“I am so lucky that I have been able to create art and music and fulfill my passions through my job for the past 11 years. But I’m stupid enough to have put all my eggs in one basket. It is now the only thing I can do to make money. I’m 33 years old and I can’t make coffee. I don’t know how to use Excel, or bartend, or wait tables, and I’m officially too old to join the police force.” Le Tigre’s JD Samson
This led to a discussion of the relative merits of making coffee and using Excel.
EMILY SAIDEL: I didn’t learn to make coffee until I was 22, and that was for a job. I don’t drink coffee. My previous roommate doesn’t drink coffee. My boyfriend, my brother, and quite a few of my friends don’t drink coffee. Although clearly there is a massive industry surrounding this admittedly delicious smelling potable, it is not essential to modern life.
Given some of the prices for buying it, rather than making it at home, a coffee habit may be a constant drain on a person’s budget. A good night’s sleep can usually balance the need for caffeine. But the ability to mail merge or to perform a regression. Priceless.
But how will an individual know if coffee is a drain, without the powers of Excel to track a budget? Yes, Quicken or Mint.com could serve this purpose, but Excel can do that and more. Excel can be used as a database, as a chart-and-graph maker, as a trend tracker, and as a stepping stone to presentations. Excel can and is used by individuals and groups, corporations and non-profits alike. Coffee is a delivery system for caffeine and its accompanying jitters. Coffee in large enough amounts (500-600 milligrams) acts as a diuretic. Excel will never affect your bodily functions.
It’s possible that another program will take the place of Excel over the next few years, but that doesn’t diminish the usefulness of the model. Currently Excel is the industry standard. Coffee, on the other hand, remains in its centuries-old struggle with its ancient challenger–tea.
HOWARD MEGDAL: I take strong exception to the idea that Excel skills are more important than knowing how to make coffee.
Coffee is, as a drink, a singular social lubricator that is acceptable to drink any time of day. It provides the drinker with energy. Studies indicate it provides defense against certain types of cancers. Merely brewing it infuses an entire room with a lovely smell. And coffee’s been around far longer than Excel, with the likelihood that it will easily outlast Excel.
As for Excel? Does nothing for you socially. Doesn’t energize anyone, while the budget-based stats on it, in this economy, likely produce depression. Doesn’t prevent cancer; does increase chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. Merely fills a room with sickly light. And even without Steve Jobs, will likely be outpaced by a better, faster program at some point.
You know what happens if you melt chocolate on your spreadsheet? Your computer breaks. You know what happens when you melt chocolate in your coffee? MOCHA.