Lap Desk?

It’s apparently a good day for asking questions of the readership, so here’s another one: as SteelyKid has gotten older and more active, she’s become a real drain on productivity, especially at bedtime. Bedtime is now a process rather like a certain spoof book, extending well over an hour, and involving repeated requests to come back into her room for some silly reason or another. If I don’t respond quickly enough, she’ll work herself up into a real tantrum, so I pretty much need to stay upstairs in our bedroom until she’s asleep. Which means either I can’t get any work done, or I have to try to do work on my laptop in bed, which is wrecking my neck.

Thus, I’m looking to get some sort of lap desk type thing that would allow me to work on the computer in bed without doing myself harm. There are a nearly infinite variety if lap desks for sale out there, but it’s sort of hard to distinguish between them based only on web sites. Thus, if anybody has relevant experience and would like to recommend a solution for this, well, you know where the comments are.

Comments

  1. #1 Colin McFaul
    February 1, 2012

    We purchased two of the Realspace Split-Top Mobile Laptop Cart from our local Office Depot for the same purpose.

    http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/366999/Realspace-Split-Top-Mobile-Laptop-Cart/

    The vertical support is off-center, which is really nice for us. Our bed is on risers, so when the vertical support is up against the side of the bed, my laptop is directly above my body. The part of the table that the laptop sits on pivots forwards and backwards, so I can set it to a comfortable position for my neck. Finally, it’s height-adjustable, so it works just as well when I’m sitting in a chair as it does when I’m sitting up in bed. The big drawback is that there isn’t any way that I’ve found to position it such that it doesn’t kill my wrists, but I don’t know if there’s any way of getting around that with this sort of product.

  2. #2 reesei
    February 1, 2012

    Move in a chair for the duration?

    Beds are not ergonomic for typing, no matter what I have tried. Best I’ve ever done is to construct a really nice pillow-nest to support my back and neck, then rest a laptop against my knees. This killed my wrists instead of my neck.

    If you are just reading, that is another matter, because you don’t have to worry about your wrists as much.

  3. #3 Thisbe
    February 1, 2012

    Basic principles of operant conditioning suggest that providing positive reinforcement (your presence/attention) when an undesirable behavior is performed (fussing/demanding/tantrum) will lead to increased frequency of performance of the undesirable behavior.

    A technique possibly of interest here would be the one where you provide the positive reinforcement consistently but without waiting for the undesirable behavior to prompt it; this leads to a dissociation of expectation and an eventual decrease in the frequency of undesirable behavior.

    An alternative way of thinking about this is that YOU are being operant conditioned. The classic setup in which a negative stimulus (fussing/tantrum) is provided and removed only when you perform the desired behavior (attention/presence).
    :)
    Conditioning is pretty effective if you are buying furniture and reorganizing your evening schedule to accomodate!

  4. #4 Sili
    February 1, 2012

    I hear Benadryl works wonders.

    Personally, I’m a traditionalist, so my recommendation would be Laudanum.

  5. #5 Vince Whirlwind
    February 2, 2012

    I would suggest the “alternative” version of Laudanum: pick a book of interest to the child and which is not entirely devoid of interest to yourself and read it aloud until the child falls asleep.
    The reading you perform provides a distraction to the child’s behaviour and they lie there quietly and passively which puts them to sleep.

    I like to start with a good Dr Suess, which engages the child and is fun for the adult (Fox in Sox being my current favourite), then follow that up with a story in language that is sufficiently challenging to provide the distraction. Like “The Hobbit”. Or “Les Malheurs de Sophie”.
    (*NOT* any of that insane crap by Lewis Carroll.)

  6. #6 Art
    February 3, 2012

    For years I used a 30″ length of scrap southern yellow pine 2by12 with legs made of the same material lagged in with a couple galvanized lags through the top into the end grain. I stapled on a grippy foam mesh manufactured as shelf liner. After a while I screwed on a 2″ wide bit of 1by fore and aft to act as a fiddle to keep my pen from rolling off. Later on a lark I drilled a few 3/8″ holes with a lamp drilling bit into the ends to give me a place to store a pen and pencil. I always intended to finish it but never got round to it so it developed a nice patina of spilled coffee and scratches. I used to clean it every few months by hosing it off. Good thing I used Monel staples.

    I liked my lap desk because it had a reassuring heft that helped it stay steady. It was also sturdy enough to be used as a bludgeon if need be. I sometimes used it as a step-stool and think it would hold up a truck. Always a fine set of attributes. Being essentially free, I had the wood, hardware and shelf liner mesh, and a DIY project, was good.

    It was so good that it wandered off the last time I moved.