It's been awhile. I have new job that's VB.net,C++ and fortran (http://www.gses.com) so there's not much time to play with Access/Excel anymore. I found a function CountA that does what I want as long as my list is the onlu thing in the column.
I just do =COUNTA(A:A) and it sums up all the cells with text. Of course subtract one it I include a header.
I'll look at countif tomorrow to see if it is a better choice.