Scribbler’s Saga #53 – Writer’s Exercise

Posted: January 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

© 2018 G.N. Jacobs

Brought to you by some of the same people who ask awed questions and then don’t accept repetition as an answer, you’ll also hear “concerns” about writers sitting all the time. So to burn off calories and shut them up, we’ll consider buying something intended to do both exercise and write at the same time. And the purveyors of standing or exercising workstations just stifled gleeful giggles waiting for us to push Complete Sale. This is my adventure…

For a while now, I’ve had the stationary bike sitting under the new table (see top photo) so I could still watch TV (have to do something about the boredom of lots of exercise where the scenery doesn’t change). I use it when I remember (more often than the other gear), but there’s a time limit gifted by the seat…my ass hurts after two hours. I’ve pushed through a few times, but then my ass really hurts. And this arrangement didn’t fully help me the few times I wanted to write and burn calories.

Riding the stationary bike while finger tapping on my iPhone is possible and represents one of the few exceptions to the discoveries in my previous Write and Chew Gum post. I just don’t do this very often; single finger typing takes twice as much time as most other writing methods (time trials post to follow whenever). And there is still my ass to consider.

Thinking that I would at least conduct the same bicycle kick exercise motion while lying flat on my back easing up on my grateful ass, I bought a set of resistance bands, twice. The second, because it had a wider range of resistance. At some point, I’ll actually use them…probably when it’s time to do the upper body workout I currently lack. But, since I have yet to trust letting Siri do the typing, I won’t actually write that day.

I have a treadmill (now stored in my crowded back room) waiting for more days when I just can’t let my sore ass dictate my lack of exercise. Between the treadmill and actual walks of similar distance, I wrote the Write and Chew Gum post never feeling quite so much existential fear as trying to walk while banging out words on my iPhone (even regular walks require an orange walking coat). I suspect that the purveyors of the phone app that allowed me to type over a camera image are secretly culling the herd, like Blofeld in the book version of You Only Live Twice.

Hooking into the treadmill’s safety cord doesn’t actually lessen the feeling that I’m five seconds away from earning my Darwin Award in the Furthest Blood Splash from Impact Category. I did cut a board on which to type with an iPad and/or write pen and paper with a light. Nah, still Five…Four…you get the – THUMP! “Ow!” – idea. With the treadmill, put headphones in for good music and look straight ahead and it’s not a writing day because I still don’t trust Siri to type.

Next, still needing to consider upper body workouts, I harken back to my college days watching Chuck Norris shill the Total Gym and buy the second one in my life so far. At least, the fact that these bench and pulley thingamabobs have a price that settled to their natural level once the As Seen on TV aspect faded and you can just get them off Amazon or at Big 5. Work the upper body, yes, but I also thought maybe I can finger type while doing squats and step ups on the kickboard attachment. We’ll see.

Through it all, the bike beckons. The TV won’t watch itself and it does get some calories. I watch a movie or a few episodes. I adjust the pillows. I quit when my ass tells me to. So recognizing this pattern, I become susceptible to all kinds of advertising for bikes that either fit under standard desks or have flat platforms for notebook computers. I buy one of the latter (see third photo). And so now after much preamble, thus begins the assembly adventure where you have some days where you get more exercise building or moving the stupid thing than using it.

I put together the bike…sort of. I spend several hours reading the instructions and wrangling the shiny metal parts from landing on my crimson throw rugs with pseudo-Persian designs (chrome nuts and bolts will still disappear when you’re not looking). I turn on every light in the room and still have to use my cell phone light.

The thing works…sort of. I left off decorative plastic bits. I attached a column inside another piece when outside might have been what the picture in the instructions asserts (hard to tell, pretty much the only instructions not subject to interpretation must be IKEA). I attached the flywheel in the main body of bike to the controls in the column and here is where I lost most of my time that day because I’m absolutely convinced the gap in the connector hook for the tension wire was simply too long. Solving this with needle nose pliers that bends a claw attachment around the tension wire probably voids the warranty.

This new bike pedals stiffer than the older one with the uncomfortable seat leaving me to wonder if I need to break it in with more use or if manhandling the tension wire will always leave the feel too stiff. Additionally, this bike has a higher center of gravity leading to a little bit more wobble on the pedal. I suppose whining about the fact that the computer tray, while usable for its stated purpose, is visibly out of level by just a little bit defines piling on. Back to Amazon for the next thing…a projector cart table.

The table (see second photo) build goes a lot better. I end up using the whole day in a room that eventually must be lit with every light in the room and still will use my cell phone light. I chase parts across my floor. I read the instructions and move slowly. And like with the bike, the tools they give you suck.

What went wrong to be fixed after several hours? I put the framing for the flat small table top in backwards. Neither the instructions nor the actual pieces are easy to discern which way the framing should be bolted in (the difference is about a half inch from purely symmetrical) so you just unscrew it, turn it around and see what happens. Success!

And this is the bare bones of two different days where a writer built stuff to help him write and exercise and neither wrote nor worked out until the day after. But, there are a few lessons to be gained for when you have to build your exercise/writing station.

The tools in the box suck balls.

In both cases, I got a wrench without enough torque to matter (big sticks drive more energy into the bolts and fasteners, almost like with levers. See second photo). But find your beloved channel locks? Done faster. And I got a hex key that may or may not have also been too short to do the job. The table had that one hex key bolt that just wouldn’t bite into the hole, but bring out an interchangeable bolt driver as seen in the picture? Done in three minutes and two minutes to redo the frame by turning it around.

There’s always going to be something, so block out the whole day and turn on the lights.

And that, Folks, is what we learn from building things. Next time.

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