“Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

Tom Lehrer asked that satirical question several decades ago, and it’s become a standard catch-phrase in American English.  Yesterday’s Dilbert comic strip brought it forcefully to mind.  (Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the strip’s Web site.)

Scott Adams has a wonderful knack for expressing workplace stupidity in graphic terms.  I’ve tried several allegedly “ergonomic” items of office and computer furniture that reminded me of nothing so much as a well-made brick.  Comfortable, they weren’t;  and some caused actual physical injury through forcing parts of my body to conform to what they wanted.

The only “ergonomic” office purchase I’ve never regretted was buying a Herman Miller Aeron task chair, about fourteen years ago, after my partly-disabling spinal injury.  It’s been a life-saver when spending hours on end writing at my computer.  It was expensive (it cost me more when I bought it than it does today, which is a testament to outsourced manufacturing, I suppose), but it’s proved to be worth every penny.  All my books have been written from (or in) that chair – and almost everything on this blog, of course.  No, I’m not being paid or compensated for recommending it – it’s just so good that it’s earned my personal seal of approval.



  1. If you're planning on spending a lot of time sitting, a quality chair that meets your requirements… Pays for itself, and will do so for years to come.


  2. (it cost me more when I bought it than it does today, which is a testament to outsourced manufacturing, I suppose)

    Or it's a testament to them being successful. An "iron law" of manufacturing is that the more you make, the cheaper things get, due to efficiencies and the quantity discounts they bring. Generally, doubling the quantity you make drops the price about 25%. And that's a "compound interest" situation. Double your quantity, they're 25% cheaper. Double that and they're 56% of the starting price.

  3. Aeron chairs are freaking amazing. Mine is 10 years old and it's still in perfect shape and every bit as comfortable (hint: VERY comfortable) as it was the day I bought it. One of the best purchases I've ever made in my life, despite the high cost.

  4. I tend to slump in my chair, oozing down over time. Drives the ergonomics people crazy when they happen to pass by. They say I need this chair, that desk, the other computer. My reply? "But I'm COMFORTABLE!"

  5. I'm a sloucher. I'm also fairly tall. Of the 5 chairs in the office right now, I can only sit in 1 for any length of time. The rest are too short for me and my knees and thighs start to hurt after a couple of hours. One is even an Aeron, and I find that one to be the most uncomfortable.

    Of all the ergonomic contraptions they've had us try, there are two that I like. The best one is the adjustable height desk where you can sit or stand. Unfortunately we can't use that in dispatch because we have monitors stacked three high and we wouldn't be able to see the bottom ones if the desk was raised. The second best contraption I've tried was a chair with a kneeboard. It's the only chair I've ever tried that kept my posture correct while also being comfortable.

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