Spreadsheets

Fri. 08/27/21 – Many people probably have no idea what a spreadsheet is or how useful it could be. What I’m going to discuss is a computer program, currently referred to as an application. The program enables one to create tables of information which can easily sorted and manipulated in a wide variety of ways.

Spreadsheet programs have been around since the very early days of personal computers, a prime example was Lotus 1-2-3. Today the most widely used is undoubtedly Microsoft Excel. I use Open Office Calc on my PC, and Apple Numbers on my iPhone and iPad. They are all very similar.

As an engineer I quickly discovered how useful spreadsheets were and have been using them both professionally and personally for about 40 years. I have a dozen or more that I use almost every day. There’s one for my checking account, one for my investments, two for COVID statistics, one for automobile fuel and maintenance, one for my car club membership list, one for the car club’s bank account (I’m the treasurer), several for the car show, lots of others for my other interests, and a bunch related to covered bridges. (CBs)

Almost four years ago I developed an interest in covered bridges, those incredible wooden structures that date back to the early nineteenth century that used to number about 12,000. Since then I have been making trips to visit, study, and photograph them. I have visited 826 of the 848 bridges which are on my list. My spreadsheets play a very important part in trip planning and record keeping.

A few days ago I decided to sort my CB list in chronological order of when I first visited each bridge. Then I added a column for the mileage driven to visit the bridge, which a obtained from the Google Maps app. I worked at this off an on for three or four days, and then examined the results, which surprised me.

Since 11/22/17, the day I visited the Jediah Hill CB, not far from my home in Cincinnati, I have made 42 trips to make a first visit to one or more covered bridges. The shortest trip was the first, 14.8 mi. round trip. The longest was 8,396 mi. round trip mainly to Washington, Oregon and California, during which I visited 75 CBs. There was an eight day, 3,568 mi. trip to visit 132 CBs, last October, which was the most.

All together, according to my spreadsheet, I traveled 41,340 road miles hunting covered bridges. (Actually I’ve traveled much further than that, I’ve visited several bridges many times, and I’ve made side trips to motels and other places.) It has been a very interesting journey. I have over 8,000 photos to document it.

Rush was right.

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