Sunday, January 22, 2012

On The Usefulness of a Pleasant Desk

vn4044ma.5rwI can’t believe I’ve been blogging now (fairly) consistently since 2005. I’ve gone from a peak posting rate of 311 posts in 2007 down to a low of just 40 posts last year in 2011.

Finding the time to blog has grown more and more challenging and I hope the quality and depth of many of my posts has grown over the years as well.

The last two years in particular have been a personal frustration as I have attempted to grow more “present” with my family and community while dealing with the tremendous workload presented in my “real” job that has meant longer hours, later hours, and technical challenges that have conspired to keep my technical processing brain-core on overdrive.

All that said, the biggest problem I had, however, hasn’t been a lack of inspiration, or of time, or of material.

I seriously believe it was the lack of a good desk and by extension, a good workspace.

See, from 2006-2009 a good part of my primary blogging hardware was based on desktop computers at home. First an old Gateway and later a small-form-factor barebones home-build kit.  Both these systems were kept in a nice desk that was located in our library/laundry room.  So I could hole up in the space, have few interruptions, and focus on writing, and blogging, and blogging. Lots of productivity.

In 2006 Lavie bought our first laptop. Then in 2007 Lavie won a Gateway laptop and it became her new laptop and the first one became a backup family pc.  Then in 2009 Lavie  picked up a larger laptop for herself and I took over the Gateway laptop as a secondary system while Alvis took over Lavie’s first one. Though I continued to patch and upgrade the SFF desktop pc I used, the Gateway laptop really became my primary home computing device and blogging platform. And in late 2010 I finally obtained my own "dream" notebook.

I sincerely believe the shift from using a desktop pc (at a desk) to a laptop (wherever) is what led to the biggest hit on my blogging production.

When I sit at a desk I have a productive mindset. When I’m in one of the chairs or couch in our living room I can blog, but it doesn’t feel as natural as just “couch-surfing” the web. I find it hard to build and maintain a writing rhythm if I’m anywhere but in front of a desk.

Since the girls REALLY wanted me to me more present with them and not hidden off in our library area, and I had a laptop, it was very seldom that I found myself in our study and my desk--and in a productive blogging mindset.

I’ve been trying to find a solution to the problem for some time. Unfortunately, the desk in the library while not large, just didn’t seem to lend itself to either our living room décor or function. So I’ve just coped, and the blogging rate has suffered.

vco4im4v.wovLast week I found a cheap trestle-style mini-desk that was perfect in color, style and size for the living room. With minimal rearrangement I was able to place it in the living room along with a nice matching traditional wooden chair with a faux-leather seat cushion. It was a great pairing.  While not my favorite in terms of style, it was a perfect pairing of form and function (and price) so I struck while the iron was still hot.

That weekend saw the slew of postings which has almost brought to half-as-many as all I did last year.

Now I have my own elegant and relaxing workspace again to use my laptop at; but still be “present” with Lavie and Alvis after work or on the weekends.

Now the story should end there.

However this weekend Alvis and I finally swapped got around to swapping our desks. These are not to be confused with the new one above.

See, Alvis has been using a large French-country style desk in her room for her homework/TV/laptop/crafting needs.  It is a beautiful desk that has an attached shelving unit over it. Meanwhile my desk (the one in the library I have mentioned already) is an Ikea special with a simple solid wood frame, a side-caddy for a desktop PC and a small pullout drawer that held all those misc. USB cables and PC hardware bits that accumulate.

Alvis in her artsy/interior-design-y mode decided she needed to “open up” the space in her room and swap desks. This way she has more physical room (since mine is smaller) and gain a desk that is more work-bench-like for her crafting. It will also work better for her new machine-sewing hobby and crafting system.

So yesterday we set to work clearing off our desks and emptying them of their contents. Lots of cables to re-manage, lots of missed-dust to remediate. And the desks were swapped.

Alvis’s (new-to-her) desk fit perfectly and holds a small LCD TV that doubles as a second monitor for her laptop. The solid wood surface is more firm for crafting and the lack of a overhead shelving system means she can now feed large lengths of fabric easily across the surface. She did add a small wire-baking-rack to the side of it for storing supplies. Now she has space galore in her room reclaimed.

My (new-to-me) desk is in the study. My second LCD monitor is tucked in a corner when I do decide to work back there and need a second monitor. (I decided it just didn’t fit the living room décor or small desk added there.) It has a USB keyboard/mouse combo as well on the slide-out tray just in case. The (now long-since disconnected until I eventually get around to using it as a SAN server option-1 option-2) SFF PC is tucked away in the side-caddy. The real plus has been getting all my technical books and manuals off the stacks in the library floor and nicely organized in the over-desk shelves. I’ve also got my network hardware (switches/routers) and external hard-drives nicely sitting in their “cubbies” as well. It looks downright nice.

Funny how these things work out…I finally find the perfect desk to get me out of the library, get crazy-productive again (and make both my girls and me harmoniously happy). And the very next weekend I end up creating the super organized and comfy writing-desk/computing-workbench in the man-cave library.

I guess that’s just how we roll around here.

So long-story-short, it’s neither a matter of here or there. Simply expect more blogging this year from the GSD ranch.

--Claus V.

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