Tag: office

In Need of a New Office Chair

Apparently, chairs die. I’m not exactly sure when I got my current office chair, but I think it was at least 7 years ago. Since I work mostly from home these days, I sit on the chair a lot, and the wear and tear takes its toll. The chair squeaks constantly these days. WD-40 works for a day or so before the squeaking starts up again. Then, too, the mesh in the seat of the chair has developed holes. Moreover, it has been stretched to the point where it rests upon the pole supporting the seat, which isn’t particularly comfortable. It reminds me of that Leslie Nielsen line from The Naked Gun: “The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Sure, not as much as jumping on a bicycle without a seat. But it hurt.”

This evening, I finally ordered a new office chair. It is not a particularly fancy chair, like the Aeron chair I had in my office at work. But it is a step up from the chair I have today. And if it manages to last another 7 years it will be well worth the cost.

Not long ago, I ordered a new desk. My old desk was falling apart, like my chair is today. The desk I ordered was a sit-stand desk. It was my idea that it would be good to stand for at least part of the day, and for a while, that is just what I did. Recently, Grace has commented that she never sees me actually standing at the desk. What does she know? She is in school all day. The truth is that I have been sitting more than I have been standing lately.

My intentions were good when I got the desk. After a while, I told myself that I would stand during meetings. I tend to have a lot of meetings and so I figured that would be good. But then, I’d forget to stand during the meeting, and not remember until after. Getting a new chair probably won’t help the situation much, especially if it is a comfortable chair. Besides, I get out for a 2-1/2 mile walk each morning and usually go for another 2 mile walk with Kelly in the evenings, so I am getting plenty of time standing, right?

If I am being perfectly honest, however, I have to admit that I sat at my desk all day today. I woke up this morning with the goal of consolidating 4,000 lines of Groovy Script as much as I possibly could. I wanted to the code to be reusable. The fact that there was 4,000 lines of code in the first place was pure laziness on my part. So I sat in my broken chair at 8 am and begin consolidating code, writing functions that handle repetitive task, generalizing things. With the exception of an hours break for lunch and my afternoon nap, I didn’t stop until just after 6 pm. Days like that typically result in what I call a code-coma. It is hard to come out of the weeds and back into the world after focusing on code for nearly 10 hours. But I succeeded! Sitting there in my broken chair, I consolidated 4,000 lines of code into 650. Not bad, if you ask me.

It is sometimes difficult to get out of these code comas. Kelly suggested dinner at a local beer garden this evening. On the way there, we stopped to get passport photos of the three kids. We are planning a trip to Ireland next summer, and the kids will need passports for that. So we got their photos and then headed to the beer garden. The evening was just about perfect. The beer was good, the burger was okay, and it was just what I needed to lift me out of that code coma.

Back home, I sat in this broken chair, trying to decide what to write about, and finally settled on the chair itself. The new chair is due to arrive on Wednesday. If nothing else, I’ll post a short update when the new chair is installed and ready for use.

It turned out to be a productive day in this broken old chair of mine. I consolidated 4,000 lines of code down to 650. We got the kids passports photos taken care of. (The actual passport appointment is Friday morning.) I managed to get a fair amount of reading done on my walks. I had a nice dinner with the family. And it occurred to me that today was important for one other reason. It is September 27, 2021, which means today, I am 49-1/2 years old. That may not seem particularly significant to you, but to me, it means that I have ten years–3,652 days–until I retire. Then 10-year countdown clock begins today. Assuming things continue more or less as they have been these last 27 years, I will retire just shy of my 37th anniversary with the company. I’m good with that. Zach will be about to graduate from college; Grace will be at the beginning of her junior year in college; and the Littlest Miss will have just started high school I’m okay with that, too.

Maybe, if I stand at my standing desk a little more each week than I have been, I can stretch the life of my new office chair to 10 years. When I retire, as a retirement present, I can buy myself a new office chair.

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A Newer Healthier Desk for My Office

During Amazon’s Prime days, I finally bit the bullet and decided to order a new desk for my office. I had my old desk for more than seven years. It was a glass-topped desk that I thought was great at the time, but I grew to hate it, mainly because I could never seem to keep the glass clean. Also because I hated looking through the surface of my desk to see the mess of wires beneath.

Given my renewed focus on writing and getting into shape, I decided to get myself a sit-stand desk. My idea was that I would stand whenever I was working, and sit when I am not working. Given that the former tends to be more than the latter (especially since I consider writing work), I would be standing more than I would be sitting. I did the usual comparisons and found a desk that I liked. I did not have a glass top. It does have up to 3 pre-settings for the height of the desk, and controls for moving the desk up or down. It also has a good deal of surface area, which is important to me. Here are a couple of pictures, one of the desk in “standing” mode, one in “sitting” mode.

Standing desk
The new desk in standing mode
new desk in sitting mode
The new desk in sitting mode

I looked up the ergonomics for a desk for someone of my height, both sitting and standing. I set the pre-settings based on what the data told me, so now I have an ergonomically sound desk when both standing and sitting.

We had sit/stand desks in my office, back when I would go into the office on a regular basis, and I often used them in standing mode. I will say that after a day spent mostly on my feet, I feel like I have been on my feet all day.

I managed to put together the new desk in about an hour. There was some logistics involved in clearing off the old desk, dismantling it, and moving the new desk into place, but I managed. I am very happy with the result. Moreover, I think I now have space for one additional bookshelf in my office if I close that gap between the new desk and the filing cabinet to the right.

I hate seeing the web of wires and I took an old poster and stuck it against the wall behind the desk to hide the mess. Eventually, I get that cleaned up. For now, it is quick hack that does the trick for me.

For those wondering what desk I ordered, it was the FEZIBO L-Shaped Electric Standing Desk (55″ model in black). Amazon current lists it for $359.99, but when I ordered on Prime Day, it was $70 off, and I got an additional $20 off as part of a “lightning deal.”

It is interesting to see how my desks have changed over the years, from that big, wood desk I had for a long time, to the glass desk I had for seven years after that, to my office today.

Apparently, I am getting closer and closer to my ideal office. Maybe I’ll achieve that right at the point that I retire to begin writing full time.

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New Office, All Done!

Two and a half months after moving into the new house, my new office is now completely setup the way I want it. Yesterday I completed the task of organizing the books on the shelves, as I mentioned. I opted to keep the same sort order I originally used, alphabetical by author and then chronological within an author. It was just easier that way. There are a couple of sorting exceptions where a large book is involved, but otherwise, they are back in order after more than 10 years of disarray.

It took a long time, and I was up late working on this. I didn’t want to quit until I had it done. The sorting was complicated by the fact that the books had been arranged in no real order, beyond how they came out of the boxes. That meant a lot of hunting down a book in order to put it in its proper place. What I did was sort the books in LibraryThing based on their entry date. That way, I had a rough idea of what shelf they were on by where they showed up in the list. I worked one shelf at a time, removing all of the books on the shelf, and then refilling it with properly sorted books. At the peak of the process, this meant I had books scattered everywhere.

Once I was finished, I straightened up the rest of the office, got rid of a bunch of junk I’d been collecting, and after lunch, here is how my mostly-complete office looked:

My office, looking east
Looking east, from a slightly different angle
My office, looking south (and into the living room)
My office, looking northwest

I say “mostly” complete because we still have to have French doors installed between my office and the living room. Everyone will be happier when this is done, given my volume of work-related called and video chat.

While putting the books in order last night, I took note of how many of them were signed. The result: 52 of them: a full deck.

My New Office

We moved into our new house on Tuesday and one of the first things I did was get as much of my new office setup as possible. I had to be able to work on Wednesday, and I needed my office to do that.

Our new neighbors mentioned that they were impressed with how quickly the books filled my bookshelves. I neglected to mention that, at this point, I put the books on the shelves in the order they came out of the boxes. It would be difficult for me to find a particular volume.

But the office is shaping up, with half of it—the working half—more or less functional, if not a bit messy.

The working part of my office
The “working” part of my office.

The other half of the office is another matter. I still have eighteen boxes of books to unpack, with no place to put the books as of yet. At some point, I’ll get some more bookshelves, but it will be a close call as to whether all the books will actually fit in this room. All of the pictures that hang on the walls throughout the house are also being temporarily housed in the other half of my office. It will be a while for that side to be cleared up.

The other, cluttered part of my office.
The other, cluttered part of my office.

With the new house, comes a new network, and this one is fiber, and I can tell the difference. We had good download speeds at our old house, but nothing like what we have here. We also have good coverage throughout the house, but even so, the two laptops in my office are connected via ethernet when I am in here to give me the fastest possible speeds.

Sitting at my desk, I am surrounded on three sides, which is something I’ve wanted for a long time. Now I have enough surface area for my laptops and notebooks. Nothing matches at this point, but over time I plan to replace my current desk with stuff that matches throughout the office. It is low priority. I need to be functional, and what I have rigged up in here is good enough for now.

My 3-sided desk area.
3-sided desk area

There’s so much to do I don’t even know where to begin:

  1. I need to organize the stuff on my desk to be functional. I want things that I need at arm’s reach.
  2. Organize what I have in the drawers. They are a mess right now. I purged a bunch of stuff last night, but I can do better.
  3. Hide all of the cables. I rushed to get operational, but I really want to hide as much of the cabling as I can manage.
  4. Add French doors to the entrance. It opens into the living room right now, and that has already proved tricky when I am on calls.
  5. Put all my books back into order. I may wait until the rest of the family heads to the beach for a few days later this summer to tackle that project.

All of that aside, I love this office. I love the light I get from all around. I love being able to look into the park that our house backs up to. It is a great place to work. I am hoping it will be an equally great place to write, to think, and to read.