“Hhhmmmmmmhmmmm” —Five-times-enlightened Buddhist monk
Hunched over nearly bent in two in only a way a triathletic trainer would deem proper, traversing à vélo the altitudinally anfractuous back roads of the western Main Line on a sticky Saturday July evening, I was reminded by a steadily-growing-from-dull-to-sharp full-body ache that worked its way into my promenade du soir how negligent I’ve been in providing an update to my in-surely-some-small-circle-celebrated no-holds-barred reviews of the Herman Miller Embody chair and Jarvis bamboo standing desk. (Ardent readers of this weblog will know said exposés can be found here.)
I will first say a few words about the chair, then the desk.
A comprehensive link list is located below.
Death of a Chair, Man (by H. Miller)
The Embody is no more. It’s gone. Relinquished its ghost. Requiescat in pace. Arrivederci. Or, well, it is now under the ownership of a nice, punctual, honest twenty-something I connected with through Craigslist named Liard. (“Liard, Liard, pants on Fiard?”) Emanating from the swamps of North Jersey, my counterparty, with the help of gravity, sped down the turnpike to meet me in indigenous habitat, southeastern Pennsylvania, and pick up my, for me, overly-exorbitant ergonomic death trap.
I mentioned before how the source of my discomfort with the chair was my sciatic nerve (specifically, down my left buttock and leg) being pinched from the rope-hammock-like soft-plastic-web framework that makes up the Embody seat, and I now realize that the likely root of this discomfort has been inflammation (namely digestive but years of playing scrappy ball-retrieving- I-will-run-down-everything-to-beat-you-style tennis certainly have not been conducive to the wellbeing of my lower lumbar either) and I’ve taken action to try and reduce that. For those that are curious, I’ve been very much focused on defecation rate. (There’s an untaken name for any nascent grindcore ensembles.) I’ve suffered from intermittent acute constipation and likely chronically retarded fecal elimination all my life. Some days I feel better than others. It can be a struggle. I’m working on it.
Expendable exposed itself as another “E” word to describe the Embody after computing from a totally average four-legged wooden stool for a couple of days and feeling no worse; in fact, I was able to tolerate sitting for longer periods of time. My sense was that the lack of back support was forcing my spine into a more natural yin–yang alignment where synchronistically whatever pelvic and back muscles muscles were also being strengthened. Retrospectively, I think that is still the case now somewhat. My sciatic neuritis continues to flare up but my back feels pretty solid. I seem to remember the latter afflicting me more previously.
Though the wooden stool was an improvement over the Embody — temporarily, at least — it was not an ideal solution. Wood is a dense material and it wears quickly on my not-even-old seat bones. I’m unable to sit on wood for any significant period of time. (?.) I need cushioning. Also, most wooden stools stand at a fixed height; the one I used perched me slightly higher than would meet the Goldilocks standard. Adjustability is a must.
To summarize, here’s what I was now looking for:
With that came this: the On-Stage KT7800.
Alright — so this appliance is marketed toward musical keyboardists. Truthfully, is pecking away at a computer keyboard all that different? Think about it. (Think.) No! They are similar tasks.
The towel underneath is to help reduce squeaking sounds from the plastic end-fittings making boisterous acquaintance with the hardwood floor as I shift my weight. It’s a simple but effective fix. If I were to be using the bench on carpet, the towel would be unnecessary. I live in a mostly-empty too-many-cubic-feet-but-I-like-the-location apartment that has a tendency to echo any non-zero measure of decibels and the sound dampener became demanding of itself.
As keen readers will notice in the first photo above, the bench is positioned longways (hot-dog style for our American-barbecue-inspired elementary school paper-folder readers). I straddle the bench with my legs opened up like a “V” (like I’m riding horse — “yeehaw”) and I can thus disperse pressure onto my inner thighs if I lean forward slightly. Sometimes I’ll sit on my knees for a short period of time. Or on one knee and stand on one leg. Or not sit but lay supine and stretch. The bench allows a surprising amount of variation with creativity in mind.
For ~$50, I think the KT7800 is an option worth exploring for anyone with lower back or sciatic nerve issues. The initiated reader will be well aware of how thought-narrowing and pickpocketing putting one’s back into the field of chiropracty can be. At minimum, this can be used in rotation between a more traditional chair to vary seating positions throughout the workday. There are likely better benches out there and those reading are absolutely invited to contribute to the investigative efforts.
I would still like to pick up a Steelcase Leap (and I say “pick up” with nonchalance to at least feel as if I’ve got that kind of paper money to toss into a fervent wind) but for now once sitting on the bench becomes unbearable I will tote my laptop over to my bed which I treat as a pseudo-work couch — please, psychoanalyze this paradox of furniturial utility — or I will trek on over to a local coffee shop and buzz for a few hours.
I Can Stand It
Eighteen months later, here she still is. I’ve stuck with the Jarvis bamboo standing desk. I don’t love it though its flaws have receded from my perception somewhat. I seem to raise and lower it less and less often. I sit most of the time. I’ve found that I am ineffectual standing in place attempting critical thought and do better by disengaging for a walk, be it an aimless wander around my apartment or outside.
The lip of the table is the only aspect that actively bothers me at this point. It’s just not pleasant to touch, and I brush against it often.
To conclude — for posterity and for fans of I Spy and/or Where’s Waldo?, which, by the way, I just learned is called Where’s Wally? in the United Kingdom, and yeah, that hit me with the similar gut-stirring disconcertion I’m sure those living in parallel universe hyperCONDOR™ v2.1 alpha felt as it merged with core existence in the year 2015 A.D. and the Berenstain with an “A” Bears corrective artifact was exposed — here is a list of specific objects and doodads caught in the amber of the photographs and that I either very much like or tolerate so much that they are employed for quotidian usage and can be found online.
Chair & Chair Items
- Chair: On-Stage KT7800 Stand with Padded Keyboard Bench
- Soundproofing Towel: Lasting Color Bath Towel in Tomato
Desk & Desk Items
- Desk: Jarvis Bamboo Adjustable Standing Desk (48 × 30″, Black Frame, Extended Range, Programmable Memory Handset)
- Laptop: MacBook Pro (Refurbished — Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014 — 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5)
- Laptop Stand: Pyle Pro PLPTS25
- Keyboard: Apple Magic Keyboard
- Trackpad: Apple Magic Trackpad 2
- Pen Body: Pilot G2
- Pen Ink: uni-ball 207 0.7mm
- Book: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- EMF Meter: Trifield 100XE
- Hot Pad: Ritz Royale Pocket Mitt in Graphite
- Light Fixture: Woods 0167
- Light Bulb: Bulbrite 250BR40H
- Power Strip: Belkin SurgeMaster
- Router: Netgear Nighthawk R7000
- Moving Blanket: US Cargo Control in Camouflage
- Plant: Ikea Dracaena Massangeana