An Interesting Story

My friends and family often comment to me that they read my blog, but that they generally don’t understand it or find it interesting. From time-to-time I’ve thought of skewing some of the content toward the beginning to intermediate Excel user, but it’s obviously never happened. The fact is, if I don’t find it interesting it will be difficult to motivate myself to blog about it. And if my post count falls any lower, it will be negative. There’s a lot that goes into a blog post that makes even simple topics time consuming. I have to set up a scenario, test it (I know you’re watching and will call me out if I’m wrong), and upload some screen shots. And this witty prose just doesn’t flow out of me you know. But it’s a labor of love if the topic is at least a little interesting to me.

Anyway, DA asked that I post a funny photo or a joke. Pass. Instead I’ll tell a non-Excel related story.

In the early ’90s, while attending college, I found myself with a large quantity of aluminum cans. I don’t recall if I was collecting them for a purpose, like recycling, or if I was in one of my Sanford and Son stages where disposing of non-foodstuff trash wasn’t a priority. In any event, there I was with a lot of cans. I decided to do something with these cans.

Outside of my job, my primary exploits at the time were skipping school and drinking beer. I assume I was fully engaged in the latter, but I was on Christmas break from school so I couldn’t do the former. Instead, my friend Andy and I decided to build a Christmas tree out of the cans. I was working in a sheet metal shop so I had access to tools and supplies that the average college student didn’t have.

We started by cutting a three-foot diameter disc out of sheet metal, probably 24 gauge. We cut a small hole in the center and then made four cuts from the center to the edge at 90° angles to each other. They were cut at such a length that when I bent them up, it formed a 3? diameter hole in the center of the disc. I used 3? dia. steel pipe (principally used to vent bath fans before flex became more common) as the tree trunk and it extended 1 foot below the disc and four feet above. Next we strung wire from the edge of the disc to the top of the pipe. Before fastening it to the top, we punched holes in the bottom of the cans and strung them along the wire. Pre-can, it looked like this:

As pointless as that exercise was, we were pretty proud of our tree. So proud, in fact, that we decided to have a party to celebrate. We took the tree to Andy’s house and took the remaining cans to wherever you get paid to take cans. I think we made about $80 on the rest of the cans. Flush with cash, it only seemed right to go all out. So we rented tuxedos for our party. We changed into our tuxedos and awaited our guests.

I don’t remember what we served to eat at this party, but I know we had a big bowl of egg nog, my favorite holiday tradition. We also had at least one bottle of champagne, which served as our door prize. Whomever brought the best ornament for our tree would win the bottle of $4 champagne. That person was our friend Matt who glued condoms onto a standard ornament. Creativity didn’t exactly run rampant in that crowd, but a winner’s a winner.

We awarded the alcohol to Matt who immediately opened it so that he wouldn’t have to drink it himself (remember it cost $4). He unwrapped the foil, untwisted the twisty thing, pointed for the ceiling and BAM! The plastic cork flew into Andy’s living room light fixture. Tiny glass fragments rained down into, among other things, the bowl of egg nog.

We had six unopened containers of egg nog still in the refrigerator, so we were covered there. In fact, at the end of the night we still had six containers. We could have washed that bowl in scalding water, then launched it into the vacuum of space, and still nobody would have drank egg nog out of it. We could have thrown that bowl away, went to the store, bought a brand new bowl, opened the packaging, and filled it with egg nog. And still nobody would have drank. I think it’s human nature that when you see shards of glass fall into a dish, you’re not going to eat or drink out of that dish or anything similar. Well I love egg nog, so it was no skin of my shin that I had to take three containers home with me.

I went back to school that Spring and continued to live in relative squalor. In April of that year, I was on my couch when I smelled something awful. I had a subscription to the Wall Street Journal that semester, so my floor was virtually carpeted in unread newspapers. The college student rate for the WSJ was so cheap I couldn’t pass it up. I have no idea how anyone could read that much news in one day. It would take me all day to read the whole thing. But I digress. It was apparent that my policy regarding disposing of food stuffs had lapsed at some point. My solution: Move to the other side of the couch.

I lived happily on the North side of the couch until about mid-May. The snow had long melted and things were starting to heat up here in Nebraska. I could no longer avoid the odor just by changing my proximity to it, wherever it was. Fortunately it was Spring, and as I was wont to do at that time of year, I engaged in some cleaning activities. Scooping up tons of Wall Street Journal’s and filling scads of plastic trash bags.

As I lifted a stack of WSJs next to the couch, I noted a duffel bag living underneath it. I had wondered where that bag went. I opened it up and quickly learned the source of the stench. In the bag was a pair of dungarees, a shirt, socks, and, you guessed it, three unopened containers of egg nog.

I’ll spare you the details of “pouring” out those containers. The jeans and other clothes are rotting in a landfill somewhere amidst a bunch of Wall Street Journals. The smell had permeated them so thoroughly that I doubt I could have convinced a bum to wear them. I had a lot of wacky adventures in that apartment. Although if you thought that story was disgusting, you might find the other stories more on the disturbing side than the wacky side.

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9 thoughts on “An Interesting Story

  1. Getting back to the first paragraph, I guess I would class myself as an upper intermediate user. My knowledge of VB and writing macros is essentially limited to hitting record, stop and then deleting superfluous macro lines, however I do spend a lot of time creating and using relatively complicated financial models.

    The reason I like and read this blog though, is because it’s aimed at the expert level user. Yes a lot of it goes over my head or is irrelevant, but the stuff that isn’t, I find very useful. The Internet and bookshops are full of material aimed at the basic/intermediate user – however I’ve found very little like this blog that’s targeted at a higher level.

    Sure it’s a niche market but isn’t that what Internet blogs are a classic solution for?

  2. Dick, I encourage you to make more post about your wacky adventures. I think there are quite a few of us who would rather read about rotting egg nog than Multiple Parameters in External Data Queries.

    And Nick is correct, this type of post requires photos.

  3. Echo J-Walk. Besides, if you satisfy his twisted/cynical taste – credit to his own fascinating blog – that says a lot for your writing talent. It generally takes Kinison-level material to make me laugh involuntarily; your post did that. And the last sentence is your best line.

  4. This blog supplied my first impression of your site – I love it! As someone looking to make the leap from intermediate to expert Excel user, it most certainly set the right tone! Good for you!


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