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John's World: Sir, Please Step Away From the Computer

February 7, 2011
By: John Phipps, Farm Journal Columnist
 
 

JohnPhipps(1)I haven’t been well lately. I feel sluggish, my back hurts, my right arm aches, my butt is sore, my eyes are bleary and my neck seems to be locked in one position. Strangely, my weight has increased as well.

It must be the flu—yeah, that makes sense. But one thing it is not is the fact that I have not moved from my computer since Dec. 17 or so. Not counting trips to the refrigerator and the, uh, you know.

I once calculated that I spend more than 75% of my time doing work my father never did. That ratio may be moving up as cobwebs form between my head and the computer monitor. But there is so much to do! Starting early in the morning means I should be able to get a bunch done and still have a chance to, say, stand up and move something other than my fingers and mouse hand.

The farm books, for example, need to be closed out. But before I do that, I need to update my software to get all the new features I’ll probably never use. The download will only take a half-hour, so meanwhile I’ll fuss with my budget spreadsheet.

Say what you will, but this job has almost become fun with $6 corn and $13 beans. I wonder what even higher prices would do? Hokey smoke! Now I have to reformat about half of the 32 pages of my budget workbook for wider columns and maybe fool around with the fonts, borders and colors while I’m at it.

Time slips away. OK, that took a little longer than I thought, but at least the accounting updates are ready to install. I like to watch the little progress bars while the programs revise the files … hey, there’s an e-mail from my brother-in-law, "The Infinite Forwarder."

Well, that’s 18 minutes of my life I want back. Now that the accounting program has restarted, I think I’ll check out all the cool new tools … whoa, what a totally awesome report! It’s got graphs and ratios and tables and everything. Wonder what the heck it means?

Is it dark already? Nah, it can’t be—I’m still in my jammies. Maybe it’s just raining or something.

I could look out the window to my right, but I’d better check my five favorite weather sites for real-world verification first.

Brilliant thought: I’ll duplicate and daisy-chain new budgets into the next decade. Build some links here and here, create some new formulae for input trends, and voila! Things look pretty good for 2019, I must say.

Except my news feed just brought the news about natural gas prices and potash inventories. Need to do some tweaking there … hmm, my stomach is rumbling. Not to worry, I think I dropped a Fig Newton behind the bass speaker last week (or was it last month?). Got it! A little chewy, but most of the dust blew off. Now all I have left to do is a quick check of markets and my favorite blogs.

Boy, great link to a story about the Chinese buying farmland in Madagascar. It’s longer than I thought, so I’ll use my laptop to keep reading during supper. It’s great to see my wife, umm—no, don’t tell me—Jan, that’s it! To provide some dinner conversation, I’ll read her a few e-mails I think she might enjoy.

After supper, all I need to do is check my calendar and … that’s funny, I could have sworn it was still December. Yikes! I need to book some flights, but that won’t take long.

Later that evening. I saved 35 bucks by comparing 112 itineraries on six airlines—not bad for 90 minutes of surfing. Now I need to back up my work—wait, I remember reading about a free app I can download to automate that job. I’ll just Google it and … wow, look at the prices for USB external hard drives! Luckily I have my credit card info memorized, so wham! bam! problem solved.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Mid-February 2011

 

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