Doing Sums

Each month I do Jade Mountains accounts and send them to the treasurer of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives Activities Trust. This is the charity which receives donations made to support me to live. Food, utilities, my everyday needs basically. Recently I have been using an Excel spreadsheet which a kind fellow monk constructed specifically for my use. For those not familiar with spreadsheets they work like magic! They do all the adding up, saving somebody like me lot of time with a calculator. I love the spreadsheet, or did until today.

Try as I may I could not get my numbers to tally. I keep a running total during the month of small payments from petty cash. I added and re added my numbers but to no avail. After what seemed hours it dawned on me the problem was with the spreadsheet itself. It had added up the numbers incorrectly! How unquestioning I was. Of course a program would not make a mistake. I do that! But as it turned out, ultimately, it was me who was at fault. A program is only as good as the instructions you give it. Change the instructions and the sums come out right. Oh but what a long time it took me to realize this.

There is something to learn from this however it is too late to articulate. Perhaps to remember that programs are only as good as the instructions you give them in the first place. Programs are NOT magic.

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