Standing Workstation

Constantly aware of the fact that I will one day succumb to being an adult, a topic recently entered my periphery, worked it’s way into my thoughts and gestated it’s way into a full on obsession. Being a 24 year old, 6 foot plus human being, I am increasingly more aware of the fact that my poor habits are going to take a toll on my body someday. So, when I was listening to the Tested podcast the other day (highly recommended if you’re interested in tech and other geekery) and the topic of standing workstations came about– I took notice.

I’ve heard the argument for standing vs. sitting at your workstation before, but it didn’t really take a hold of me until the other day. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m spending so much energy trying to become more healthy lately, but it really stuck in my brain the whole rest of the night at work after the topic came up. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense; it would be healthier and it could save a bunch of space in a room that is desperate for space.

I have a giant unwieldy desk in my room that holds my two monitors, a PC tower, a PS3, speakers, etc. It’s got a weird shape, it’s low quality wood, and the terrible design of it makes it almost useless trying to use it for writing or doing homework on the desk surface itself. Directly next to the desk and occupying the rest of my wall space on that side of the room is a digital piano that ends up often as a storage place for junk, with a guitar amp and various other gear below it. My room isn’t very large as it is, so that all takes up a lot of room. I still have a queen sized bed and a dresser that are stealing the rest of my room. What this standing workstation idea will allow me to possibly do, is get rid of that shitty computer desk altogether and in it’s place put my dresser, and on top of the dresser, an addition to which my computing will be done on.

Let me illustrate with a pair of images that I hope are the absolute worst quality things that ever grace this blog. First off: the trial desk I have constructed using various items to allow myself to see how comfortable or uncomfortable standing while computing is:

That is indeed a Spongebob Squarepants mousepad and a DVD boxset of Seinfeld acting as the stand for my monitor. I am currently using my netbook attatched to one of my monitors to give myself an idea of how it will work. So far, it’s been very comfortable. Being tall, my desk is too low to the ground for me and it causes me to sit hunched over to use it properly (even more so because I don’t have enough money to buy a proper computer chair with adjustable height) anyway. This setup just works better for me I think. I am going to give it a couple of days to make sure I don’t despise it, but I’m feeling pretty good about it thus far even though I am admittedly only about 4 hours into the trial.

If I do like it, the current set up just won’t do, obviously. I don’t pretend to be much of an interior designer, but it’s quite a mess. That’s why I have begun to draw up ideas for what I think a finished product might look like. Enter crappy image number 2:

Here are the rough dimensions I am working with, and what I think would be a decent setup to work with. My main worries are stability. I think the stand and desk itself would be easy enough to build, but I’m not sure if hard mounting the stand to the dresser is a tenable idea seeing as it’s not technically mine. I’m hoping that the legs, however I decide to build them will be sturdy enough and that the weight of the monitors and other things will be enough to keep it in place. As long as the wobble is negligible and me tripping in the morning isn’t enough to send hundreds of dollars of equipment crashing to the floor, I will be satisfied.

I am kind of set on building because desks, standing workstation desks in particular, are stupidly expensive. I’ll let everyone know how it goes. If anyone has a great advice to give out to someone that’s considering standing workstation, toss it my way. I’ve done a ton of reading over the last 2 days, but there’s always some weird quirk that never makes it into those kinds of articles.

Here is a nice link on the pros and cons of standing workdesks: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/05/ditch-your-office-chair-for-a-new-standing-desk/

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How I got here…

On July 4th, at 3 in the morning, I was awake in bed with Twitter and Wired’s live stream of the Higgs boson press conference open on my laptop. While I was up doing this, the thought crossed my mind: “What events lead me to this point?”. I’ve touched on how I’ve arrived at geology in the past, and I’ve talked a bit about why I wanted to get into science, but I don’t think I ever described my life before that decision and informed how I got there.

When I graduated high school in 2006 (I feel old typing that), I was making my disposable income doing freelance art and graphic design for bands and record labls and had every intention to get a degree in graphic design from a fancy art school while pumping out art on the side. Not being able to convince my parents to co-sign on the idea of spending $45k for a 3 year education, I instead went to a local community college to get an associates degree while trying to get my own art and design company/brand off the ground (My eventual client sheet would be a mile long and include a lot of national touring bands and labels such as (excuse my bragging, but it’s fun to reflect) Victory Records, Mediaskare Records, Eulogy Records, Hellfish Family, Between The Buried and Me, Evergreen Terrace, Foundation, This Is Hell, The Effort, Beneath The Sky, Ambush! and a myriad of small local bands that never did anything that anyone cared about.

The interesting thing about being involved in the design and production side of music, is that you start to learn a lot of the ins and outs about how independent labels work and who you need to talk to and what you need to do to get things moving. I was so close, so many times to pulling the trigger on starting my own record label (and it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at later in life, still) and buying a screen printing setup to start printing mine and other people’s work for sale (I actually started down this path with another person and I backed out, so sorry to them if they’re reading this for whatever reason). Fortunately for myself, I wasn’t doing booming business, and between working part-time, going to school and doing freelance on the side, I started to investigate other live paths.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when, but at some point during this time, I subscribed to a podcast called The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, a podcast about science, skepticism and critical thinking. Those were things that I was sorely lacking at this point in my life. I subscribed because I heard it was a cool science podcast and I was eager to listen to cool science shit. What I got instead was something that really, and actually changed my life. Critical thinking is not something I was exposed to much growing up, and this podcast was dismantling things I thought to be true, or never thought to question before on a consistent basis every week; UFO’s, ghosts, etc . and then blowing my mind by producing mountains of evidence against things that I never would’ve suspected to be untrue; chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, and a million other types of ‘alt-med’ crap. On top of that they also had the cool science shit that I wanted initially.

Throughout that presentation of critical thinking and skepticism came the loud booming recommendation of Carl Sagan’s book ‘The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark‘. In my humble opinion, I think that everyone, not just people that are interested in science, should read this book. It’s one of the most important things to have ever happened to me, and I feel like if everyone read this book and took it’s message to heart, the world would be a much better place. This book is skepticism and critical thinking at it’s most accessible, and uses examples that remain relevant to provide a case for why it’s so important. The reason that I think the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe changed my life was that it introduced me to this book.

After that, I became incredibly interested in investigating and critically analyzing subjects. This period of my life involved me writing many long-winded passionate responses to climate change denial on various internet forums and lead to the reading binge that lead me to ‘The Weather Makers’, further fueling my interest in climate change, and finally geology.

It’s weird to look back at things like that. It’s kind of neat actually.