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Sunday, January 20, 2013


I love spreadsheets. I was introduced to them by ... as so often happens ... another user. I still remember her saying "Once you use spreadsheets, you're hooked."

"Maybe you," I naively thought, "but not ME. I have tremendous self control. I'll only use them at work."

But, the simplicity of lining up items in a column and the ease with which I could add numbers lured me in. And like so many innocents before me, I found I couldn't quit. I stop short of saying I'm addicted, but that's probably just denial on my part.

I have spreadsheets for everything. For many years I have kept my monthly bills on a spreadsheet, making a veritable plethora of information available to me with only a few simple clicks of the mouse! For instance, I can tell you what I paid for water in October of 1999 ($33.08). And I can tell you when I paid off my daughters flute (February 6, 2003).

I keep all my lists on spreadsheets ... grocery lists, packing lists for vacations and business trips, wish lists, to-do lists, etc. It's a sickness, I suppose, bordering on obsession ... and I'm helpless to stop. I've tried using other programs and systems, but they left me feeling incomplete ... empty ... unsatisfied. To my shame, I no longer even attempt to write out lists by hand or add numbers in my head.

When the kids were little, I used to spend different amounts on them at Christmas. They didn't know, of course, as I made sure it looked like I spent the same amount. At that time, they were more interested in quantity than quality. As they got older, and as the monetary value of their gifts grew, I made sure to spend the exact same amount on each one. And how better to do that?

Yes! You see my point!! A spreadsheet!!!

My children, to their horror, are now aware of my spreadsheet disease.

A few days ago, Tara walked into my office at home and I quickly shooed her out. "You can't come in here," I pronounced, holding up my hand to halt her advance. "I have the Christmas spreadsheet open."

"Well," she said, rolling her eyes as she retreated. "That's not geeky."

Their suspicions now confirmed, I have found the kids in a conspiratorial huddle, wringing their hands, and speaking in muffled whispers. When I walk into the room, they slowly turn to me ... and they know I know they know. Their big brown eyes open wide and they freeze like deer caught in headlights. They exchange guilty looks, and then scatter like roaches exposed to the light.

I'm afraid they might be planning an intervention.

My idiosyncrasies drive my kids nuts at times. But I think what scares them most of all ... and what robs their sleep at night ... is the fact that they know they've inherited many of them. 

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