All the stuff on my desk, 2020 edition

I did this back in 2013, so maybe it’s time for an update.

  • An Anthro desk, 60-inch wide, “fog” color. Anthro no longer exists, so I’m not sure if they still make them.
  • 2020 MacBook Pro 16-inch (the last Intel one).
  • Lenovo Thinkpad – I don’t remember the number, but about two years old (work machine).
  • A KVM switch, all the assorted dongles, and the Lenovo’s docking station, hidden half-under the desk, but sticking half-out because I’ve given up on cable management.
  • Regular-vision glasses (I wear a different pair for the computer.)
  • Sony MDR-7506 headphones, but with the foam pads replaced with new perforated fake-leather ones. Great daily monitor-type headphones, but the pads disintegrate within a year.
  • iPhone 11 Pro, in a battery case.
  • Lightning-to-Thunderbolt cable.
  • Lightning-to-USB B cable.
  • 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch headphone adapter.
  • Glasses case.
  •  USB 3 hub.
  • Vanatoo Transparent Zero monitors.
  • iPad pro (the first generation, the smaller size). It’s in a wire stand meant for recipe books that I got for four bucks instead of paying $75 for some sculpted aluminum thing.
  • A couple of bottles of vitamins.
  • Kinesis Advantage keyboard.
  • Two different Western Digital external backup drives (4TB?), and an external enclosure with an SSD (512 GB) full of different Windows VMs.
  • A cheap TENS machine that’s currently plugged into my lower right back.
  • A Kensington trackball.
  • An Ergotron monitor arm.
  • A crappy ViewSonic monitor, maybe 24-inch 1080p.
  • A Manta TR-1 IR remote receiver.
  • A Logitech C920 webcam.
  • An Apple Pencil, probably with a dead battery.
  • A couple of Japanese erasable pens (blue, red. Frixion Ball. Pilot makes a version in the US that’s garbage, the wrong shape.)
  • A bunch of post-it notes.
  • A bill for my license plates.
  • A cheap Chinese LCD clock.
  • A fingertip pulseox monitor.
  • A three-toggle switch replica of the SCE switch in an Apollo command module.
  • One of those stupid hand grip exercise things.
  • Proventil inhaler.
  • Wire pen/pencil basket, filled with various pens and pencils I almost never use, plus at least two Strat whammy bars. I also see a Palm Pilot stylus in there, to give you an idea of how often I clean it out.
  • Two different travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • A keyboard brush thing from Japan that stands up and has a creepy anthropomorphic face on it, as a Japanese desk accessory would.
  • About a dozen bills or “important” papers from like 2014 stuffed between a speaker and the pen holder.
  • A Verilux desktop light.
  • A Verilux light box I never use.
  • A Ghiradelli candy bar.
  • Apple remote.
  • Vanatoo remote.
  • Cloth napkin.
  • Apple earbuds.
  • The paperwork satchel thing out of a MacBook Pro.
  • Half a can of Coke Zero.

(None of this is probably of any interest, but it will be of interest to me in five or ten years, so that’s why it’s here.)


All of the stuff currently on my desk, a list with little to no commentary

This is a list of all of the stuff on my desk.  Note that I don’t always write fiction-type stuff at my desk, because I work all day there, and it usually works out better when I write sitting on the couch in the living room, with actual sunlight and windows and whatnot.

  • Macbook Pro, Lenovo Thinkpad T410 – personal and work machines, respectively.  They both sit on top of each other, the Mac on the top, and run in clamshell 100% of the time, feeding into a KVM switch.
  • USB hub – connected to the Mac.  It usually has an extension cord plugged into it for when my Zoom B3 is sitting on the desk and I’m playing the bass.  It also has a FitBit charging cradle plugged into it.
  • WikiReader portable wikipedia offline reader thing I was talking about the other day, and its manual.
  • A flexible cable tie that I use to hang onto all of the disconnected cords from the Mac when I take it elsewhere, so I don’t spend 45 minutes trying to dig them up again after they fall behind the desk every goddamn time I disconnect the computer.
  • The Mac remote that came with my last MacBook, which still works for the new one, because at some point, Apple stopped including them, which is a damn shame.
  • A printout of a McKinsey report on disruptive technologies which is mostly bullshit about automated cars that S printed out for me and I feel like I should read, but after skimming it, I thought it was mostly buzzwords.
  • A pair of M-Audio studio monitors.
  • A Toshiba 1.5Tb portable USB hard drive.
  • A bunch of different smart vitamins that I never take, because I’m not smart enough to remember.  They currently include L-Theanine, Ginkgo Biloba, and Huperzine A.
  • A set of nose filters, which you are supposed to put in your nostrils and filter out air to prevent allergies.  They mostly work, but are really annoying and they push out your nostrils and make you look like a pig-alien from that episode of The Twilight Zone where everyone was horribly ugly, and the really hot chick couldn’t get surgery to look like them.
  • Someone’s address clipped off of the corner of an envelope.
  • My iPad on a stand that’s actually a wire cookbook holder, but only cost $4.
  • A bunch of Coke reward codes torn off of cases of Coke Zero.  I collect them, but I’m really lazy about entering them, so they accumulate.
  • The iPad to USB camera connector adapter.
  • A pair of foam earplugs, which always remind me of when I worked in a factory and had to wear them constantly.
  • A stack of post it notes, in the following colors: pink, yellow, pink, a white one from Samsung for some “Change and Innovation” bullshit program that nobody paid any attention to, pink, purple, yellow.
  • A bunch of cashed checks and the payment coupon booklet for my HOA.
  • A hexagon-shaped pencil holder with about a dozen and a half pens, a Palm Pilot stylus, a couple of Ikea golf pencils, and a sword letter opener with the handle broken off.
  • A half-empty bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, refreshing aloe flavor.
  • A Verilux table lamp.
  • A goLite M2 full-spectrum light.
  • A Kensington trackball.
  • An Apple Magic Trackpad.
  • A Kinesis Advantage keyboard.
  • A Guitar Center receipt.
  • A cloth napkin.
  • A copy of “Slap Bass: The Ultimate Guide” by Ed Friedland, on DVD.
  • These stupid Virgin Mobile prepaid phone cards, which I cannot get rid of.  (If you use Virgin Mobile prepaid, please email me and I will sell them at a loss.)
  • A pad of paper.
  • A stack of received postcards.
  • The instruction manual to a Meteor USB Mic.
  • The medication guide for Zolpidem tablets, which I do not take, but which I found amusing, because it says “After taking zolpidem, you may get out of bed while not being fully awake and do an activity that you do not know you are doing.”  The activities listed include driving a car and having sex.

I also have a monitor and a webcam, but they are not really on my desk; they’re mounted to a stand that is mounted to the back of my desk.


Desks, a viewport into the mind

As a writer, I spend a lot of time at desks.  And I have some strange obsession with the workspaces of writers, which is why I always seem to be snapping pictures of my desks.  And every time I go back and look at it, I can tell the era and the project and the general zeitgeist by seeing what things I needed to keep within arm’s reach during the marathon stretches at the typer.

Here’s a bunch of pictures of my desks over the years.  Why?  I don’t know.  A good way to waste a Friday afternoon, I guess.

Here’s where I spent a lot of 1999: in Washington Heights at Marie’s, my first stop in New York, and where I hacked out the ending of Summer Rain. This must have been soon after my arrival.  There’s my Polaroid, which I bought during the cross-country trip, and some Hi-8 tapes, probably also from the journey.  That silver thing between the speakers is a MiniDisc recorder.

That winter, I moved to Astoria, and got my own place.  Still working off the office table, but I have a real chair now.  This must be in mid-2000, because I’ve got my surround sound speakers installed.  I probably got the bulk of my work from 2000-2005 done at this desk, where I used to type from nine to midnight over the sound of Jersey Shore wannabe douchebags screaming at each other outside my first floor window (hence the speakers.)

My desk at Juno, from 1999-2001.  I didn’t do as much fiction writing here, but I pumped out a lot of tech writing.  It was my first cube, after years of Seattle offices with closing doors.  There’s some xmas lights up; they told us we could decorate our cubes, so I went to K-Mart and bought $100 of lights, including one of those blinking strands that played 24 different holiday songs from an annoying watch-type speaker.

By 2001, I added this stupid aquarium to my desk, in some effort to be less stressed out or something.  I was too lazy to buy fish though, which is probably for the best, since they would have died after 9/11 when my power went out for a week.  You can also see the corner of my beige mini-tower computer on the floor, the case I bought back in 1992.  I must have replaced it a few months later.

In 2002, I started writing on the road a lot more, taking last-second fare deals every time we had a long weekend, so my “desktop” looked like this a lot.  That’s my Latitude LS, the first “real” computer I bought new.  A screaming Pentium III with 256 MB of memory and Windows 98, for a only $2500.  I dual-booted into Linux so I could fire up emacs at 40,000 feet and type away.  No, no wifi.

Here’s what it looked like in action: a hotel room in they Hyatt connected to the Pittsburgh airport, on Good Friday of 2002.  There’s also a Handspring Palm-clone PDA in action, something I bought to jot down ideas and read e-books, but ended up using primarily to play Dope Wars.  I was probably finishing edits of Rumored to Exist around then, although I was also mostly getting drunk and thinking of stupid movie ideas.

When you’re a bachelor for too long, this is what happens.  This is probably early 2005, and the mail collection has gotten out of control.  I think the browser window is opened to my old /photos directory, running its hacked-together PHP gallery software, before I finally gave up and just started using flickr for everything.  If you look carefully, you’ll see a PlayStation 2 on the floor, which is responsible for my lack of writing output for most of the 2000s.

Hey look, I got a Mac!  This is from spring of 2005, and I also got an ergo keyboard.  And I must have started dating Sarah, given that I felt the need to clean the apartment so it didn’t look like a serial killer was there, or maybe they were filming a special two-part episode of Hoarders.  Don’t worry, the stacks of unopened mail are still there; I found a spot on a bookcase to hide them, which is a miracle, given the number of books I had at this point.

New house, new desk.  This was late 2005, when I moved in with Sarah on the Lower East Side.  That desk was brutal to put together.  That red phone followed me around since maybe 1988 or so; I’ve still got it in storage somewhere.  There’s also the receiver for a Microsoft wireless mouse, a wretched little pointing device that ate batteries faster than a walkman with a 20-inch subwoofer.

That desk followed me to Denver, and in 2007, this is where I spent most of my time writing an unpublished book about time machines, and hacking at Ruby on Rails code.  The thing in the center is a full-spectrum light; I hadn’t sold the Mac Mini yet; this was well into September and going into Rocktober, given the order form for postseason tickets sitting in the corner of the picture.

In 2008, we moved to LA, and I worked from home again, this time with a place back in Denver.  I spent my days in VMware, slogging away in a Windows virtual machine, which is shown.  This was during my massive weight loss campaign, as evident by the 100-calorie pack and the diet Sobe Lean pink grapefruit soda.  I had an okay view from the window, with lots of California sun and the occasional crow on the tree outside.

Here’s my officemate for much of my writing.  Loca loved to crawl on the desk and crash, especially when I had documents spread out.  It’s always nice to have cats around when you’re writing, though.  You can also see how I hid my laptop on a keyboard tray, and a close look at the whiteboard shows some Ruby on Rails for hackers cheatsheet, which I probably looked at once and then ignored.

A bad stitch of some pictures of my office at Samsung.  Note the early 80s decor, like the old-school cubicles.  I didn’t have much on my desk, because any time a senior exec from Korea came to visit, they would go apeshit if anything was out of order, so everyone would panic and hide every single thing on their desk in an effort to make it look as sterile as an operating room.  Well, an operating room with early 80s wood paneling.

I wish I had pictures of my desk from 1992, when I lived at the Mitchell Street house and worked off of an old card table, the same one I used to use to build model airplanes in my early teens.  I also had a pretty kick-ass Sauder L-shaped desk in 1993, where I really started my writing career.  I either sold it or gave it away when I left Bloomington, but it was a nerd command center, with plenty of CD storage and a keyboard tray and plenty of room for 3.5″ floppy disks, since you needed roughly 87 of them to install Linux back then.


First photo on a junk camera

This is the first picture I took with my Fuji Finepix S3100 when I got it on March 13, 2005.  I bought the camera on a lark from a sale on Amazon, specifically to take on my second trip to Hawaii. It was my second digital camera, after having an Olympus for about four years.  It was a 4MP and was “SLR-inspired”, meaning the front lens stuck out a bit and it was impossible to put in a pocket easily.  It took some decent pictures, but also suffered in low-light.  I took 4329 pictures with it over the next two and a half years, but shortly after taking pictures at a Rockies-Giants game on 9/3/07, it completely died, and made a horrible glass rattling sound inside, so something was definitely wrong with it.

Some random things about this picture, in no particular order:

  • It’s at my job in New York, and it’s at the job I recently re-started, so it’s weird to see my old desk again.
  • I bought those noise-cancelling headphones at Tower, which is now gone.  They never really worked – I hoped I could wear them at night in my apartment to drown out the sound of the Jersey Shore-wannabe douches that always hung out on the sidewalks in Astoria, but they don’t really work like that.
  • It’s strange to see the non-diet Coke cans on my desk.  They used to be a constant, but now that I only drink diet, the red cans seem alien to me.
  • There’s some Arizona and Snapple bottles.  We used to always get lunch at Han’s Deli across the street, and I’d always get something like that to drink.
  • There are a couple of horror movie action figures, also from Tower, sitting under the monitor.  I see the Freddy Krueger in particular.
  • I switched to a flatscreen by that point at work.  I started with a huge CRT that did not seem huge at the time.  There’s actually an ancient CRT monitor sitting in my new cube in Palo Alto that I use when I’m there, and it’s astounding how colossal those things seem now that everyone uses LED for everything.
  • I can’t be 100% sure, but it looks like Outlook is running on my screen.
  • On the cube wall, I see a cheatsheet of Framemaker keystrokes, and a printed copy of a style guide I wrote.
  • I also see part of a red “remove before flight” tag pinned to the wall.
  • We got those translucents blue calculator for free as leftovers from some trade show.  They had this cover over them, where you clicked a button and it swung open like a Star Trek communicator, but the spring broke and it would take 39 seconds to open, so I tore off the cover.
  • I don’t even remember that analog clock or where I got it; I don’t think I have it anymore.  I used to have this cool digital one that had a calendar and the time on it, also trade show swag, but the battery died and I think I threw it out.
  • That grey cup in the foreground is an IU cup that I had in Seattle that followed me and is now here in my kitchen.  The IU logo is entirely worn off of it now.
  • The “45” thing was a tag on an Ogio bag, which I used as a coaster.
  • The picture in the frame is from a helicopter ride at Lake Mead, just outside of Vegas.

Here’s the last picture I took with the camera.  What I remember about it:

  • I think I went to this game on a whim, and I went by myself.
  • I got seats in left field, just because I never sat there.  They were cheap, but not that ideal – you really can’t see much of the action.
  • I wanted to make an asterisk sign for Barry Bonds, but I didn’t get around to it.  He didn’t play that day, I think because it was a lefty on lefty situation.
  • There was this crazy dude sitting next to me who had season tickets and was a die-hard fan who spent the whole game yelling and heckling every single player.

So that’s the life and the death of a camera.  It’s been Canon all the way since then, two point/shoots and a DSLR, with no regrets.


Desk shopping

I am looking for a new desk setup.  I think this is pretty ideal, but I’m concerned about available space.  Also I don’t know if I have the right cable to hook my PS3 into this, and I’m sure it’s like $78 down at Best Buy.

I am currently using an Ikea desk that was obviously designed for double-leg-amputee midgets that work on a Fischer Price My First Computer that does not generate any heat.  I will start working from home next week, so I’m going to need more space for a second laptop, plus the cat that will most likely demand constant attention during the day and probably require some kind of cat shelf to be added to the desk.

Big fan of the Anthro cart, but I’ve never bought one – I wonder if it’s worth it to buy direct and get a discount, or try to find some resale place or a good deal on a used one.  I would go check eBay, but I know I will just end up spending five hours searching for signed baseball memorabilia and/or exotic sports cars (or even better, impersonator kits of exotic sports cars.  I wonder if the Fiero designers at Pontiac ever knew so many of their creations would be chopped, stretched, and reskinned as imposter Lambos and Ferraris.)


busch gardens

I just tried to clean off my desk in some fit of productivity, and threw out a metric assload of paper. It’s amazing that one of the big sells of the whole online billpay thing is a lack of paper, but all of my billers still send me a paper duplicate, and of course for every paper of important information, there are about five pages of crap about credit card insurance, discount travel offers that are more expensive than just going to the airline and buying the ticket, and offers for free magazine subscriptions (postage and handling not included, $20 per issue.) I have some paranoia for keeping old statements, so I went through and excised them from all of the other paperwork and threw that shit out. Yeah, it’s been an exciting Saturday.

I’m still working on short stories for this next Bloomington book, and I posted the rough start of one in my livejournal (look below and to the left for the link.) I don’t usually post to livejournal, but I know that absolutely nobody reads this journal, so whatever. Anyway, the stories are going okay, but it’s the kind of thing where I am pretty much sure nobody will ever read them, and I am simply writing them for the sake of writing them, and I hope that the work will eventually get me in the right mood to do something else.

I’m still excited about going on vacation next month, and slowly picking at google to figure out what to do when I have the time, which is almost never. I am vaguely thinking about taking another glider lesson when I’m down there, because there’s a gliderport around Orlando and they have reasonable prices, but it all depends on time and money. The last time I was there for two weeks and with more money in my pocket, I vowed to drive to the Space Coast or at least to Orlando to check everything out over there, but every day I slept in or decided to do something else. Maybe some other time I might go out there exclusively, although I wonder how morose all of the tours of the space facilities are since the Columbia accident.

Another vague thought of mine was whether or not to go to Busch Gardens. I went as a kid, but I wonder if now it’s tiny and busted compared to my memories of it. I know there are a few rollercoasters, and I’m always a big fan of those, but I’m wondering if $50 and the drive to Tampa is worth it or not.

Food’s here. I haven’t ordered delivery for a while, but I was bored so I called up the Thai place. Now I need to find a movie to watch and eat.