My standing desk setup

It was Nomadic Furniture that first got me interested, almost a decade ago, in the idea of working standing up. I’ve tried several times, since then, to pick up the habit, but only over the past six months, or so, have I finally made it stick.

I built these two work tables from old card table legs, hollow-core doors, and extra-short molly bolts soon after moving into my current home, and published a Make: Project about it right after they were done. In spite of naysayers who believed hollow-core doors were too flimsy for this purpose, both tables have held up great, and are still going strong.

When, eight months ago, I was inspired by Mark Frauenfelder’s standing desk experiments to try it again, myself, I didn’t want to spend a lot on new furniture, or make any irreversible changes to my hollow-core door tables (which I am still quite fond of) in case it didn’t take. I had four of these cement “Dek Blocks” on hand for another project, and I decided to try simply setting one under each table leg, which had the effect of raising the work surface by about 6″, to 35″. This proved to be a very comfortable working height for me. Getting the monitor up to eye level on a wall-mounted shelf was also a critical change.

I have also found, per Benjamin Palmer’s suggestions as quoted in Mark’s follow-on post, that a barroom-style footrest or -rail is helpful for long term comfort, and the Dek Blocks also, by happy accident, provide a convenient means for adding one, as shown: Just slot a 2×6 (or other 2x nominal-dimension lumber) into the promolded slots in the front pair of Dek Blocks. Between the grooves in the blocks and the table legs themselves, gravity alone is sufficient to secure a footrail, which can simply be lifted away as necessary, e.g. for cleaning or maintenance access.

I now comfortably work from a standing position about eight hours a day, five days a week, and find it noticeably improves my attention span, energy level, mood, and overall health. There was some discomfort during the adjustment period, but, being a bit older and wiser this time, I didn’t try to just throw out my chairs and go from sitting all day to standing all day all at once. Rather, I worked up to it, starting out at just two hours in the morning, then going all morning until lunch (for awhile), and from there to standing up, all day, from 8AM to 5PM, except during my lunch hour. Done piecemeal like this, the transition was not uncomfortable at all.

Laser-cut Escher lizards

Back in 2008, I posted vector art for an hexagonally-tessellating lizard tile closely based on M.C. Escher’s famous design. Last week, my pal Angus Hines laser-cut a bunch in fluorescent acrylic. Each is about 3″ across. I just cross-posted the vector art on Thingiverse.

Using a kitchen canister as a small trashcan

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with a small party. There was a buffet, and we needed a wee tabletop trash can for grape stems, toothpicks, used napkins, marijuana seeds olive pits, and so forth. This was my handy-dandy improvisation: pop the acrylic top out of the lid (they’re just press-fit on the cheap canisters), pop in a plastic grocery bag, cuff it over, replace the canister rim, and, just for looks, cut around the bottom of the rim to remove excess plastic.

Custom YHJBP whiskey tumblers

This was a special order from an Etsy customer who had seen my “Prisoner” pint glasses. The tumblers are a set of two 15-ouncers, manufactured by Riedel. I’m quite pleased with how they turned out.

Bill Hicks “I don’t do drugs” 6-way message pen concept

I made this animated GIF for a forthcoming MAKE post about personalizing these rotating “message” promotional pens to make super-cheap, memorable, functional gifts for friends. But then I stopped short of actually using it, (at least with this particular set of messages) because I don’t want to have to fend off a bunch of enraged comments about a “pro-drug” message.

In point of fact, I like this classic stand-up line from comedy God Bill Hicks not so much because I am particularly drug-addled, nor even because I think it’s such a great knee-slapper, but rather because I admire its rhetorical craftsmanship. Properly delivered, it manages a complete semantic one-eighty in the course of twelve words—eight if you allow for the fact that the first four, “I don’t do drugs,” really just establish the starting point.

It’s one of those jokes that almost has to be spoken, to be effective. Even the most artful and creative punctuation fails to capture the effect in written words, because the speed at which most people read gives little time for anyone to be surprised between the first of those dozen words and the last.

But the 6-way message pen with its time-delayed, line-by-line scrolling marquee, opens up a new dimension not available in straight prose, and can make the joke work again, IMHO. And it was too good an opportunity to pass up.