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DIY Standing Computer Desk

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Health, How To | 0 comments

DIY Standing Desk

I’m not a big fan of heart attacks and I definitely want to avoid back problems. There are a growing number of studies showing how bad sitting all day is for you. The animated video below lists a number of the problems that are caused . (Also see below for what you need to build one yourself)

Unfortunately, I still have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer nearly everyday. When I first learned about people using standing desks I wanted to give it a try. At the time, I knew I would be moving soon and so I never did. I have recently moved to Hawaii and I needed a way to create two work spaces in our condo. There is one built in desk and not a lot of room. The perfect chance to build a standing desk.

Since we are planning to move in the near future, I decided to create something that I can use now as a computer desk and later as a book case. As you will see, there are a couple disadvantages to doing it this way. The advantage is that I can try it out, and if I don’t like it, I end up with a book case. If I do like it, I will be able to still turn this one into a book case and build an even better one later.

DIY Standing Desk FullThe biggest disadvantage is that a bookcase isn’t quite deep enough. Ideally you want your screen about 20-28″ away from your face.  Because a book case is only 12″ deep, my screen sits about 12″ away from my face. I think I can fix this by adding an extension to the keyboard/mouse shelf. Luckily, the screen I am currently using is very small and 12″ isn’t too bad. In fact, 20-28″ might be a little too far away.

I wanted to keep the design as clean as possible, so I used dowels and glue for the joints. This means that my shelves aren’t adjustable. I recommend that you choose a way to make your shelves adjustable. You may find that the shelves shouldn’t go where you thought they should (my computer was sitting to high when I first tested it). Adjustable shelves will also allow multiple people to use the desk.

How I Built it

I had two main goals with this desk/bookshelf. First was price. I didn’t want to spend very much since this would be a tester desk. No reason to spend a lot of money and then hate it. The second was future usability. This would only be used temporarily as a desk, and for much longer as a bookshelf.


There are a number of types of prebuilt shelves you can buy that will work just as good as this. The reason I decided to build my own was cost and aesthetics. I’m not a big fan of particle wood.

  • 3- 1″ x 12″ x 6′ wooden boards
  • wood screws or wooden dowels

I had Home Depot cut one of the boards lengthwise into 4 even pieces to become the legs and the other two pieces cut in half to become the shelves. I measured out where I wanted to put the shelves, drilled the holes, installed the dowels, and then glued it all together. Pretty simple. It’s not perfect, but it works for now. I will put a clear protective coat over it once I have had a chance to sand it.

Altogether the supplies cost about $40.

What would I do differently

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not quite deep enough. It really needs to be about 24-30″ to make this work with a larger screen. I think I could make this current design work, by adding a slide out piece for the keyboard and mouse. I also think I would go a little bit wider. I often work with two monitors and that might get a little tight in this space.

The other thing I would add is a “wrap around” for more desk space. A place for writing and filling out documents, and maybe someplace to put a drink..

Other than that, I am actually quite pleased with it.

Alternate Idea

I enjoy working with my hands and really wanted to make something. If you wanted something more simple, and something that will still be usable later, then I think a heavy duty storage rack will work great. The shelves are adjustable, they have a smooth shelves, and they come with decent dimensions (though maybe a little too shallow). If you don’t like the desk, use can still use the shelving in your garage or pantry.

Alternative DIY Standing Desk

Sitting or standing

It’s still too early to tell. So far though, I really like it. Leaving and returning to the desk is much easier and it does seem to keep me more active. Not that I am leaving my computer more often, but I do tend to move around more. When I do have to leave the desk however, it is easier to get back to work.

The first day my legs were a little tired, but I seem to be getting used to it now. I am sure that my posture is much better.

DIY Desk Using Pallets

If you want a simple, cheap, DIY sit down desk, check out this desk I made a while back out of pallets. I think the whole thing cost me about $25.

DIY Computer Desk




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Fixing Back, Shoulder, and Neck Pain

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

Photo by Suze Duke

Photo by Suze Duke

I injured my shoulder when I was in high school. I was learning Karate at the time and we were practicing throws. The person I was training with threw me; my arm went, but my body didn’t. My shoulder has never been the same since.

I have tried stretching, strengthening, acupuncture, and massage all to no avail. My shoulder feels better immediately after, but the pain comes back. The pain doesn’t necessarily come from using it too much. A lot of the time, it will start hurting when I am shopping or even just standing.

Then it finally came to me. The initial pain came from an injury, but the chronic pain was coming from something else: bad posture. I don’t know exactly where the bad posture came from ( I would guess two decades of carrying a heavy backpack didn’t help), but it is something I can fix.

I am now doing more stretching and exercising focused on my upper back and shoulders. I think the biggest change, though, is that I am aware of it. Every time I go to the bathroom I take a look in the mirror and fix it (pushing out my chest and extending my upper body seems to do it). I also think about it when I walk, when I run, when I shop, and when I am talking or waiting.

I can’t say yet that I am cured, but I can say that the pain in my shoulders and neck have lessened. I have also noticed that when there is pain, I can reduce it by by simply fixing my posture.

Next time you are in front of a mirror take a look t your own posture. Are your shoulders slanting, your neck bowed forward, and your chest caving in? It is likely causing a lot of your shoulder and neck pain, and likely giving you headaches. Don’t let it!

****Update 11/16/2013****

After writing this article I came across this great video. It is a very simple 3 minute with exercises that really work well. Give them a try and you will see what I mean.


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New home, new diet, new life!

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Hawaii, Health, Travel | 0 comments

Photo by Matt McGee

Photo by Matt McGee

It’s been quite a while since I have written here on Simplistic Thoughts. There are a number of reasons for the hiatus. There have been many things that I wanted to blog about, but never was able  to do so because of the big changes in my life.

For the last 5 years I have been living in Miyakojima (a small island of Okinawa). My wife and I moved there after we had enough of the busy life in Tokyo. It’s an absolute beautiful place with some of the best beaches in the world and a very unique culture (the video in the top right corner of the page is of pictures I took in the first year). We loved it!

We were also able to do amazing things and have incredible experiences while we were there. My wife worked as an English trainer for the teachers and learned hula and lei making. I taught English, did internet marketing, learned the sanshin (an Okinawan banjo) and the ukulele, and tried a number of diets and exercise routines. We also ran a half-marathon, went diving and snorkeling, cave exploring, and volunteered at various events. Most importantly, we made great friends. Sounds like paradise right?

Unfortunately, Miyakojima is a small island and doesn’t provide a lot of opportunity. Jobs are few and the types of jobs available are even more limited. While there we also began to start eating more healthy. We switched to a more vegetable rich diet and since then have switched again to a complete whole foods plant based diet. For those of you who have been in Japan, you know how expensive (and difficult to get) a lot of vegetables and fruits are.

However, it was really the plans to start a family that finally made us decide to move back to the US. I moved back to California in May to look for a job with a university while my wife waited for her green card.

It was  a difficult transition for me. I left most of my friends, and being back in California was a bit of culture shock. The area had grown so much in the eight years I was gone. I realized that to live in the area I had planned, I would have about an hour and a half commute to work everyday. I also missed the subtropical weather of Miyakojima.

I looked at moving to the surrounding states, but none of them really seemed like a good place for me. It was actually my father who first suggested Hawaii. We had planned to move to Hawaii for a short span of a couple years in the future, but I never really considered it as a main home….until then. The more I researched, the more it seemed perfect to meet our needs. It is in the US, but we can still get a lot of the Japanese products and foods we are used to. The weather is warm year round and it is located in between our two families. Could a place really work out for us this well?

After waiting four more months for my wife’s green card, we met (her coming from Tokyo and me from California) at Hilo airport just a few weeks ago. I will save the slightly crazy story of the first week of our arrival for another time, but we our now settled.

We have a very small apartment, our car has Hawaii plates, we are getting used to the area, and hopefully will have locked down jobs in the close future! So far, we love it here! Now that things are a little more settled, I will be writing more often. There are so many things I have learned and experienced that I can’t wait to share!

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7 Days of Juicing: Day 3 (Final Day)

Posted by on Apr 5, 2012 in Health | 2 comments

I am happy to report that after the first two days, day three gets easier. Day two was especially hard. I had a headache, no energy, my stomach was unsettled, and I ended up sick. By day three most of that had gone away. I didn’t really have any cravings, I felt much better, my skin had gotten really clear, and I had more energy.

I did decide however that I wouldn’t continue for the full 7 days. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t getting enough calories to maintain my normal workout. While the juice did make me more active and alert, I couldn’t sustain that energy through a workout.

I won’t be stopping juicing however. Instead, I will be supplementing it with other meals.

For anyone who is interested in doing this to clean out their system or lose some weight, I would say go for it. I really do feel that my body is in better shape after doing so.

You can see my final update video below. For some reason, the video was dropping frames while I was recording which messed up the video a little bit and also distracted me.

Please leave comments or questions.


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7 Days of Juicing #2

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in Health | 0 comments

Day one was basically no problem. Drinking the juice was pretty easy, I felt pretty good, and I didn’t have too many side effects.

Day two is turning out to be a little different. The night after the first day I ended up with a very sore throat, a slight temperature, and didn’t get much sleep. I’m not sure the cause, but maybe it was my body’s reaction to the toxins leaving my body? By morning the temperate had gone, but part of the sore throat remained. I also had a bit of a headache. I don’t really get headaches, so I am pretty sure that is from the juicing. As I write this post  at 6pm the headache is mostly gone.

My stomach is also a little unsettled, and I have very little energy today. I can still drink the fruit juices no problem, but the vegetable juices are getting a little harder to get down. On the good side, I have less cravings for unhealthy food.

I think the biggest thing is that I am just getting so few calories and it is a shock to my body.

I’ve heard people say that they have gotten really smelly when they started juicing, but so far I haven’t had much change in body odor. I did notice that the first day my urine had various strong smells, but that seems to have gone away at this point.

I have decided that I will be changing from 7 days to 3 days though. Having so few calories makes it very difficult to keep up with my workout schedule. I am worried that if I move too much I will end up with a major headache.

You can find the review of my first day below:


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7 Days of Juicing: DAY 1 (Videos)

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Health | 0 comments

I’m almost finished with my first day of juicing (1 more juice to go). The majority of the juices I made were pretty good. The last, which included coconut milk, avocado, celery, banana, spinach, and a carrot was pretty horrible.

How do I feel? I’m not quite sure yet. I feel energetic, but I also feel like I don’t have enough energy. That probably has to do with better calories, but far fewer of them. The thing I have noticed the most is that I tend to feel full for a long time after, but I never feel lethargic. It’s only been one day though so I guess I will see how I feel tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are the first two videos I made of the first and second juice. I am speaking in Japanese, but there really isn’t that much talking.


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