The Broken Poang Story or You Want To Drive Across The County For A Bolt?

The story started once upon a time in the dark ages called the 1980s.  I have a friend from way back then who got a job with Ikea when they opened their very first store here in the US in the fabled land of Plymouth Meeting, PA.

He was a fan of some of their products and since I had a major car accident where I was “laid up” for an entire summer, it was years before my muscle mass was strong enough that I could get comfortable in a chair, I would need to look for some furniture.

My friend suggested trying out a Poang Chair.

“A what?”

He described this weird flat pack thing that you get to assemble.  You select the upholstery you want with it, put it all together, it looks stylish and has clean lines.  The one I am sitting in now has a leather cushion and fits in quite well. I did eventually get one, but it was quite a few years before I did.

I went to a store and saw it and did like it but somehow managed to avoid getting one through the Apartment Stage of Life into my first home.

Then, I moved to Florida.  Then being in 2006.  One of the first things I managed to get was a Poang.

You see, Poang Chair frames are so sturdy that people tend to give them away rather than throw them out, or they end up at a better thrift store.  That is how I got both of mine.

 

I did go back to Ikea and upgrade the padding and upholstery on the first one – they are designed to be replaced by simply pulling them off the velcro on the frame.

 

It was a strange synthetic blue that looked like it belonged in a frat house basement.  When I put on the smooth and supple chocolate colored leather covering, it dressed it right up as well as the matching ottoman.

Yes, I do like them.  The second one serves as a desk chair.  Although my back is

much much better now, I can’t just sit in any old chair all day long.  The Poang is the exception.

The other chair has the original cotton fabric covered foam upholstery.  I’m fine with that.  Some of the upholsteries can be machine washed depending on the care instructions on the tag so you might be able to toss the covering into the washer, cold, and it comes out clean.

 

Some are dry clean only, and leather needs its own cleaning regimen.  Your mileage may vary.  Consult your owner’s manual.

 

Just let it air dry.  If it shrinks because you used Hot, you’re stuffed.  The original Frat House Blue covering shrank, I haven’t been bold enough to try to wash that beige one since it goes well with the colors in this house.

The other day though, I found out what the weak point was on the chair.   I was watching some drama on TV when all the sudden I was on the floor.

You see, there’s this bolt on the shoulder of the chair.  It holds the part you sit in to the frame of the chair.  Since everything is built very efficiently, remove one part and it just becomes a pile of bent wood.  They are built to bounce slightly while you are moving around in them but I guess 10 years of bouncing took their toll.

In my case, it was a pile of bent wood, reclining at a strange angle, me on top of it all and grateful that the dog did not get crushed under it.

That fabled bolt simply sheared.

“Help.”

I heard running from the other room.  “Are you alright?!??!”

Yes, it’s fine, I’m just at a strange angle.  Can you help me up?

I had to wait for my friend to calm down after I got rapid fire questions about how it happened, what caused it, why did I do it, and other minutia.

Obviously I didn’t break my favorite chair on purpose.

“Well I’ll have to make a trip to the hardware store.  They keep parts for these things.  Barring that, it’s back to the Ikea Mothership and get a bolt.”

I was told not to do anything, he’ll drive me to Ikea, we’ll get the bolt.

“All the way across the county to get a bolt?  I know Ikea stands behind their products but we don’t even know if …”

I was cut off.  It’s a treat to go to that giant blue barn of strangely named the merchandise.  “We can get a Right Sized Dinner there and get your bolt.”

*sigh* OK, I’ll give you a couple days and we can go otherwise I will start looking in the big box hardware stores.

Only my pride was harmed in the collapsing of my chair.  I waited a few days and we went out there.  Sitting shotgun in the car listening to that mechanical woman’s voice on the car’s GPS try and fail to figure out a good route to the store and tell us for the first half hour to “Make a legal U Turn” over and again.

“Come on, you silly voice.  It’s West out Oakland Park, South to 136th st after the curve!  Keep going until you see it just shy of I595.  It’s South Florida!  Locals Don’t Take Interstates at Rush Hour!”

We got there, got a Right Sized dinner, explored the items that were named at random by tearing pages out of the Stockholm Phone Book.  There were a few things I would not mind getting, and the Poang Rocker caught my eye yet again but the house really is Full of Things and I don’t need to shop.

Getting to the end of the maze I walked over, took a number and waited for one of the ladies at the counter to call “165!”.

“Hello, I need a Bolt!  My Poang collapsed and I was dumped on the floor!”

I got a bemused look and the tiniest hint of a smile.

“Ten years to a bolt, good gas mileage.”  She looked at a parts explosion for the chair.  They actually do stock all the parts to make their products in case you lose one or are shorted one.

Or in my case, ten years of use, the chair decides to shear one.  I’m a big guy, but not outlandishly so.  I understand that the load capacity is well north of my own 6’4″ and 225 Pounds.  They used to have a display where they were pounding a Poang chair with hydraulic lifts to illustrate their strength.

Good to know that I am not too big to use a chair!

She came back holding two of the bolts plus my sheared bolt.  Part number 146654, and no thank you I don’t need the special Ikea Allen Wrench part number 100001.

“Thank you! I can fix my favorite chair with that bolt!”  as I took both.

You never know when you need a spare bolt!  Maybe some time in another ten years I will be going back out to Sunrise, FL, to get another Right Sized Meal and some other parts after replacing the other bolt.

Just don’t know.  But it’s better than ending up on the floor with a surprised look on your face and a broken bolt to extract.

Now… if I could find a piece of plywood here around the house.  About 18 inches by 20 inches.  I could firm the seat up a bit.  Ikea products are very hackable.  End tables for $10 that work as computer racks are well known, and someone once built a man cave under a platform bed constructed from bookcases.

 

I still have my eye on that rocker for next time…

Reimagining the Desk – A Journey With A Stiff Neck

One of the earliest things that I had written about was my living room.   Specifically, I took a picture of my chair, my laptop, and the rest, and I then told the story of the Poang and how I tend to sit in my chair and write.   I also do more than that, all sorts of software development for fun and profit, as well as pretty much treat the thing as an office.

There’s a problem.

I originally thought that it was a Tall Guy Problem.  It’s not.  It’s simply a problem.

After reading Reddit and the Tall Subreddit where people take random selfies looking uncomfortable because the world was not engineered for someone over 6 feet tall, I came to the conclusion that Mom was Right.

My posture had become awful and my coveted chair was contributing to it all.  Back pain, stiff neck, and general achy self were some of the things I had noticed.

Yeah I know, Hey, Bill, Take Control.  Grab the Reins.

Ok, Smart Alec that lives inside my head, what do I do?

The house I live in has my desk.  The desk is in the Florida Room.  That room needs insulation and since the exposed beams warm the place to another five degrees F warmer than the rest of the house as soon as the sun starts to bake it, I had abandoned my desk almost immediately after I settled into it.

Don’t ask, it’s too warm to use.

The Ikea Poang in the middle of the living room is under a vent and a ceiling fan redirects the air conditioning so it’s comfortable.  I used to say that it was the coolest seat in the house, but I’m not so certain.

What I did was to relocate to the dining room.

I have an old 1950s or earlier solid maple table in there with matching solid wood chairs.  When Mom got this set, I took a liking to it.  I saw an opportunity when she started complaining that it didn’t do well in her kitchen in Barclay Farms, Cherry Hill, good ol’ New Jersey.  So I “helped her out” of it and it’s been with me ever since I moved into my first Philly apartment.

After waking up with a proper stiff neck that never went away and some other disturbing creaks and cracks that were getting more insistent, I tried some minor changes.  It convinced me that while this isn’t perfect, I’m onto something.

Ergonomically speaking, your eyes will track to the center of the device that you are using.  In my case it is a 16 inch wide laptop.  If I put that on my lap, it will create some problems.

The worst problem is that since I slightly recline in the Poang, the view to the laptop means that I am looking down.  In the more than 10 hours a day I am sitting there using the laptop, my head ends up with chin literally glued to my chest.  That is not a good position.  Not at all.

The laptop had to be raised off my lap and placed onto Mom’s Maple table.

Good first step.  Now, slide back… great!  But those chairs are stiff.  Nobody wants to sit on an un-padded wood Captain’s Chair for hours no matter how nice it looks.   Plus the angle is still “down”.

I slid the chair aside, moved the Poang in.

It’s much better.  My eyes are dead center on the monitor.  The picture I took from my right shoulder, while it is out of focus, is perfect for showing the view I get from the bouncy chair.

One problem.  I am an excellent touch typist.  Mrs Momarella and my good friend Donna W. from High School taught me well.

The laptop is just below shoulder height.  That doesn’t make for comfort.  In fact, I tried typing that way for all of five minutes.  My hands nearly came off at the wrist.

Seeing that I can type with my eyes closed almost as well as I can with them open, I needed something else to happen.

I pulled the captain’s chair out again and used it for a platform to set the track ball.   It’s a big clunky thing that uses up my USB port and won’t sit on the arm of the chair.  Since this is “work hour use only” no worries there, I’ll just “own” using my dining room as my office.

One more thing.  Keyboard.

My old school IBM Model M Keyboard with the clicky keys!  Lets try that first. 

Nope.  It drains too much power to use on the USB converter thing.

Digging through the Parts Cabinet, I found an old Microsoft wireless keyboard.  That is on my knees right now just inside the picture.  It works “well enough” but I still want my PS/2 Keyboard.   Once I find my powered USB hub, I know that it will drive the keyboard I really want to use. 

Too bad you can’t get those clicky keyboards with bluetooth though.   It’s 1980s technology that will work because it’s just that good.  Too well designed to toss with real mechanical switches on each key.  They weigh almost as much as the laptop does.  I have about 4 of them in the house buried under the bed because when people tossed their old PCs, the keyboards would end up at the computer shows being sold for a mint.

If 5 dollars could be considered a mint.  Now they go for between 80 and 200 US Dollars more on auction and reseller sites.

No, I won’t share.  Get your own.  Besides, I may figure something else out with my coveted clicky IBM Keyboard Model M.

Yes, I have Ideas.

For now, I have my Tall Guy Adaptation.  It really isn’t about being tall though, it’s more about looking at how you are working and making sure you are sitting at the right place to put your head when you work.  When I touch type… I can set my head back and close my eyes, like this paragraph was typed.  If your are smaller and have a shorter torso, like about 95% of humankind, you can vary the height of everything so that you can work with it at ease.  That is why most “office chairs” have those adjustments to make things more comfortable.

But Laptops?  I’m beginning to realize that they just aren’t meant to live on your lap for 10 hours at a stretch.

Besides, if you do, these days, you will end up toasting your legs.  I’ll leave Mom’s Table to handle that for me.  I’m nice and cool listening to music on headphones, typing on my lap, and resting my head back with my eyes closed.

Yes, I can do this with my eyes closed.

Really.

Writing can be an effortless experience.   If I could only have told my 12 year old self who was bored hearing about all that in English Class in Mr Custer’s Sixth Grade Class in Stafford School on Berlin Road in Cherry Hill.

Boring as hell but useful.  Not everything can be an adventure novel after all.   Some come with a beige cover and will bore you to tears but you will use it every day of your life.

Just like that table and laptop combo.

Now oddly enough, before I wrote this up and headed on my little obsessive journey for desk nirvana, the Washington Post had written an infographic on this same subject.  I’ll make it a point to get out of my desk and chair more often, or I’ll at least try.

Since the poster is at this PDF link, it won’t fully display here.   On the other hand, I see that picture below and think… Is THIS what I put my body through?  YUCK!!!!

Ikea Hack – Build it Faster with Electric Screwdriver and a Cut Allen Wrench

This weekend was fix it weekend.  I had gotten a new battery for the electric screwdriver and set about tightening screws on everything that even looked distantly loose.

After putting up the new clock in the Kitchen, badly I might add but don’t look too closely, I did an inventory of all of my collected bits.  The screwdriver is a useful tool, but can be a bit specialized.  After all tiny screws will get stripped with an electric screwdriver, and you just may not have enough torque in the smaller ones to “oomph” that screw into place.

I had realized that I did something, years ago, that was novel and needed to be shared.

We have all put together that flat-packed furniture at one point or another, or used it and wondered why people bother using those silly little hex-keys to assemble them.  They can be literally painful to build, blister inducing, and frustrating when you realize you spent the entire afternoon tightening down yesterday’s work because you didn’t put a drop of wood glue into the threads to make it stay put.

Usually there are some sort of fitting that the screws will go into, wood on metal can pull apart easily if you have a particle board piece of furniture.  Typically the better pieces will have a threaded nut with a back on it to spread the compression energy on a wider area to hold things better, then the allen screw will tighten down into that.

They’re time consuming, and I found that there was a simple “hack”.   Take the allen wrench and cut it in half.  I cut mine right at the elbow of the 90 degree joint, and now I have a bit to put into the electric screwdriver.  Once I mount the allen wrench bit into the hole, I can use the electric screwdriver to tighten everything up quickly.

I’ve never heard of anyone doing this but I’ve done it many times to build furniture or tighten up the bolts on the Poang Chairs that I’m so fond of.   As we say around here it “Works like a Champ!”.

Border Collie Fun is CatThumpSmile

She is resting.

A 10 year old Border Collie that shares my life.  We are in her second life now, I am still enjoying her and I am enjoying it to the fullest. 

She had an episode back in the Spring.  I don’t know what caused it, the vet didn’t know.  It was a month of my holding her up to take her out to do Her Business in the yard because something happened in the middle of the night that made her very unsteady and practically able to walk.  I took her to the excellent Family Pet at 2750 N Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale and they managed to get her back to normal.  If you aren’t going to them, call 954-567-2500 for your friend’s care.  Speak with Dr Sharon Glass or Dr Javier Gonzales and let them know that you are ready to step up for the best care in Fort Lauderdale available for your friend.  Tell them that Bill, Lettie’s dad sent you.

I walked in, all 6’4″ and 225 pounds, filling the doorway carrying an almost 50 pound border collie that couldn’t walk, crying into her fur.  After they calmed me down, they allowed me to stay with her as they stabilized her condition and got her to where she could heal herself with a couple bottles of non steroidals.  I think I finally left after about 5 hours of brooding fragile silence on my part.  She’s on Glucosamine to this day.  50 pounds and 2000mg a day. 

Now she’s feeling normal.   This morning the walk was the Almost One Mile that I do three times a day and despite the rain that floated through off the ocean, she came back invigorated.

She was, I still needed my second mug of coffee.

Parking myself in the bouncy chair, mug by my side, surfing to a German pop music station at www.place2be-online.de I started on my Usual Morning Job Search Routine of 1000 links, 150 pages of job fun.

Welcome isn’t what I’d call this side effect of the Republican Induced Great Depression, but it is what it is.

Lettie was feeling the music.  Being a German pop station, there was a piece of music on that I remember from the local dance stations in English that was particularly bouncy.  After listening to this station for an hour I’ve yet to hear anything in German other than the news broadcast…

Bouncy music means Bouncy Moose.   I’m in the bouncy chair.  The Poang that amplifies every major movement I make.   Lettie bumped into the chair setting me in motion and I kept up the bounce to the beat. 

Seeing The Cat, she bounced over to it and pounced on the toy making it squeak. 

Since I was at Border Collie Height in the brown bouncy Poang, Mrs Dog insisted that it was playtime.  Never mind that yesterday between all those links and job pages, it took me 5 hours to get through the routine, She Wanted To PLAY!

I found that she wanted more than my merely grabbing the leg of the cartoonish plush creature, she was happily whipping it and my arm around like a parody of a video on the Discovery Channel where an alligator is doing the death roll on some unfortunate impala in the African Savannah.  Having almost 50 pounds of insistent black fur tugging on a plush creature, and by extension my arm, we both were bouncing to the beat. 

Border Collies are amazingly intelligent dogs.  I have never met a dog quite as intelligent as mine, and while everyone says that who owns one, the comment is almost universally true of Border Collies and similar breeds.  I don’t teach her tricks, I teach behaviors.  She knows “Show Me” means for her to go and take me somewhere then look at what she wants directly.  She also knows a very light touch on the nose to be “Hello”.  So while I’m bouncing to the beat, and she’s starting to tire of being the engine of the chair’s rocking, I decided to reach around with my right hand and lightly touch her nose.  Smiling, she then decided “Daddy Likes This” and was reenergized.

We managed to get into a feedback loop.  Anyone who has a dog knows that anything they do tends to be short duration unless they’re bored and in some sort of Obsessive Compulsive state.  The also know that most Middle Aged dogs tend to sleep a lot.  I won’t call her Aged like the BBC did the other day, she simply does not act it. 

Instead of her being bored with my not being up out of the chair she started over and decided to try to get that cat out of my head by whipping her head around thrashing.  It was about that time when I heard a THUMP against the supporting wooden frame.  Yes, my border collie, the smartest dog in all the world smacked her head against the chair.   Did she care?  Not at all.  She decided it was part of the game.  I pulled the cat free of her mouth and she looked at me with those deep brown eyes, smiled and did another grab for the tabby toy.

Finally after I got tired of the game I started to toss the toy against the door.  Having to run and having to get the toy back to me slowed the feedback loop down until finally she was done.

An Hour Later.

She really must have needed that hour romp.  Finally, sated, she curled up onto the mat into a Dog Ball (TM) and is resting.

It is hard to say who enjoyed that more, Lettie or Me.

So what is this bar thing at the bottom?

Simple. 

It allows you to chat, if someone else is there you can even talk to someone else.

The bar at the bottom will talk with Facebook and show you the group that I set up.

There will be a map that shows you where the last few people are who hit the page.

There is a link on the bottom that shows you how many people liked the page.

That’s the short and sweet.  I have been wondering who if anyone has been reading my blog.  I sit down after I make my coffee in the morning, before I do the job search, and I check things out.  Each page that I write, the blog entries are basically a “Brain Dump”.  I sit there and think of a topic, or post a picture and write about it.  I have wondered whether or not there was a reason for me to continue, and knowing that there’s someone who I don’t know in Washington who has been reading me daily for a while, does make it worth it. 

I know when I posted something about GFS, it wandered all through their corporate HQ and I got a real spike in traffic.  Great shop by the way, if you have a GFS nearby, go and explore.  Their food is high quality and if the other stores are anything like the one in Fort Lauderdale, they’ll be just as amazing as well.  Real nice folks down here, I’m sorry I didn’t go in earlier.  Very helpful and very friendly.

There are some posts that get hit more than others of course.  The ones I wrote about the Poang chair last summer constantly get hit more than every other day.  The one where I basically trash a Swiffer gets hit a little less but there is a lot of interest in those as well.

I’m not a corporation, I haven’t earned a penny from the Blog, but knowing that people are interested keeps me going.  Being able to track what everyone likes to read is good for me because I can write more about that sort of thing.  This is all opinion, and if I’m wrong… well I’m wrong and it won’t be the first time.

I will hop in the chat bar every so often.  If you see someone in there say hi.  I’ll be surprised but happily so.

If you are on Facebook, feel free to join the group.   I’ll post the day’s link in there as well as in my own FB page.  It isn’t a very popular blog, I’ve got around 100 readers, which is surprising as well.   I hated to write in school and writing here was a pleasant change of pace for me. 

Being a Project Manager, I’ve found that this is a good outlet for me to write instructions to folks who have technical questions.  If I get long winded, well that’s all part of the job I guess. 

For now, the immediate payback is that if I get this to work, I’ll add this sort of thing to a client’s web page and be able to help that group touch other people’s lives with their own message. 

So feel free, read, and enjoy.  By all means, let me know what you think!  I’ve got almost a full year (next week will be the anniversary) of postings and they’re all online in the archives.  My personal schedule is to put up one new posting a day, at 8 in the morning, my time in Florida. 

Morning Rain brings Barky Showers

I awoke at 6 in the morning as it was my habit to do.  I was even able to get partially dressed before Mrs Dog decided that she heard me and came to investigate. 

The pleasures of an older dog.  When they’re puppies they’re under foot and don’t know why it is a problem.  When they’re adults, you tell them they’re under foot and learn not to be quite so close.  Now that she’s 10 and her hearing is getting selectively worse, I’m noticing that she isn’t quite as aware of what I’m doing any longer.  I can even get out of The Poang Chair and get standing before she opens her eyes.  Sleep is the number one activity.

I got out of bed, dressed, and padded my way into the Kitchen to roast a half cup of coffee beans.  Seven minutes in the roaster cum popcorn popper and I had time to feed her and grab all the gear we needed for a walk.

Finally, we were able to step outside and were greeted by a light mist of rain.  More like someone was standing on the roof and spraying a bottle of water into the air above my head.  I called to Lettie, and she decided that she didn’t hear or really didn’t need to hear what I was saying so I pulled her back into the door.  Inside the door is where we keep our umbrellas and this was going to be a wet walk.  We got to the corner where the 25 year old grey and maroon umbrella was opened and we walked into the progressively degrading conditions. 

By the time I rounded the corner the fourth time, I could see the sun rising over the ocean front condos, the ocean itself, and the Bahamas.  It was still raining but not so hard as I didn’t take the time to close the umbrella and use it to knock two mangoes off the tree on the corner on the rental property.   The people who live there are from Minnesota, they won’t mind, they don’t know what good mangoes are!

I walked inside and prepared a mug of coffee, a biscuit and a chicken pattie and continued to watch as it got progressively worse.  The rain danced across my swimming pool making the little rubber duck thermometer that floats there look as if there was someone draping some gossamer sheers past it in rapid succession.  The pool lost its sheen and the water’s surface became a uniform layer of grey from the droplets.

It was this time that I realized that this little storm would have the weather alert radio in Philadelphia sounding off about heavy storms and low visibility, but here in South Florida, the land of Hurricanes, nothing.

Then it began.  My little summer shower flexed its muscles.  While I had a mouth full of biscuit, chicken, and coffee, the world flashed brilliant white and the note of a giant bass drum sounded off.   The lights in the house flickered off, then on again.  My power conditioners snapped into use while the shoddy FPL infrastructure surged into the forefront of my consciousness. 

And the dog started to bark.  Barking from Mrs Dog is a rare thing.  Even when she was young she almost never barked.  I never quite understood why dogs bark at thunderstorms but it is a thing I’ve grown used to and accept as I have this wonderful creature living with me.   If she barks, I pay attention.  There’s a reason for that.

One dog trainer I read at some time in passing said “Make Storm Time, Fun Time”.  So I reached over onto the counter and found the Pumpkin Orange bottle of soap bubbles.  Now Lettie was barking for joy.  Not just one bark when the BOOM! happened, but a steady stream of baritone barks that showed she was really happy to play and take her mind off of the horrible maelstrom outside.

Not really a maelstrom, I can only imagine how she’ll be when we get a hurricane…

Holding the bubble wand near my lips I blew out a stream of about 20 bubbles and she leaps for joy snapping at each and every one while jumping like a puppy.  Reminding myself to blow bubbles out away from my body, I watched her ivory teeth chomp each impending bubble as a lightning strike happened with the BOOM! and she merely went on happily chomping away at soap.

I doubt that having a dog eat soap is a good thing, but the tiny amount that she gets in from snapping at bubbles and only occasionally getting one can’t be a life threatening situation, I swallowed more shampoo last night after I climbed out of the shower after using the pool.  She seems to enjoy it greatly, and its mental health benefits outweigh the little bit of soap that are in those shimmering spheres of soap that mysteriously fall from the sky.

Here we are, an hour and 45 minutes later, the storm is beginning to fade.   The sun is now higher in the sky, the Bahamas are sunny with only scattered red blobs over the radar near Freeport, over 60 miles away.  Our own rain storm will fade away into canine memory and the rainbow over Wilton Manors won’t be so redundant.

Poang Upgrade – The During

This is the second of the Poang Posts.   Since the first Ikea Poang Chair review I did was so popular I thought I’d do this and break this up into thirds.  Give you Poang Addicts something to read about.

The prior post showed you the before.   Here’s what it looks like during the shift over to the new Poang.  The brown frame is the bentwood frame that you get with all of the Poang Chairs.   The thing is amazingly sturdy, and mine is at this point over 7 months old since I bought it at a Thrift Store.  It looked used before I got it, but the frame was solid.   It has no creaks, no rattles, it is about as sturdy as you can get. 

The dog next to it is 48 pounds, and she likes the chair as well and will climb onto my lap while I’m on it.  That brings it up to about 275 pounds and it hasn’t collapsed yet.   The black fabric on the seat portion is a net that is used to hold the padding in place and give it some support without being hard like a brick.  Next to the chair is the leather seat padding that will replace the old beige flowery stuff that I had before.   Just like the old one, you can unzip the new leather seat and get the padding out so it can be cleaned.  There is a stripe of Velcro that you can see on the chair on the second horizontal bar from the top.  It is black, and it is probably the weakest link of the design.  It holds it in place but I have sat down in the chair and the Velcro has given away.  Not a big problem because at this point, the chair still holds the leather seat in place and I’ve had the new upholstery for about a month now.