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commit 51509c41bff814a56a9d0110c14f204ad4224b7c
parent 11187b315b4b1f98dc2d90cc56ea134681910031
Author: alex wennerberg <>
Date:   Sun,  9 Apr 2023 16:27:13 -0400

writing about chairs

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Asrc/writing/misc.html | 4++++
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diff --git a/src/now.html b/src/now.html @@ -3,4 +3,4 @@ <p>moved to brooklyn NY</p> <p>working in tech</p> <p>mostly doing computer stuff in my free time</p> - +<p>Now reading: Anti-Oedipus: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (part of a reading group). Saving Time -- Jenny Odell</p> diff --git a/src/writing/chair.html b/src/writing/chair.html @@ -0,0 +1,156 @@ +<h1>chairs and chair alternatives</h1> + +<p>In 2020, I read Galen Cranz's book <a + href="">The Chair: Rethinking + Culture, Body and Design</a>, and it had a strong effect on me. Galen Cranz +argues that sitting in a 90-degree angle chair is fundamentally unstable and at odds with the human body. +"Good" posture is essentially impossible to maintain in a +chair, which throws the body out of balance. She studies chairs through an +anthropological and historical lens. For example, during British colonial rule +in India, workers in a factory would squat on the ground while working, and +chairs and stools were forced upon them. Prior to colonization, it would be +normal for, say, a teacher to lead a classroom seated on the floor, adding +chairs to a classroom became a way of bringing it and the colonial subjects +closer in line with Western ideals.</p> + +<p>Chairs are associated with Western modernity and "development". We would +consider it odd, to, for example, sit on the ground on the train, or a subway +platform, in an office, or in a university lecture. Chair sitting is associated +with being dignified, clean, professional, etc. Galen Cranz challenges these +assumptions, encourages us to see them as dependent on a specific cultural +context, and explore other ways of interacting with our environment through out +bodies. I've tried to challenge chair-sitting and experiment with different +ways of relating to my environment with my body in my work and recreation in my +home.</p> +<p> +Some context: I am 5'11, able-bodied, male, cisgender, 155-165 pounds. These is +in many ways, a highly normative body, and the physical environment of the +world is rarely not designed for me. These experiments may, for whatever +reason, not apply to you, they only reflect my experience, but I encourage your +own exploration and experimentation in the context of your body. I would +contend that this exploration would be only more valuable for people whose +bodies deviate from the norm in some way. I am not a yoga practitioner, +ergonomics expert, or anything -- this is not a prescriptive guide, but an +invitation to exploration.</p> + +<p>A lot of this guide will be biased towards thinking about being at a +computer, which is, unfortunately, where I find myself much of the time.</p> + +<h2>sitting</h2> +<p>Chair sitting's inherent instability generally leads to people +hunching over, putting strain on and weakening their necks and putting them +into a posture that is difficult to maintain comfortably over time. This is +because in a chair, the Pelvis is tilted upwards, forcing the spine to curve +forward, pushing the neck forward.</p> + +<p><a href=",q_glossy,ret_img,w_800/">"Good" + ergonomics</a> tells you that the solution is to sit up straight, with a natural +curve in the spine. However -- have you ever seen someone sit stably like this +for a long period of time? Have you ever been able to? Galen Cranz argues that +the 90 degree angle of the chair necessarily pushes the pelvis forward on the +chair, making it almost impossible to maintain this posture without strain. +When I sit in a chair such as the $2000 Herman Miller Aeron chair depicted in this +image, I generally have some sort of dynamic, fidgety, twisted posture, and no +matter how hard I try, I find myself hunched forward, and I'm sure anyone +observing an open plan office will observe something similar.</p> + +<p>Alternative, more 'stable' seating generally involves something that puts your +pelvis at an angle other than 90 degrees. Something like, sitting on a <a + href="">kneeling chair</a>, the +edge of a stool (I have a rocking stool with a cushion on it) or the lip of a +sloped chair. However, this requires strength and flexibility that you may not +have. I myself have been able to maintain a "pelvis-forward" sitting +posture for only a relatively short period of time. I'd be interested to see +whether practice and strength training changes this. Still, this posture +does feel constructive to me, it feels like it's something I could get better with in +time. </p> + +<p>I also sometimes sit in a reclined chair. Currently, I'm in <a + href="">this + chair</a> writing this. In this position, I'm very relaxed and leaning back, +with my laptop or a book on a pillow on my lap. I type on my laptop in this +position, but it's difficult to take professional calls seated like this, given +the position of the camera relative to my face. However, I've found a laptop +keyboard that is comfortable to type on for long periods of time, so this works +quite well for me. I never, ever work on side or personal projects at a desk or in an +office chair -- I would find this unbearably unpleasant, like an extension of +work.</p> + +<h2>standing</h2> +Standing desks and sit-stand arrangements have become very popular in recent +years. I do stand sometimes for work and find it nice to pace around while on +meetings, etc. I used to have a standing-only desk, but I get tired quite +easily. Standard for a while definitely takes practice and may require +developing some strength. I stand on a yoga mat. + +<h2>the floor</h2> +When is the last time you sat on the floor for an extended period of time? I +recommend trying it and seeing where your body goes, what does it find +comfortable, uncomfortable, etc? Here are some ideas for floor sitting and +postures to experiment with.</p> + +<p>A <a href="">Zafu</a> is a round cushion that +elevates the hips, similar to the 'sitting' postures discussed above. When I'm +sitting on the floor for an extended period of time, I'm generally Sitting on +it took me some practice, but now it is quite comfortable for me. For a while, +this was the main position that I did work in, and I still work on my computer +sometimes on the floor , but it is relatively static and non-relaxed, so it's +difficult to maintain all day. You probably want to put your Zafu on some sort +of soft mat, like a yoga mat or <a +href="">Zabuton</a>. +</p> +<p>Some ways of sitting on the floor:</p> + +<ul> + <li><a href="">Sukhasana</a>, aka "Criss-cross applesauce"</li> + <li><a href="">Burmese posture</a></li> + <li><a href="">Half Lotus</a></li> + <li><a href="">Seiza</a> -- I generally do this with a pillow between my hips and feet.</li> +</ul> + +<p>Learning to do a <a href="">full squat</a>, +where your full foot is on the ground, can be a valuable posture. Some people +struggle with this, but it was never difficult for me. It may require +developing some flexibility. In some cultures, this is a natural resting +position people maintain for hours, I'm not able to do that, but I do sometimes +do this squat when I'm waiting for a train/bus, extremely tired, and alone or in a mood +where I'm unconcerned with people judging me.</p> + +<h2>lying down</h2> +<p>I will often lie in bed or on a couch with my upper back elevated and neck supported +and either have my legs straight or have my knees up and my laptop or a book on my knees. +I have less to say about this, because most of us are used to lying down, but +one comment I'd like to make is that I find lying down to be a very reasonable +posture to work on things. Most of the code for <a +href=""></a>, I wrote supine. I often +lie down while working at a laptop, and would encourage you to experiment with +it.</p> + +<p><a href="">Constructive rest</a> is a good posture for relaxing and listening to a podcast or something.</p> + +<h2>mindset</h2> +The placement of your body probably also affects your thinking. In some +positions, you may find certain kind of activity more natural. For example, +stool-sitting, chair-sitting and standing, I associate with work, as in, my +professional job, and tend to affect in me feelings of industriousness, +productivity, diligence, professionalism, as well as anxiety and annoyance. I +encourage you both to explore these associations and challenge them -- is there +any reason why one couldn't do serious, professional work while supine? +Personally, I've done it before, but my reservations are less about what being +supine does to my work, but rather what doing work does to being supine, ie, +there is this tension between doing work (disciplining myself into being +productive towards specific ends) and lying down. + +<h2>conclusion</h2> +Hopefully you found this interesting. I encourage you to try non-chair-sitting ways +of moving your body when eating, reading, resting, working, etc. If you have +input into designing a space, consider the ways in which it prioritizes chair +sitting, and experiment with other forms of laying things out, e.g. more spaces +for floor-sitting or lying down. If you have friends who are open to it, try +setting up a nice space for hanging out or enjoying a meal on cushions on the +floor. In my home, I have various spaces and vary between postures throughout +the day, and I encourage you to do the same and find what works for you. If you +search many of the topics discussed in this page, you'll find a lot of people +exploring alternatives to chair-sitting. If you have any ideas or feedback, +please email me at the link found in the footer, I may highlight comments here if you'd like +as well. diff --git a/src/writing/misc.html b/src/writing/misc.html @@ -0,0 +1,4 @@ +<h1>misc</h1> +<p>Miscellaneous writing, may categorize this more as time goes on</p> + +<a href="/writing/chair.html">chairs and chair alternatives</a> diff --git a/templates/header.html b/templates/header.html @@ -28,6 +28,7 @@ <ul> <li><a href="/poetry">poetry</a></li> <li><a href="/blog">blog</a></li> + <li><a href="/writing/misc.html">misc</a></li> </ul> </section> </section>