Who am I and how did I get here?

On January 20, 2002 I was working on my first paid Excel consulting project and needed some help. I’d heard about something called newsgroups, so installed Free Agent, figured out how to point it at microsoft.public.excel.programming and asked my first question. In no time at all I got an answer back from a fellow named John Walkenbach.

This was a revelation. I hadn’t written code since earning a Computer Programming certificate 15 years earlier. At that time I could stay up halfway ‘til dawn tracking down a missing semicolon in my C homework. There was no online help, much less from the world’s most published author on the topic.

I soon discovered I rarely needed to ask questions, that the answers to anything I was clever enough to come up with were already archived. I did, however, start answering them, sometimes even correctly. I answered questions from a desire to pass on the favor and because it’s a great way to learn. I still answer questions, more often correctly, and I’m still learning from people who are way better at this than me.

I started this blog because I like to write and I love Excel. Even though the world doesn’t need another Excel site, and I have no illusions about matching the output and quality of the best ones, I am eager to add some, hopefully, original material and perspectives.

After finishing that C class (along with COBOL, Basic and assembly) I changed course. I’d been told that the market for programmers would soon dry up, that something called 4th generation languages would eliminate the need for coders. Instead I opted for the always-lucrative field of geography, followed by a Masters in Urban Planning. I had no desire to be a planner, but it was an interesting education that led to a 12-year stint as an affordable-housing developer. Switching gears again, I morphed into the IT guy at the same nonprofit. After getting laid off, I decided to be a data analyst. It worked out, and after three fun years counting students at Portland Public Schools, I’ve started writing reports for Kaiser Permanente. Then I come home and try to answer questions on Stack Overflow.

I also have a lovely family, a productive veggie garden and a wonderful 2009 Trek Valencia that carries me along Portland’s bike-friendly streets to its many fine coffee-serving establishments and brew-theaters. Life is good.