Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yo Hablo Excel

While I can speak in English and Spanish, my husband is fluent in English and Microsoft Excel. Most of the time when I'm talking to him to try and discuss something, he sits down at the computer and starts configuring a spreadsheet. And if it can't be conveyed via spreadsheet, he quickly configures or draws a graphs or charts to represent his point of view. Almost everything we discuss usually ultimately ends up in a spreadsheet. And the more important the discussion, the sooner it ends up as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet composed and saved to our computers.

Example 1: Baby Names
This happened with Sophie and again, the same is happening with our newest expected addition regarding names. In 1 column are the list of names, the second column is Brian's rated percentage of satisfaction with the name (i.e. 60%, 15%, ...), the third column is my rated percentage of satisfaction with the name, and the last column will average our percentages. Then directly below, the names will be sorted to reveal Brian's top 5 names and Stacey's top 5 names.

Seems to me like a lot of work for naming a child. Oh... and I forgot, add an additional column next to the name to list the names meaning, and sometimes if you want you can add another column to place the name's origin.

Seriously.... this is my burden. We are going through this with Baby #2 and have yet to come up with a name we can agree on. Obviously the spreadsheet isn't exactly helping us to reach a decision quickly.

Example 2: The next 2 years
Brian is getting very close to finishing the OLDP program as well as school, and he's looking at all kinds of job options, both within and outside the company. There are so many options and he seems so conflicted, jumping from being interested to a job in Japan, to one in finance, to one in strategy, to one in consulting. And this job will impact the life of our family... not just him. So, I composed another spreadsheet. (See a trend?)

Each job was divided into the columns where he would enter the pertinent information from each. In the rows, I have listed simple information such as the company, location, salary. Then I have listed: percentage of job visibility, percentage of business travel, rate of work enjoyment and challenge, as well as should we move or keep our current lease, where should the kids go to school, do we keep our vehicles or exchange them for new or used, and how likely am I to get a job.

All good and will definitely help me to get Brian to understand all the things that will affect his family regarding job changes and experiences, BUT... I had to spend over an hour putting this thing together! And then it may take days or weeks for Brian to fill it in completely. And then... how do you rate one option over the other? Next thing you know, he'll devise a scorecard rating the importance of each of these on the outcome.... which will end up making an equation that provides us with the best possible solution. And again... he will try and explain how he came up with this equation and I'll just shake my head and tell him he's wasting his time because math and I don't get along.

My life is definitely more interesting since we've been married. As a history major I love research and analysis with the best of them, but mine is centered on written sources. And as a teacher, I feel like I'm pretty good at communication. However, with my husband, talking without a spreadsheet or a graph is like talking in broken English. If he concentrates hard enough, he gets the general idea with fuzzy details surrounding it. If I use a spreadsheet or graph it's crystal clear. And for me, when he communicates via spreadsheet or graph I get the general idea with fuzzy details surrounding it, but if he writes things down explaining it, it's crystal clear.

Oh what marriage makes you do. On the plus side, after 5 years we've generally learned how to communicate with each other (despite having several occasional hiccups). And by learning how to communicate with him (and therefore other technical minded weirdos) my knowledge of this form of communication is beneficial at my job where I work for... an engineer.

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