I’m not a pack rat by nature. I don’t often keep items “just in case;” I’m more likely to trash them, even if I may regret it later.
There’s a notable exception to this minimalist streak, though: technology packaging. In our shed, I have the original boxes for nearly every tech device we own: two laptops, two iPads, two Kindles, AirPods, two Magic Keyboards, an Apple Pencil, and more. My rule of thumb? “Keep the box if there’s any chance you’ll resell this someday.”
That strategy may not be logical. Sure, buyers sometimes pay more for a device in its original box. Oddly, however, many reseller sites don’t actually care whether you have the original packaging; they’ll pay the same amount, either way.
Still, I’ll keep squirreling away the boxes, regardless of the financial return. There’s an intangible benefit: the mild satisfaction of sealing an iPhone in its original cardboard coffin. I feel like I’ve fulfilled my duty, stewarding my device from its shrink-wrapped birth to its day of departure. ◾
As we’re reminded each spring and fall, time changes are disorienting and disruptive. But the renewed movement to make Daylight Saving Time permanent is misguided—maybe even dangerous.
Yes, DST might get us home before sunset in the winter. At what cost, though? The mornings would be brutal. If Standard Time were eliminated, dawn would come ridiculously late to many North American cities:
|City||December 21 sunrise time if DST were permanent|
|Washington, D.C.||8:23 AM|
Few of us enjoy waking before dawn. Imagine if your morning commute and arrival at work happened in the dark, too.
That’s not just an annoyance; it could have serious public health implications. Human circadian clocks thrive when we’re exposed to early-morning sunlight—that’s why light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder is often administered immediately after waking.
What would happen if the entire continental population got dramatically less morning sun? The public health impact might be epidemic. ◾
Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space epic seems custom-tailored for me. I’m a sucker for its core elements: parental conflict (and resolution. Space exploration). Mind-bending science. Terrific music.
Interstellar also serves up some controversial ideas about Love. Some reviewers faulted the movie for these threads, which they thought clashed with the “hard” science fiction backdrop.
Not me; I liked Interstellar’s peculiar hybrid of themes. The film asks questions that have haunted me for years: “Is there anything beyond the material world?” “Is there an objective reason to value self-sacrificial love?” “Is there another, truer story, beside ‘Nature, red in tooth and claw’?”
Interstellar is unequivocal, weaving its answer (“Yes!”) with amazing production values and a heart-wrenching story. What’s not to love? ◾
Steven Kurutz, writing in the New York Times:
Working from home may sound relaxing, but the “working” part of that phrase underscores the expectations that accompany it: being available to check and respond to email, hop on a conference call and generally be productive, even if you feel lousy.
Last week, a colleague caught a nasty bug. It wasn’t hard to tell he was sick; we may live and work five states apart, but conference calls have a way of exposing congestion and coughs. His symptoms grew more severe, hour after hour, and it became clear that he should close his laptop, brew some tea, and crawl into bed.
Even in the most accommodating remote work environments, telecommuters may hesitate to call in sick. Consider the unique factors at play:
- Online meetings are hard to cancel. After all, I can’t just pop my head over the cubicle wall the next day and get caught up. So instead of allowing the flu to wreck my agenda, I’m more likely to suck it up and just dial in. That avoids the nightmare of finding another time slot that’s open on everyone’s calendar.
- Workers who commute to a traditional office sometimes call in sick solely out of courtesy—i.e., not because they feel particularly ill but rather to avoid infecting their colleagues. There’s no such social more at work for the remote worker; rhinovirus can’t be transmitted through Skype.
- Even when my symptoms are miserable, working from home makes it easier to slog through and save those precious PTO hours. With a few simple adjustments, I can dial back the energy required to endure the workday. For example, just stepping off the treadmill desk eases the effort level. When you’re curled up on the couch, triaging email feels far less draining. ◾
I’ve owned a treadmill desk for over five years now. Those shuffling strides add up; I crossed the 10,000-mile mark earlier this year, and I lost forty-five pounds during my first year of treading.
Treadmill desk downsides
But the treadmill lifestyle has its challenges, as well. For example, my particular LifeSpan model requires a lot more maintenance than I expected. The repairman has visited at least five times, and I’m on my third motor since the purchase.
Another challenge: the treadmill desk takes up a lot of space. Legit treadmills are too heavy to store vertically; wherever you place it, there it will stay. And, up till now, my jury-rigged IKEA Galant desk made things worse; the table sits on chunky wooden crates, leaving little room for much else. We can squeeze an air mattress beside the desk, but forget about fitting in a bedside table, a lamp, or even a guest’s suitcase. It’s that tight.
Fixing it with furniture
So, in an effort to make the room more hospitable, I recently bought a small Jarvis standing desk; it arrives this Friday. If my measurements are right, the Jarvis will perfectly straddle the treadmill, freeing up something like twelve square feet of floor space.1
That might not sound like much, but in a room that’s less than 100 square feet total, it should make a significant difference. Hopefully, our air mattress—or (dare I dream?) a futon—will fit more easily, and guests won’t feel like they’re being crowded out by a monstrous Megadesk.
- While I’m gaining floor space, I’m sacrificing desk space with the smaller, 30” x 27” Jarvis tabletop. I use three 24” external monitors and may need to reconfigure the mounts to suit. Hopefully I’m not solving one problem by creating another! ↩︎