Daylight Savings Time: A brief history with a touch of astronomy

Another year of Daylight Savings Time (DST) is coming to an end and with it, the joy of an extra hour to sleep or celebrate. It used to give me nightmares. For a time, I managed an Excel file that tracked a production schedule.  Operators entered in start times and the spreadsheet calculated when the…More

Painless Chart Title Updates

I originally called this post “Dynamic Chart Titles in Excel”. SEO-friendly, perhaps.  But it could have been catastrophic. In weaponized form, that five-word combination could unleash a wave of drowsiness not seen in modern times.  Even in an 11-point font, it will cause you to blink for a second or two longer than normal. Use…More

Enrico Fermi and the Oreo

How many piano tuners are there in Chicago? How many quarters would you need to stack to be as tall as the Empire State Building? If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be? These questions are nearly impossible to answer accurately without extensive research.  Enrico Fermi, 1938…More

A bit of ingenuity

A bit of fruitful construction last year led to the replacement of old deck railing and addition of a line of 2×6 along the base to make the framework of the deck less visible. Not much has happened since then as I waited for the boards to weather before adding paint.  In the meantime, the…More

Happy pi day!

Just wishing you all a happy pi day.  3/14/16 turned into decimal form (3.1416) rounds pi nicely to the nearest ten-thousandth. This is much catchier than wishing everyone a happy “Ides of March eve”, which just sounds dreadful. makes for some entertaining mathematical puzzling. is worth a look too with various problem solving…More

The leap day

I couldn’t resist posting on February 29th a little piece I wrote, well, about four years ago…   February 29th has come and gone with its usual fanfare being celebrated quadrennially.  That is, except every century when we skip the leap day, except every four centuries when we keep it. Huh?  Perhaps I should back up…More

What are the odds?

$1.3 billion!  That’s quite a hefty jackpot for the next Powerball drawing, even if the number is deliberately inflated to raise the hype.  Still, the lump sum payout is estimated to be $806 million; not a bad day at the office. The odds are posted around the web, but how are they determined? The updated version of…More

Similes and Alt+Esc

Occasionally, from the mind fog of an early morning, a jumble of words makes its way out of my subconscious.  Observe: He has the charisma of a bowl of shredded wheat. Sadly, Ron Weiskind of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette can lay claim to an earlier rendition of the phrase.  Curse you Google…  As useful as a simile, as…More

12/27/2015 = 42365?

Happy third day of Christmas!  ‘Tis the season for celebrating with friends and family, a bit of introspection, and a good a cup of coffee.  Best wishes to you and yours! And now, for something completely different. What is 12/27/2015?  My calculator tells me 0.000220567962503446.  My calendar tells me there are four days left in the year.  Half…More

Control + Arrow

An easy way to appear to have ninja skills in Excel is to skip around a spreadsheet without a mouse.  With this easy trick, you can channel your inner Kal-El and leap 16,833 columns or 1,048,575 rows in a single bound. Open a new spreadsheet Hold down the “Ctrl” button (and don’t let go!) Hit the right arrow key “→”…More