The Most Unusual Place You’ve Had SAS


So, what is the most unusual place that you have had SAS?

Okay, I admit it; I used a somewhat provocative title and lead sentence to get you to read this blog.  It must have worked because here you are.  But, do not worry; there are no hidden meanings, untoward innuendos, or inappropriate double-entendres from here onward.  Instead, I am going to rephrase the central question with the hope that you will be inspired to answer it by taking the time to post a comment to this blog.

What I am really asking is for an answer to any of the following:

  • What is the most unusual location you have written a SAS program from?
  • What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a SAS program?
  • What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a SAS program from?
  • What is the most unusual SAS application program that you wrote?

Given the breadth and scope of the SAS experience readers of the SAS Bookshelf blogs have, I would bet that we will get a very interesting mix of answers to these questions.  Perhaps you wrote SAS programs on a laptop on the beach while on vacation.  Maybe you wrote a must-have-now SAS program at great personal risk during a ferocious lightning storm.  Perhaps you ran SAS programs in batch on a VAX computer back in the day.  Or, maybe you wrote a SAS program that computed the total number of jelly beans that could be stored in a 1-pint container.  Whatever the case, you are bound to have an interesting anecdote.

Being the author of this blog, I will go first.  I’ve written SAS programs in various office settings, at the beach, on airplanes, in hotels, and in a vacation rental at a dude ranch.  But, none of those were the most unusual for me.

The most unusual location that I wrote a SAS program from was sitting at a desk in the screened-in porch of a rental house.  At first read, that doesn’t sound too unusual.  But, the fact is that the previous week a violent thunderstorm with winds of up to 85-miles per hour swept through the Washington DC suburbs shattering an otherwise tranquil Friday night.  At about 9:45 pm, a 100-plus-foot oak tree fell completely across my back yard, through the roof from the plate glass window at the back of my living room, across the living room, across the foyer and projected forty feet into the front yard.  It cut my house in half and missed me by eight feet.  So, sitting in a rental house a mile-and-a-half away from what was left of my home, writing a SAS program was, to say the least, unusual.

I realize that is a bit of an outlier circumstance, but it is the best I can come up with.  How about you?

So, what is the most unusual place that you have had SAS?

Be sure to take a look at Michael Raithel's latest book How to Become a Top SAS Programmer.


About Author

Michael A. Raithel

Senior systems analyst for Westat and SAS Press author

Michael A. Raithel is a senior systems analyst for Westat, an employee-owned contract research organization in the Washington, DC area. An internationally recognized expert in the use of SAS software in mainframe and UNIX environments, he is the author of over 25 SAS technical papers and is a popular lecturer at SAS Global Forum and at regional SAS conferences. He has written four books for SAS; the most recent book is How to Become a Top SAS Programmer. A copy of the first edition Tuning SAS Applications in the MVS Environment, resides in the Smithsonian Institution of American History’s Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology.


  1. When I owned a hobby farm property, I would mow about 2 acres of lawn. Took up most of a Saturday to do it, but riding the tractor made for lots of time to muse on possible solutions to programming issues, so you can guess where a good part of the evening went!

  2. The most unusual place actually was quite usual: work. The catch was, I fired up an instance of SAS to do what normally I'd do on a pocket calculator. But do you think I could find one that day....

  3. The most unusual SAS program I wrote was to transpose scales by writing another software's code with SAS. This code was for a music type setting software. I demonstrated this in a poster at SAS Global Forum 14.

  4. Fellow SAS Programming Professionals,

    Well, it is official. This is the #1 read blog on the SAS Bookshelf for 2014. Thank you for reading it and, as always: Best of luck in all your SAS endeavors!

    (aka Michael A. Raithel)

  5. David Corliss on

    I often work on programs in the Planetarium at Wayne State University. I do public shows there two or three times a week. Most shows include a short film at the end - about 20 minutes - and I will work on research projects while the film is running.

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      That's the great thing about having SAS on a laptop; you can program anywhere!

      BTW, the closest I've come to your experience is to have Gustav Holst's "The Planets" playing in the background while programming at home.

  6. A production job had gone wrong (in the UK) when I was touring New Zealand. I found myself coding via a remote terminal window, on a Palm Pilot, attached to a mobile phone (no 3G in those days) on the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu - as it was the only place I could get a GSM signal. For good measure, there was a 4.something earthquake that evening too.

    • Michael A. Raithel on

      What a very clever setup you cobbled together to get the job done!

  7. Lionel Teed on

    Well....I was about to reply along the lines of the back seat of a car. My Lovely daughter was driving to meet up with a friend of mine in a fantastic Tourist Location (for a Canadian!) and I had just rec'd a call from the Boss asking for some information quickly. I turned on the laptop, plugged in the 'Rocket Stick', went to the VPN site and logoned on remotely to my desktop and started to build up a SAS query to answer her question.

    I have also managed to have 'SAS' on a cottage 'dock', by the water. Once again, had an executive call me up while I was languishing about enjoying the rugged Canadian North view. Firedup the Laptop, plugged in 'the stick' and proceeded to provide the desired answer. At one point I 'lounged about' in the boat, so I suppose I could argue that I have managed to do it on water also!

    Just a few days ago I had 'SAS' in a true 'virtual' experience! I was at home in the deepest, darkest parts of Urban-Rural Ontario. I proceeded to 'remote' to the Desktop located far away in Ontario's Capital. From that desktop I then proceeded to 'remote' to a US Location. And from that US Location I then executed a test SAS Program that retieved information from a Canadian Location, executed on a US Machine and output results to a seperate Canadian Location. It was quite an amazing Geographical trip! Fortunately, I had my 'Nexus' available and managed to use the 'Fast Lane' to get the job done quickly!

    Technology has certainly proivded an amazing capacity to some of us!

  8. Thad McConchie on

    Coding at a conference is not odd, but I may be the only person ever to write SAS code at the College Art Association conference. (My wife forced me to go with her.)

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      Wow; so you were a left brained person in a right brained conference:-)!

  9. Andre Wielki on

    In the fortress of a like " Fort Knox " equivalent in France,
    the first minutes of the first day of a short course of SAS (under CMS)
    when i submit a proc freq on the secret employees files for the sex variable
    obtaining x males(code 1)
    y females(code 2)
    and z for the code 3 undetermined but more than 10 ?!
    were memorable.

  10. Andrew T. Kuligowski on

    Not quite what you're asking, BUT I once finished reading / reviewing an advance copy of a SASPress book while in the outfield seats at Tropicana Field, waiting for a (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays game to start. (No, I don't think it was yours, Mikey.)

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      I hope you got the mustard and beer stains off of the copy of the manuscript you sent back to SAS Press!

  11. Not me,but a friend: as Desert Storm ramped up, he had to write a program while on board a cargo plane between the US and the Middle East, to attend to matching protocols among communications equipment by the different international forces that were to going to be be on the ground. He had a hard deadline: it has to be deployed as soon as he arrived, before troops engaged in battle.

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      Wow; that is the most intense deadline pressure I have ever heard of. BTW, please thank your friend for his service.

  12. Craig Dickstein on

    Mike - thanks for the opportunity to mention my "most unusual" ... While "thru-hiking" the Appalachian Trail in the summer of 2005 I met a client at the Big Meadows Campground in the Shenandoah National Park (Virginia). After catching up and sharing some of my experiences since leaving Georgia he mentioned that he had a SAS program problem and would I be willing to take a look. So, joining him in his RV with his laptop, I took a look. The "problem" was that the program had not yet been written. Three hours and a pot of coffee later I had a working program that solved his "problem". I encountered many interesting and wonderful things that summer on the Trail, but never did I expect to write a SAS program.

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      Oh, too funny! Great story, especially because the Big Meadows Campground on Skyline Drive is an easy drive from the Washington, DC suburbs and one of my favorite destinations.

  13. Pingback: The most unusual place you’ve written code | Java Gems

  14. Chris Hemedinger on

    I've had SAS in the kitchen many times. And I've PROC'd in the back seat of my car. I even joined the "mile-high club" when I DATA-stepped on a plane. When you need SAS, you need it -- by any MEANS necessary! Don't be afraid to get FREQ-y in public.

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      ...and here I was trying to keep things G-rated:-)! Too funny.

  15. Many years ago, I frequently found myself at various universities collaborating with others. I would often be given access to their mainframe system. Each system, of course, had a different flavor of software available from a terminal so finding a simple text editor for any simple task was difficult. I would frequently fire up SAS since the program editor worked in each environment and could solve the problem it hand. It was not SAS code, just a configuration file or some other text file that needed some editing!

  16. Robert Allison on

    The most unusual place I've ever written a SAS program was standing in a ~6-ft deep hole, in an archaeological dig, in Allendale, SC, working on some proof-of-concept graphs to visualize the distribution of artifacts (the artifacts were were some of the oldest in North America, at around 12k years old!). Here's what the graph looked like (this one uses made-up date)...

    • Michael A. Raithel on


      Wow; now _THAT_ is a really innovative, cool use of SAS/Graph software!

      BTW, I thoroughly enjoy your SAS/Graph blog posts on the SAS Training and Books web site:

      I hope readers of this blog who are not already aware of it are now... aware of it.

      (aka Michael A. Raithel)

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