Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Excel Edition

I <3 spreadsheetsI like to think of myself as rather proficient in using Microsoft Excel.1. I use it for everything from keeping simple lists to advanced data analysis. I love pivot tables and conditional formatting and even have a favourite Excel function2 The other day at work I taught a bunch of colleagues, who are all very well versed in the use of Excel3 that you can copy something from one cell down a whole column by double clicking on the bottom right corner of the cell you want to copy. Most of them knew that you can grab that bottom right corner and drag it down as far as you’d like to copy, but they were all suitable stunned with the double clicking trick – which comes in especially handy if you have hundreds or thousands of rows of data – that’s a lot of scrolling if you are using the drag method instead.

Which brings me to the new thing I learned about Excel. It has a limitation that I’ve never run into before, but which is now an issue for me. Specifically, that limit is the number of rows you can have in a single worksheet. That number: 1,048,576 4,5. And I learned this as a particular set of data that I’m working with had more than a million rows of data! Our makeshift solution is to have multiple worksheets in a workbook, though now that we have almost filled our our *second* worksheet, it really slows down the old laptop!

Clearly, the next thing I have on my “things to learn this year” list is database management!

Image Credit: Posted by Crishna Simmons on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. One of the things that I do in the statistics course that I teach over at the Justice League is make sure that everyone who takes my class can use Excel properly – it’s probably one of the most useful thing they use in the course, to be honest []
  2. CONCATENATE. Mostly because the word is awesome. I probably use “Text to columns” more often, but I love to say “concatenate”! []
  3. Including one who I’d say is the best Excel user I know. []
  4. Source: []
  5. It also has a limit of 16,384 columns, but I haven’t run up against that particular limitation yet. []


Here’s one for the nerds

As you may recall, I am a huge nerd. As a huge nerd, I love spreadsheets. Tonight, as I was taking a wee snack break from marking assignments, YouTube suggested that I might like this video of standup comedy related to spreadsheets:

You know me so well, YouTube.


Um, January? Hello?

How, exactly, is it February? It seems like just yesterday I was finishing up my lovely restful Christmas holidays and *poof* it’s February! This means, of course, that we are 1 full month into the new year and it seems like an excellent time to check in on those goals that I set for 2013, doesn’t it?


First of all, since I actually set measurable physical activity goals, I’ve been using a spreadsheet to track my progress on those goals1. For my pushup and biking goals (1,300 pushups and 500 km of biking, respectively), I have divided by 12 to set my monthly goals, but for running, I set individual month goals based on how much running I need to do in each month to train for the 2 half marathons I’m planning to do this year. I didn’t actually set goals for yoga or hockey2, but I’m tracking those too. Turning to the spreadsheet, I can see that for January I completed:

  • 212% of my monthly goal for pushups (230 pushups)
  • 111% of my monthly goal for running (11 km)3
  • 59% of my monthly goal for biking (24.6 km)4
  • 370 minutes of hockey
  • 460 minutes of yoga

I’m also happy to report that I’ve kept up with my goal of doing some kind of physical activity every day for a year, which I started on Dec 30! Some days it’s just been a little bit – like 10 pushups – but the point is to not break the chain and sometimes that’s all I can fit in on a given day5. So far, I’ve been able to keep the chain intact!

I have not, however, knocked anything off the 101 list, including the item that I chose to focus on for January, which was “78. Clean up my boxes of papers!” However, I have friends who will be visiting later in the month who will be staying in the spare room, which will be just the impetus I need to actually clean up those boxes, as they currently reside in the spare room! In addition, it’s almost tax season, so I’ll have to go through all my papers anyway to find the stuff I need to take to my accountant.

Also, in order to keep up with the goal of knocking 13 items off my list, I need to pick an item to focus on for February6, so I’ve decided to pick item #52 – “cook a decent tasting eggplant parmesan.” Mmmm, eggplant parmesan!

Of course, all of this is well and good in a month where I don’t have my usual classes7, so we’ll have to see if I can keep it up throughout February!

  1. Thanks to Dr. Dan, who shared his physical activity tracking spreadsheet with me! (He actually shared it last year, but this year I’m actually using it to it’s fullest potential!) []
  2. My implicit goals for those are “go as often as I can given the yoga class schedule of whatever studio I currently have a Groupon for” and “go to every scheduled game that my school schedule allows me to go to,” respectively. []
  3. This is all thanks to Alicia, who invited me to go running with her on weekends when my schedule allows. She’s training for different races than I am, but we really like running together – it really helps motiviate me to get out there – so we are doing that when we can. []
  4. I’m not too worried about this being below my goal for the month. I usually ride the stationary bike in my building’s exercise room while reading for homework and since I’m not taking the modules from my program this month, I’ve not done as much reading as I normally would. I’m confident I’ll catch up once I get back to my regular school schedule in the middle of this month. []
  5. For this goal, I have to be realistic – I’m just too busy to do a big workout every day, but I can do a reasonable workout most days and make sure I do something else – like a few pushups – on the other days []
  6. Meaning I’ll have to do 2 items this month – my punishment for not getting an item done in January! []
  7. I have another class, but it’s stretched over 3 months instead of 2 weekends, so the intensity of the workload is much less! []


Grind It!

In keeping with my new habit of booking physical activity in my calendar, today I did, in fact, do the Grouse Grind with Lianna1, just like it says on my calendar. Amazing how that works, eh?

We originally planned this hike with the idea that we’d push for a 1 hr 15 min finish, but my IT band has been acting up and Lianna & Tiffany “accidentally” went out last night, so they weren’t feeling up to pushing ourselves! In the end, we finished in 1 hr 25 mins, which, while nothing to write home about, is respectable enough.

While we were hiking, I mentioned that this was my first time doing the Grind this year and that I like to do it at least once a year, and Lianna said, “Oh, you did it last year?” and I was all “Oh yeah, I totally did.” But searching through my blog, I can’t find *any* mention of it and now that I think about it, I don’t specifically remember doing it last year. I know I did the Scotiabank half marathon, boot camp, and played hockey for 10 days straight, so it’s not like I was slacking, but I could have sworn I did the Grind too2!

Anyway, I have now made this page, which is actually just an embedded version of the Google docs spreadsheet I’m using to track all my Grouse Grind hikes, so that I can keep better records!!

  1. And her friend Tiffany, actually. []
  2. If you did the Grind with me any time in 2011, can you let me know so that I’ll know I’m not totally crazy? []