My newest preciousssss.

During the past few months, this blog has read like a chronicle of broken machinery. Fortunately, most of it was easy to repair, a matter of getting in the appropriate devil-may-care mood and shoving in new parts or cackling madly while waving around a soldering iron.

Then came the most recent issue, the death of my beloved 17” Macbook Pro. After seven years, a chronically busted 4 key, a logic board replacement, and several RAM and hard drive upgrades, it embarked on an ugly series of hardware problems. One night the end came in a technicolor crescendo of crashes and screens of death.

“Oooh! Can I look at it?” my husband squealed happily. “Sure,” I said, having backed up all of the data on the machine a couple of other places. (Not that the drive was likely to be impacted.) He caressed the sickly machine, cooed to it, and began pressing keys. It faded into eternal blackness while in his arms.

“Hey, you finally killed it!” he crowed, ignoring the fact that technically it had died while he was touching it, not me. “Well, you’ll just have to march down to the Apple Store and get a new one. You can even have some coffee while you wait.” (Our closest Apple Store is at the spaceship campus’s visitor’s center. They have coffee there as well as high dollar nutrition bars with frightening names. I still haven’t had the guts to find out what a Manuka is.)

 

Happy happy consumers fingering I-devices.

The barrista drew a panda head on my coffee. Despite that, I was bitter. It isn’t often a machine bests me. I’d known that the computer was near the end of its life but I’d hoped that could be delayed a bit and handled on a non-emergency basis.

As I thought about the price of the new machine, I could hear my father’s voice ringing in my ears. He eternally had contempt for my using Macs, which he always seemed to regard as a personal failing. “Just think of all the Amiga 500s you could have bought instead!” I could hear him rant.

 

 

However, once I hooked the new computer up, I liked it a lot. The 5k display was large and gorgeous, and it was able to tackle 3D and graphics tasks a jillion times faster than before.

Alas, in short order I’d made the workspace a mess again.  I hate to draw comparisons that would make a pig feel bad but yes, when I’m working I tend to toss things around and wallow in them.

I briefly considered hauling everything non-electronic out to driveway and throwing a can of gasoline and a lit match on it. However, that seemed like a waste of good fossil fuel. Perhaps what I needed was a computer stand.

I stumbled across a review for Understands, a series of wood computer stands. They were elegantly designed and showed a great affection for wood. Some were one-of-a-kind designs, highlighting the unique characteristics of a particular piece of wood. Others featured dovetail joints, drawers, and access slots for cables. They were beautiful and quite a bit nicer than anything I could make myself. I also liked the company’s story, using urban reclaimed wood to create things of beauty and practicality.

I ordered one, the Planet 6 Walnut. Yes, I could have stacked my computer up on some of the thousands of books I have in the house or even employed the concrete brick I removed from the bottom of my washing machine last month. However, I believe there’s value in investing in the things I use and touch each day.

 

The new stand arrived a week later and promptly was inspected by the house wolf/Siberian Tube Dog. He tried to tell me what the UPS driver had eaten for breakfast and report on conditions in the shop in Rockford, Illinois, where the stand was created. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to understand.

 

 

Nice packaging.

 

Oh, beautiful. Look at that grain. Look at those dovetails.

 

Cork-lined drawers. Sweet.

 

The back of the stand has a slot for the base of one’s iMac or iMac Pro, so that the base will disappear into the top of the stand. It also has slots for cables, so that peripherals can be tucked away yet remain plugged in.

 

What’s this? A little surprise in one of the drawers? That’s a thoughtful touch.

 

The “surprise” proved to be a sliding dovetail box embellished with a laser cut heart. The tolerances of the dovetail are so tight, so snug, that one almost can’t find the slide unless one inspects the box with a magnifying glass.

 

The story behind the box. I like that and I’m glad they included it. Everything around us has a story, whether it’s about the people who designed and created it or where its source materials grew and were harvested.

In the case of the box and the computer stand, part of the story is about gorgeous wood, which otherwise might have gone to waste, being reclaimed and used to create items of practicality and beauty.

 

The new computer mounted on the computer stand.

Today’s celebrity monitor appearance is Anthony Kiedis. Hi, Mr. Kiedis. Thank you for visiting my studio, not that you had any choice in the matter.

 

And yep, I’m glad I ordered the stand with six drawers. In the top drawers there’s room for my external drive, backup drive, a track pad, and a remote control I’m hiding from my family. Thanks to the cable slots in the back of drawers and the fact that I’m running drives which don’t generate much heat, I can leave them plugged in while they’re tucked away in the drawers. (I wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing that with a “spinning rust” drive.)

 

The bottom drawers are large enough to hold a numeric keypad, Wacom tablet, and a three button mouse. These are items I like close at hand but don’t use every day. The numeric keypad and the mouse are primarily used with Blender, where I flail away with both hands while working.

 

The top right and left drawers have secret compartments for things one would like to keep hidden away. Not that I have any anything like that, heh heh heh. At least, not anything I’ll admit to.

 

A peek behind the computer. There’s room for cable and headphone storage. The wood artist’s manikin is holding earplugs. Yeah. About those. I have earplugs in my purse, in my nightstand, and all over the rest of the house. You see, a few years ago we adopted a terrier from one of the neighbors. The neighbor was going through some changes in her life and our other dog – the package inspector at the top of this blog entry – adored the terrier.

The terrier is a sweet dog and is usually fairly calm. Unfortunately, he can spin up wilder than an F-5 tornado, with yapping so sharp I want to jam an ice pick through my ears. He makes sounds that no living creature should be able to generate, noises which make me think that whoever engineered terriers was deranged. If they weren’t crazy before breeding the dogs, they would have been in short order after hearing the yapping. It drives me nuts. I also don’t think the dog can help it. Efforts to train him out of it have been unsuccessful. So yeah, when he starts to get excited before a walk or whatever, out come the earplugs.

 

Cables and flotsam behind the other side of the computer. There’s a little story behind those earrings. I keep remembrances of people around my work space, things that probably look like pieces of junk to other people but have meaning to me.

Years ago, I had a T-shirt that matched those earrings, with a large version of those creatures screen printed on the front. Burt Richter – yes, the same Burt Richter who won the Nobel Prize for  co-discovery of the J/ψ meson – referred to the creature as my “radioactive kitty cat”. I never thought to ask him whether that description was inspired by the feral cats at SLAC who had, alas, found their ways into places that weren’t healthy for them.

Richter passed away recently but his vision and his work persist. The earrings are a reminder of that, even though they’re a tad silly.

 

Much better. The computer stand has done wonders as far as cleaning up that part of the room. I really admire the design and workmanship of the Understands computer stands. Mine is worth every penny I paid for it.

Leave a Reply