writing rengeek magpie mind

April 2014



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If I could go back there I'd be my own angel

Like many people in my line of work, I suffer from a few of the drawbacks of typing for a living. One of those is sedentism (a bunch of my writer friends and I tend to refer to our butts as our "street cred"--wordcount is produced by Butt In Chair) and another one is the real bugbear of writerdom, RSI.

Well, I have been "fortunate" on the RSI front, in that I was forced by an early injury to start paying attention to my ergonomics much sooner than many writers of my acquaintance. Alas, since I moved into the 113-year-old house I currently inhabit, my work habits have slipped. 113-year-old houses, you see, are not noted for the plenitude and accessibility of their electrical outlets. So I have been working on my laptop on the couch a lot, rather than either at my desk or in the comfy typing chair I bought specifically for keeping my legs elevated and my arms level while I work.

And I've been similarly ill-ergoed when working at my boyfriend's place... and I'm sure a certain amount of Angry Birds hasn't helped. Ahem.

And I have been lazy about my wrist braces. Bad bear, no biscuit.

The last big push on Steles of the Sky resulted in cold hands and tingling, and served as a serious wakeup call. So today, in the midst of cleaning up the house-filth leftover from deadline crunch, I ran an extension cord to over by my favorite typing chair... and I collected some hoarded materials and built the standing desk I've been meaning to build for the past four years or so.

I am typing at you from it now, and it seems to work fine. (And hey, suddenly playing Tetris is virtue! I'm at my standing desk! I am helping myself to not die!)

The evidence, more and more, seems to support that sitting still for long periods of time is just plain bad for you. I generally try to break up my seated life with getting up to move, even if it's just dancing with the dog for five minutes, but I've worked enough retail to know that it's pretty easy to stay on your feet for eight hours if you take care of your body, and I've worked enough desk jobs to know that sitting still for that long kind of sucks.

So I boosted my work surface.

I will probably switch back and forth between the two stations as needed, but for the foreseeable future I'm going to try to spend a few hours a day at the standing desk. We'll see how it goes, and if it helps the RSI.

Working with elevated legs sure solves a whole bunch of problems I was having with my feet and ankles; we'll see if this is a similar improvement. It's really nice to have the laptop off my, you know, lap. It means I'm freer to shift around.

Even if I do feel like an exhibit at lookatthisfuckinghipster.


Standing Desk (very homebrew):

2013-02-27 20.42.54

Other workspace:

2013-02-27 20.42.20

(It's winter in New England. We believe in Afghans.)


Yay, Bear! Standing desk looks great.
Being able to switch between sitting and standing has done wonders for my entire body, so I salute you (I was not DIYnifty enough to build my own - I bought a cafe table and stuck it opposite my regular desk).

But mostly, I'm just here in solidarity with the Afghans. I have two sofas and (currently) six afghans and blankets draped across them. It's just How I Was Raised.
Afghan. Essential to comfort and well being.
Standing desks are fun. I like your setup. At work, I was lucky that they let me mod my desk to turn it into a standing/sitting desk where I can switch back and forth. It's not a pretty as your setup though :). I work in tech support, so Microsoft certification training texts come in handy for raising the monitor, when they are stacked on the computer case, which sits on the desk on its side. Most days I stand the entire 8 hours, since it is what my body tends to like best.

At home I'm really bad and usually end up curling up on the couch or papasan chair with my laptop for working on schoolwork, language learning or being busy on the interwebs. Part of that is that I don't have room for a desk and I have a hard time working at the kitchen table.

*grin* As for Afghans, you can never have too many. (as I am curled up here typing wrapped in one, with another draped over the back of the couch and a third on the chair across the room) ;)

Enjoy your desk and stay warm :) (I've been jealous of the snow that the East Coast has been getting. I grew up in NY, and told my parents that they need to send it all back west to Colorado)
My husband has a standing desk (inherited from his father, and finally unpacked from storage when we moved in November). He seems to like it a lot. He has also had RSI problems from an early age -- he got really conscientious about posture and wrist rests in college, and he avoids using the mouse as much as possible. (He's tried alternate pointing devices without finding them much of an improvement -- he uses the keyboard to navigate as much as software allows.)

However, I keep staring at the plastic on the windows and weeping at the thought of how cold it must be.
Aw, by cold climate standards, Southern New England isn't all that cold. I think we've only hit 20 below twice in my lifetime.

I generally prefer too cold to too hot. There's a limit to how many clothes you can take off.
That looks like a pretty nifty and flexible set-up. And also nice afghans! I don't understand people who don't have a bunch of them hanging around the livingroom. Even if you don't live in a cold climate, it's still nice to cuddle up in one sometimes! And for cold climates, I think they're an essential!
A pot of tea, an afghan or two, a snuggly companion animal (cats in my case) curled up beside me, and a good book. That's my idea of paradise.

Another danger for people who sit at desks a lot is deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the veins of the lower leg that can break loose, go into your lungs and kill you). I lost a colleague that way. Standing lessens the danger of this also. I have to have a foot pedal as I type transcripts of tapes. Because of problems with leg and ankle swelling, I figured out a way to fix my foot pedal to the wall so I could work from a recliner, which has really helped. I never thought of a standing desk. I wonder if you could use a foot pedal while standing? I'll have to try it.

I'm curious about your setup. When you decide to work sitting in your desk chair, do you shift your keyboard to the lower shelf?
I've used a steno machine, and I think I could use a foot pedal with this setup. I might have to rest a butt cheek on a stool...

I probably could do what you describe, but I have not tried it yet.
Afghans are essential for winter even here in the deep south. At least they are for me. Your home is beautiful, btw. Is that a stained glass window over your desk?
It is. Original to the old, drafty house. *g*

'm not sure all my Ikea furniture really goes with the design aesthetic of the home, but my aesthetic is "Get as many books as the joists will hold into any given space." ;-)
Wait, there's an design aesthetic besides "Can I squeeze another bookshelf in this corner?" Hey, I think I just cobbled to the major benefit to a house on a slab...

Eh, aesthetics be damned. Furniture should be comfortable and sturdy. Your house looks like a nice place to bundle up and read a good book.
Afghans are wonderful to help with warmth, as are hats and fingerless mitts. spouse has a sleeping bag that he drapes over his stack of afghans when it gets too cold in the poorly heated region of the house where the TV lives.

I like your desk. *applauds*

Thanks for the heads up on the dangers of sitting continuously. I should figure out how to do more sitting tasks while standing. It would probably do me good.
Ooh, are those milk crates? I set a ridiculous heart-shaped step stool that my mother in law gave us on top of my desk, which works pretty well to hold my laptop, but then everything else ends up on the original desk surface. I'm also a fan of the yoga ball as a chair, though, since I end up rolling around and fidgiting with it.
They're plastic crates, yeah, but not quite as tall as milk crates.

I have a core ball, but I rarely use it to sit on. I prefer my legs elevated if I'm working.
Standing desk would be great - I think I'd really like that. Laptops are not good for back and arms and wrists - damn their portability!
Yeah, I was having to be careful about my wrists last month - this month I sent on revisions, which tends to mean less thing and also less time spent in one go because I don't seem to like revising, and also on dealing with moving house, which means lots of distractions from my proper work. The new house has my desk up stairs from the dining tale, where I've been doing more work. I think going up and down steps is good for me, but lack of proximity to the kitchen seems to preclude my using the desk as much as I should (also, I need a higher chair for it).
Alas for the ideal that keeps us from using the KITCHEN so much.