The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Some Assembly Required


October 30, 2006

Always be wary of office furniture that comes in a nice compact box and then says “assembly required.” This weekend was the weekend to reclaim the basement and reclaim some functional workspace at home. For the past 10 months, i’ve been using a half-sized card table as a “desk” in the basement. The original plan when we threw out the desk from the old office (donated, actually) and moved the computer downstairs to the then newly finished basement was to have a nice desk / office set up at home where I might get some work done. Well, to make a long story short, it didn’t quite work out that way and this weekend we finally got around to buying some office furniture in an attempt to reclaim the basement.

We bought a desk–no hutch–and stand-alone file. We bought on-line and had it delivered.

First, wood furniture–even particle board / pressboard stuff like this– is rather heavy when all the wood is bundled together. It was a pain just to get it in the house, let alone downstairs. Then, of course, it came in pieces.

Now, I’m not the most handy guy around. I can fix a few things, make minor improvements, but I’m not going to ever build myself a deck. I like to believe I could, but really, I’m not going to. But, having a Ph.D., I like to think I can follow directions that only come in pictures.

The best part of the directions is the recommendation that you not use power tools. Like all homeowning males, I have a cordless drill / screw driver. Craftsman 18 Volt. But, I didn’t use it for the assembly of the file cabinet, and so it took a long time. All the screwing gave me a blister, in fact. So, I went with the drill for the desk, and that was a nice thing. Oh, yes, lots of screws. Thankfully, there are pre-drilled holes.

Really, the pre-drilled holes are the lifesavers, because you really can’t go wrong. There are only so many screws (at least 5 different kinds) that will fit in each hole, so by process of elmination, you’re bound to find the right one sooner or later. Plus, everything will line-up with the pre-drilled holes.

So, saturday I spent my day doing 2 things. I put together my new office furniture and I watched one heck of a football game. It was a remarkable display of total domination of the air-land stadium battlespace by what is clearly the best team in the nation. While I know some of my fellow bloggers here aren’t always the biggest fans of college sports, it is fun when your alma matter is winning. The football game took about 3 hours, the furniture took pretty much the rest of the day, including my magical daylight savings time hour (yes, i was up that late). I didn’t quite finish, but came pretty darn close.

This morning I did finish, and I the new desk is nice. Finished just in time to shopping for stuff (groceries, target and all that– though it is very wierd to run into phd students from my department in the parking lot of target…) Its nice looking and actually provides functioning workspace except for one thing– it comes with a little computer cabinet where my computer box lives, and that’s nice, but it has no ventilation, so the thing overheats when you close the door like you’re supposed to. So, the door stays open.

Now I just need to put all the piles of paper cluttering the rest of the floor into the file cabinet.

But, i must say its nice to have a real desk again. Maybe I’ll start actually getting some work done at home in the near future.

and that was my weekend.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.