111! Go, me!) people I have following me on Twitter is President Barack Obama. It doesn't mean very much in the grand scheme of things (since he's following 705,784 people as I write this), and I simply don't Tweet enough to make the POTUS notice me.

The problem is that Facebook makes a lot more information available to its users than Twitter does, including email addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, etc. This means that if I "friend" someone on FB that I don't know (at the minimum, I should at least know of you from another forum, particularly the Hero Games forums), I'm exposing myself to that person, who could be anyone. Are they culling my personal information to sell to some less than scrupulous corporation? Are they someone less than scrupulous looking for personal information? I just don't know, and that's the problem.

Facebook "pages" are different: it allows no personal information about the person himself available to anyone. For example, all that's on Veronica Belmont's Facebook page is a short blurb about who she is at the top of the page:

Veronica is a technology and gaming-centric video host based out of San Francisco. Currently her projects include Qore (a monthly interactive magazine about the PS3 for Sony) and Tekzilla (a weekly tech help and how-to show on Revision3.com).

And so on. She posts periodically to her Facebook page what she's working on or topics she's interested in under the assumption that if you're interested in her, then you're interested in the same things she is. Miss Belmont really doesn't care that you're following her Facebook page. In fact, she wants you to, and you do, too, you know you do! Don't deny it! She's cute. Yet, if what I know about Veronica is accurate, she certainly has a more personal Facebook where she can interact with people she actually knows in real life with a little more privacy.

If I don't at the very least know you from some other forum (I'm on nearly every RPG forum out there, particularly the Hero Games forums, but also the Steve Jackson Games forums, the Atomic Think Tank, and the RPGnet forums as well as my LiveJournal account) then don't even bother trying to friend me on Facebook but please feel free to follow me on Twitter (@tomd1969).

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


So, for the last week or so, I have had a little visitor in my apartment: a member of the Mus genus.  In short, a mouse.

He was small, perhaps no longer than my thumb (not including tail).  He had dark, brown fur, and tiny, tiny feet.  At first, I knew I was hearing noises from the darkest recesses of my apartment: under the base board heating, behind some unpacked boxes, behind and underneath furniture.  My first concern was that it was a rat.  (It's interesting that the worst-case scenario is what leapt to my mind).

One day last week, as I was sitting on my couch, I caught movement on the floor out of the corner of my eye, and I looked down at it.  The creature wasn't really moving that fast, and seemed to stop and contemplate me.  We both sat there staring at each other for the briefest of eternities, sizing each other up.  Finally deciding that I was a threat, he ran underneath my couch. 

The next day, again sitting on my couch, I saw him head for the kitchen.  I got up and ran towards the kitchen.  I didn't want to hurt him, but I wanted to see him, first of all (mostly to see if it was the same mouse), and secondly to scare him away.  Yeah, that didn't work out so well.

I started working out in my mind plans to get rid of this mouse. Some were mighty plans that would make Wile E. Coyote proud.  And some were stupid plans that would make Tom the Cat cringe.  One of the stupidest involved chasing the mouse around the apartment with a skillet in the hopes of squashing him.  Had I learned nothing from watching cartoons?  It never worked out well for the cat, and it won't end well for me, either.

I even, at a certain point, began thinking about him as a roommate in a strange way.  I could come up with no way to catch or kill him, so I figured I might as well get used to him.

Then came the event that broke the camel's back, as it were.  I was again sitting on my couch (the couch is so comfy) and I was working on my computer doing I forget what.  Suddenly, I felt something on my foot.  I looked down, and the mouse was sitting on my foot.  I screamed like a little girl... Err, I mean "vocalized my displeasure like a manly man"... and shook him off my foot.  The mouse went flying about two feet, landed on the floor and scurried under the couch.

That was it.  I'd had enough.  I'm bigger than this mouse, I'm smarter than this mouse, and if he was going to continue living with me, he'd better start ponying up his share of the fucking rent, not to mention the food budget.

I got serious about formulating a plan.  I decided that I didn't really want to harm the mouse, and that if I could do it humanely, I would be all for it. This just about killed the frying pan idea (the part of my brain that thought it would be funny sighed sadly at that), but the traditional mouse trap was out as well.  I mean, it wasn't really the mouse's fault that he was in my apartment.  I'm not even really sure he had put that much thought into it.  My apartment is warm, it has food (all right, I suck at house cleaning), and it had a guy living in it that most of the time is rather oblivious to what's going on in his own home.

Money was another consideration. I didn't have the money for the more humane traps (capture and release).  That means that I had to come up with another solution.

Well, an opportunity presented itself.  I was hankering for a crunchy, salty snack over the weekend, and decided that of my choices, Chex Mix was probably the healthiest (choosing a "healthy" snack food is like trying to choose whether to commit seppuku with a silver dirk or a brazen broadsword, especially if your only choices are what's available at your local convenience store).  I brought the bag back and inspiration hit.  I emptied the bag of the whole Chex (no, I didn't eat them... OK, maybe I did), leaving some crumbs in the bottom of the bag.  I left the mouth of the bag wide open and placed it on the floor.  This was this past Sunday night. 

By Tuesday, I had forgotten about my little "trap." I was sitting on my couch--my comfy couch--watching SportsCenter.  I heard rustling from somewhere, but had a hard time tracking it down.  Sometimes, it seemed to be coming from under the couch, sometimes from under the coffee table, sometimes from in front of the coffee table.  Then, as I was trying to track it down, I saw the mylar Chex Mix bag move at the same time as I heard the rustling noise.  I realized that the mouse had somehow managed to flip the bag over and had gotten trapped in a small pocket in the bottom of the bag.  Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed the opened end of the of the bag, and rolled the end of it closed, making sure to leave him a nice pocket of air.

Note that I hadn't seen the mouse actually in the bag.  I had to check to make sure that the mouse was in there.  Holding the bag aloft in my left hand, I gingerly felt the inside with my right to see if he was actually in there.  My fingers landed on something warm and a little squishy.  I "vocalized my manly displeasure" (I definitely did not scream like a girl).  While I jerked my right hand away, my left hand was apparently much cooler ("Dude... what's your problem?") and luckily maintained a death grip on the open end of the bag.  Oh, yeah, I definitely had a mouse in my Chex Mix bag.

Okay, now what do I do with it?  Dammit, I hadn't thought that far ahead.  I hadn't planned on being successful.  Now that I was, I wasn't prepared for it.  I put a binder clip on the open end and laid it on the coffee table as I considered the mouse's fate.  I actually still briefly considered beating it to death in the bag and throwing it away; it just seemed too much like punishment to something for following its nature.  He chewed a little hole in the mylar bag, and poked his nose and one eye through the hole, looking at me as if to say, "Please, Mr. Man, don't kill me.  Let me go."

I didn't have the heart to kill him.  That meant that I had to release him.  But where?  I should mention that this whole thing was complicated by two factors: one, that I had an attack of gout on Monday that nearly incapacitated me; two, it had begun to snow.  If I released him, would I have been only trading death by violence with death by exposure?  And if I released him, it would have to be somewhere that I could easily get to and nearby, but far enough away that he couldn't simply scurry back into my apartment the instant I turned around.  And I had to do it quickly, because the hole he was chewing was getting larger; he would get away and I wasn't sure I would get another chance.

This whole period of contemplation took nearly two hours.  I threw on my coat, hat, gloves, and cane (remember: the gout) and grabbed the bag, carefully folding it in half to cover up the hole.  As I walked out into the night, it was very quiet.  Not even the neighbor's dog barked at me.  I shuffled as best I could up the parking lot and across the street to where the dumpster was.  While I had brought my hat, I had forgotten to put it on, so the icy cold snowflakes landed softly on my head of hair.  I could feel the mouse shuffling around in his little mylar bag.  Did he sense what was coming?  I tried to make sure that our relationship was clear to him.  "There's only room in this apartment for one of us.  This is my apartment, you Rodentia.  Finally, I'll be rid of you, once and for all, you stupid mouse.  Oh, and you still owe me money for the food you ate... where do you want me to send the bill?"  I'm sure my neighbors loved seeing the crazy man talking to a Chex Mix bag.

My original plan was to dump him out into the dumpster, but as I neared it, I realized that it was a delayed death sentence.  Dumpsters are made to eventually be dumped, and worse, he would have no way to escape it once it was happening.  I could imagine his panic, not fully understanding what was happening, as the garbage lifted the dumpster up and began pouring it into its container where it would surely be crushed and would surely die.

I just couldn't do that, either.  Living out in the cold would be no picnic, but his chances of survival were much better than they would be in the dumpster.  Unfortunately, the day after Christmas was one of the biggest snowstorms in the area in many years, and there were still snowbanks everywhere.  I can't get away from them.  Some of them were still around five feet tall. 

I found a relatively small snow bank near the dumpster, and dumped my little friend out onto it.  He hit the snowbank, and paused for a second.  He glanced up at me, as if he was shocked that he had survived the experience.  He also seemed to be saying "thank you" for letting him live.  After a few seconds, he scurried off behind the dumpster.

Suddenly, I felt a great sadness come over me.  Had I saved him from one death, only to condemn him with another?  It was fucking cold out, and the snow was coming down more heavily every minute, or so it seemed.  I had considered him a pet, almost, though an ill-behaved one (I'm afraid to look at some of my boxes to see if he chewed through them and their contents), and he probably saw me as "That Big, Scary Man Who Chases Me Around."

Two days later, and I'm still punishing myself over it.  But, really, what choice did I have?  I can't have a rodent (no matter how cute and relatively harmless) running around loose in my apartment.  I'm pretty sure that my security deposit doesn't cover "Rodentia Infestations."


The Latest Facebook Chain Letter Meme

Recently, two friends posted this to their Facebook status updates:

I was just told and I'm not superstitious, but this year July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, copy this to your status and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese Feng Shui. The one who does not copy will be without money. I cannot let that person be.............. ME! Good Luck
This is incorrect.  I'm going to ignore the superstitious aspects (and the Feng Shui, which is used here in a way I'm unfamiliar with) for a moment, and focus on what I can prove.

Whoever originally wrote this apparently has no idea how the Gregorian calendar works: The calendars recycle every 400 years.  That means that the calendar for 2000 would have been the same as the calendar for the year 1600 (Although the RC Church adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the British Empire, and thus the American colonies, did not adopt it until 1752).  In turn, this means that the calendar for 2011 is exactly the same as the calendar for 1611 and will be the same for the calendar for 2411.  Therefore, at the very minimum, 823 years is wrong and should be 400 years.

But even that would have been wrong.

A July that has 5 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays must have started on a Friday (that would make the 29th a Friday, the 30th a Saturday, and the 31st a Sunday, which would be the 5th Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of that month).  Since 1900, this has happened 15 times: 1904, 1910, 1921, 1927, 1932, 1938, 1949, 1955, 1960, 1966, 1977, 1983, 1988, 1994, and 2005.  This means that *on average* in the last 111 years, it has happened every 7.133 years.