Adventures in Ethics and Science

As I noted earlier, the population density in my office at school decreased enough to free up some room for a couch. The original plan had been to adopt an ugly orange love seat from a colleague’s apartment, but it looks like the UOLS will be going in his office, since the couch he was planning to bring in for himself won’t fit his office.

So, I hied myself to IKEA and bought the maximum amount of couch that would fit in the trunk and folded-down back seat of my car. (If you must know, it’s a Prius. Not cavernous, but good with the mileage.) And seriously, if the flat-packed box of couch pieces had been even half an inch wider, I would not have been able to cram it into my car.

With the kind assistance of two students and a colleague, we got the couch to my office, whipped it out of the box, perused the non-verbal instructions (which seemed to suggest that the people assembling the couch should be naked while doing so — a suggestion that we ignored), and put that couch together. It fit perfectly into the bit of space that had opened up in my office.

Which is to say, that huge amount of extra space I was all excited about getting? Amounts to roughly the back of a Prius. How sad is that?


  1. #1 JM
    August 18, 2006

    Ooh, but I can’t wait to see it!

  2. #2 Thomas Winwood
    August 18, 2006

    Reading instructions for flatpack furniture is like scientific research; you have to use every tool at your disposal to work out which features of what you’re looking at are important (like screwing a screw in a particular side of a piece of plywood) and which can safely be discarded when starting work (for example, the state of undress of the fictional workers).

  3. #3 Rob Knop
    August 18, 2006

    I just (two days ago) got a Prius. It looks cavernous to me! Of course, this is the biggest car that I’ve driven in a long time. Our other car is a Ford Focus, and the PoJ I’m replacing is a 1993 Mustang LX. I like the hatchback cars where you can put down the seats and haul a lot of stuff…. The Prius fits that very well. And it does feel bigger to me than any car I’ve driven since early grad school.

    I’m surprised your department chair hasn’t come by and said, “Hmm, room for a couch in here, eh? That means there’s room to move another person in!”


  4. #4 Janet D. Stemwedel
    August 18, 2006

    But it was the department chair who fought for the additional offices so we could be less tightly packed. (The theory seems to be that a happier department will be easier to manage or something.)

    I agree that for many applications, the Prius hauling capacity is more than adequate. For a couch? Not so much. (All but two of the couches IKEA sells would have been too big, most of them way to big.)

  5. #5 Kim
    August 19, 2006

    Sad to say, but instructions for furniture assembly must be written by people who never actually have to put the stuff together! I’ve set up my home office twice now, and all of the exploded diagram instructions have been useless. At least the company that I got them from had an 800 number to call if you were really stumped….but what would they have told me if I called? Would I hear “take that silver thingy and insert it backwards into the desk side panel…yeah, that is the piece labeled Part XXX…” or would I get some understandable help?

    A strange aside – My husband, an explorations geologist, has almost negative 3-D visualization skills! Even though he successfully spends his time thinking about where things are underground without digging them up, I’m the one in our family who puts together furniture, kids’ toys, and fixes the faucets, as he can’t read one of those instruction sheets to save his own life….go figure!

  6. #6 Rob Knop
    August 19, 2006

    But it was the department chair who fought for the additional offices so we could be less tightly packed. (The theory seems to be that a happier department will be easier to manage or something.)

    Well that’s good. The dept. chair of our department also seems to be on the side of the angels.

    Just don’t let any deans or anything get a look at it. Or, at any rate, the people in the dean’s office who were hired to be the beancounters.


  7. #7 ArtK
    August 22, 2006

    Kim… it all depends on your ability to do spatial work — my 10yo is an absolute whiz at IKEA furniture. I could probably farm him out as a consultant.

    Dr. F-R: Isn’t it amazing — your office space was exactly the right size for that couch; almost as if it had been designed that way. Must be the noodly appendage of the FSM at work.

  8. #8 Douglas Storm
    August 22, 2006

    the prius is said to have the internal room of the camry…my father, who is 6’2″ and about 270 lbs actually finds it comfortable and has head-room.

    The best mileage I’ve seen on a whole tank is 48 and the most I’ve ever averaged at any point during a tank’s worth of driving is 52.


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