Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Oristand Standing Desk

Sitting is the bane of my professional life. I sit all day at work, then come home to sit while I write at night. It adds up to a lot of sitting every day. All that sitting is a health risk, and sometimes it's simply physically uncomfortable. I decided a while ago that a standing desk was the obvious answer, but they're expensive. 

When I read about the Oristand on LinkedIn ("The Everyday Habit That's Killing You: Here's a $25 Fix"), I realized I'm not the only one on a budget who's tired of sitting. Instead of having to buy a whole new (and did I mention expensive?) desk, the Oristand is a collapsible cardboard stand that sits on top of your desk (or in my case, on top of my dining room table). Brilliant.

At $25, this was a price point I could afford, plus I loved its portability since I work at different places around my house. I scanned their website and wondered, “Can I use it with just my laptop, no wireless keyboard?” I suspected the answer was no, but I wasn't certain. I went ahead and ordered the Oristand anyway, figuring I'd sort it all out later.
Does this work on your Oristand? For me, nope.

When it arrived, I was thrilled to find it was easy to assemble and store, plus its sturdy cardboard is at least as durable as many assemble-yourself pieces of furniture I've owned. It folds into a step-shaped configuration that can hold a computer and withstands being leaned upon without bowing.

As far as to whether or not you can use it without a secondary keyboard, the answer is no, at least not for me. I tried it and it was a terrible fit in terms of my neck being at an odd angle and my wrists and shoulders in a bad position, no matter which little ledge I put it on. On the other hand, for my teenaged son (a person who regularly contorts himself into the oddest positions while using a computer), the lack of a secondary keyboard was no problem.
Who needs ergonomics when you're 18? Yeah, not my kid.

I immediately went on Amazon and ordered a wireless keyboard--but neglected to thoroughly check the dimensions and wound up with a teeny-tiny keyboard that is far too small for my fingers. Actually, it's far too small for anyone over five, but it's adorable. We decided it would be perfect as the living room TV keyboard. Also, it was hard not to say “awwww” when holding it.

I went back to Amazon, armed with a tape measure and the Oristand. I wanted enough room for a keyboard and a mouse. Voila, I checked the dimensions of several keyboards and found one that was 15 inches wide. Or so I thought.

“Mom, that's the dimensions of the box,” my kid told me (complete with eye rolling), after I ordered it. Great. And I thought shopping online would save me time! At that point, I'd been itching to take the Oristand on a full test drive, but without a workable secondary keyboard, there was no way I could evaluate it. When the keyboard arrived, I found I'd still gotten the dimensions wrong. It's about 11” wide, but fits the space perfectly and leaves plenty of room for the mouse.

I used the new setup to write most of this post, and am incredibly pleased with the functionality. 

Aside from the obvious health concerns associated with sitting too much, I like having the option to stand while I write. I tend to write and ponder and wander around, and standing for part of the time is definitely preferable for me. 

The design of the Oristand lends itself to leaning your elbows on the lower ledge while resting your chin in your hands to look at the computer screen, which is probably seriously ergonomically incorrect, but at least I'm not sitting.

I think the Oristand is going to work really well, especially for the big project I just started working on. I've been excited about the project, but was dreading the additional hours spent sitting.

I like the design and wish I'd been more attentive to the need for a keyboard so I wouldn't have had to wait the whole week to give it a true test.

The real result, of course, will be how I feel (and how the stand endures) after the next couple of months, when I expect to log a lot of hours on it. Also, my wood-worker hubby is determined to make a wooden version, which I insist will be too heavy (he disagrees). Stay tuned for updates.  


Do you like to stand or sit while writing? Some well-known authors liked to stand while writing--Hemingway, for instance.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Summer and Other Writing Prompts

It’s almost time for the traditional start of summer, Memorial Day. The Summer Solstice in June may mark the official arrival of the season, but as far as most of us are concerned, the last weekend in May is the start of BBQing and swimming. Think of long, sunny, warm days and see if you can come up with a story from one of the prompts below.
  • It wasn't Memorial Day yet, but the heat.... 
  • The last thing she remembered was saying, "Isn't it time to get in the pool!" before....
  • What's your favorite summertime memory?
  • Did you go on summer vacations as a child? To Where?

My summer vacations as a child were road trips to Texas. How about you?
Photo courtesy of Holly Salzman at flickr

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Typewriter & Other Writing Prompts

Typed up on my trusty Sharp typewriter. I've got an even older Brother in the garage. Sure wish I had an old IBM Selectric!

Fun But Fake -- Internet Memes and Quotes

I found my old typewriter in my office closet the other day, and the first thing I thought was, “Memes!” followed by “Etsy!”

Although I’ve been writing for most of my life, I officially became a freelance writer just as this wacky Internet thing took off.  

There are things I miss about the pre-Internet days. Longer attention spans. Letters in the mail.

But I have to admit that I love ebooks. And social media. And the profusion of all those chipper and funny and inspiring sayings that I’ve plastered all over my Pinterest page.

Here’s the thing about all those pithy sayings: a lot of them are fake.

At one time, I diligently checked every quote I came across in social media, and then I realized I didn’t have enough time for that. It’s entertainment, not a research paper. And problems with misattributions have been going on for quite some time—since before the Internet.

With all that said, I’m still thinking of unearthing my Bartlett’s and whipping up something creative. #GenuineQuotes #QuotesForReal 

Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Feather on the Wall and Other Writing Prompts

In our first prompt today, we have an odd accessory pinned to the wall. What room do you think they’re in—whoever “they” turn out to be? Grab a pen (quill optional) and see what kind of story you can weave from one of the prompts below. 

  • “Why is that feather pinned on the wall?” asked….
  • What’s your favorite kind of bird?
  • Jane was shocked when she heard the parrot say….
  • An ostrich wanders into your backyard. What happens next?

Personally, I think ostriches are scary.

Comments and stories welcome below!

Photo courtesy of Marie Hale at flickr

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

A Shaky Situation and Other Writing Prompts

What is that person standing on in the first prompt, and why is it a bad idea to stand on it? If you don’t get any sparks from that prompt, keep reading until you find something that inspires you. 

  • “I wouldn’t stand on that,” she said, right before ….
  • A lot of people thought it was a mistake when I….
  • Linda realized that she’d turned the wrong way when…
  • What do you think of the idea that nothing’s a mistake if you learn a lesson from it?

Common writing advice is to “start with the day that’s different,” and the day something goes wrong is always “different,” isn’t it? Comments (or good stories) welcome below!

Picture courtesy of Newsome Antiques on flickr

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thoughts of Summer and Other Writing Prompts

Pick one of the prompts below and cook up (or would that be "barbecue"?) a story about summer. 

  • Summer makes me think of....
  • Ellen said, "Camping always sounds like a good idea until...."
  • Define "summer beach read." 
  • What was summer vacation like when you were a kid?
Photo courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis at flickr

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Book Collection and Other Writing Prompts

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." ~Stephen King 

Where is “she” in prompt number one: a massive library, or in a room with just a few books? And who’s she talking to: an adult or a child? All the details are up to you if you tackle prompt #1, but you can also browse the other prompts. Try them all, if you’re feeling bibliophilic.

1. "How many books do you own?" she asked...
2. Describe three books that have influenced you greatly.
3. "I found your little black book," said...
4. Combine a book, a loaf of bread, and a cactus in a story or poem.

Pick a prompt and get to work! Leave a comment to tell me about the results.

Photo courtesy of Tom Mascardo at flickr