The Things You Learn in Bars

I’ve been looking for a standing desk. There are a lot of benefits to working while standing, mostly due to the fact that you are not sitting. I’m a pacer anyway and I have to get up and move around when writing or typing or net-surfing so a stand-up desk seemed like the thing for me. Unfortunately they can be expensive. I thought about taking an existing table and mounting it on some crates or cinder blocks, the classic college kid furniture solution, but couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for the idea. About a week ago I had a flash of insight, one of those moments when the problem is instantly clarified in your mind, and the answer becomes obvious. It’s funny how sometimes you just need to ask a better question to get the right result. Instead of “where can I get a reasonably priced standing desk?” I asked “where do people do a lot of standing around by high tables?”. In bars, of course. Lots of pubs, bars, and lounges have tall tables that you stand at or sit on stools or long-legged chairs next to while sipping drinks and quaffing pints. It’s standard fare for those places. I’m not sure why, maybe bar patrons get drunker and stupider if they sit restaurant-style at conventional dining tables. Maybe the weird geometry makes customers thirstier. I don’t know. I do know that I spend enough time at my local pub that the high table is part of my social DNA. Soon after my burst of brilliance I got on Amazon, that mega-corp shopping site with tentacles everywhere, and searched for bar tables. I found a 42-inch high wooden table with a 36-inch square top for $125 bucks. Here it is:

table 4

Those are my brewing supplies underneath and to the right. Storage space is always at a premium. I don’t think this is the final configuration but it’s good enough to get started. I can put my laptop on there as well when I need to process words. When I stand with my elbows bent at ninety degrees (forearms parallel to the floor) they are about 44 inches high. I can lean comfortably forward and put my weight on the table top, or better yet, relax in a tai chi horse stance in front of either open side and my arms are at the right height for writing or typing. The top being a full yard square gives me lots of room:

table 3

This is in the small back room in my cottage which I have converted into my writing den. It doubles as my brewery, of course, that’s not going to change. My library in the main house with my desktop computer and wireless router and everything is too close to the kitchen and too distracting of an environment for me to focus and get my projects finished. Plus my lovely bride is used to me being out of her hair during the work week and now that I’m retired and home all the time I need to give her back the space she is used to. The cottage, which I’ve dubbed The House of Mark (or sometimes La Casita), will be my getaway. I’ve got a large room in there where I can do my workouts and I also have a conventional office chair and and standard size table when I need to sit and work. It was funny—I assembled the table in the big room and Sue came in to look at it and said “you sure it will fit through the hallway into the back?” Sure enough, she nailed it. There was no way to get the thing through the narrow doorways and past the refrigerator in the tiny connecting room. So, I took the legs off and re-assembled it in the back! The legs and top shipped in separate boxes and they gave you eight bolts with washers and nuts to secure them together. The bolts needed a 4 mm Allen wrench, which was in the kit, but the cheap brass heads wore down quickly and I thought I’d never get the the damn thing back together. Fortunately I had two stout wrenches in my bicycle gear that gave me more leverage and I found that a T25 torx head on my electric screwdriver could do much of the work as well.

Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, will soon be upon us. I hope all of you enjoy safe travels and good times!


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