The perils of embodiment.

I have long maintained that bodies are suboptimal vehicles with which to schlep minds around.

Most recent data point in support of this position: On Tuesday, I managed to hurt my knee in the course of grading papers. Grading papers! Come on now!

I guess it's also a data point in support of the hypothesis that if there exists an improbable way to injure oneself, I will manage to injure myself that way. (Ask me about the time I sprained my ankle stepping onto a bed.) However, if I weren't embodied, that wouldn't be the case.

* * * * *

Undoubtedly someone's going to want to know how grading papers resulted in a hurt knee, so here's what I think happened: I was sitting on a bed with a laptop and a clipboard on my lap, grading a bunch of online assignments. To create enough surface at the right height on which to balance both laptop and clipboard, I was sitting cross-legged. Apparently one of the knees was getting more than its share of the stress thusly distributed.

I anticipate I will be advised to sit at a table or desk like a sensible human being to get through long stretches of grading. The problem with doing that is that the available chairs in my Cave of Grading are hard enough that I can only count on about an hour and a half of grading before the pain in my butt from my "sits-bones" (as my Pilates instructor calls 'em) becomes unbearably distracting.

In short: bodies seem not to support grading as well as they might.

15 responses so far

  • bill says:

    Hamburgers. There's your answer, hamburgers. If your ass was fatter you could sit longer.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      Bill, you know I'm not a meat eater.

      Could see if tiramisu helps the sitting-in-a-proper-chair situation, though ...

    • joroncho says:

      This entry and resulting comments had me laughing all morning! Thanks.

      BTW - Sitting on hard surfaces for long periods of time; could this be an evolutionary pressure for the obesity epidemic!? After all - fat asses do allow for this, I can personally attest to it...

      • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

        That certainly seems like a hypothesis worth investigating: obesity not a mere consequence of our sedentary lifestyle but an adaptation to it!

  • Sit cross-legged, but only the clipboard OR the laptop in your lap at once. Hardcover text books make great laptop-in-bed stands. (My desk has been buried for 2 years now.)

  • I always thought of them as 'sitz-bones', with a vaguely Germanic sense.

  • HP says:

    Here's the thing: Sit upright in an ergonomic chair before a standard workstation. On your desk you have a pen and some scratch paper in addition to all the electronics.

    One day, the pen rolls onto the floor. Before you have time to think, you bend in your ergonomic chair and reach for the pen, which is just beyond your normal range of motion. As you congratulate yourself for picking up the pen, you feel something twinge in your shoulder.

    Five times in the last three years. About six weeks to recover each time. I am old.

  • xander says:

    My wife and I have been using lap desks (something like these: for years. They provide a nice flat surface for a laptop, and some of them are large enough for a clipboard, as well. If that doesn't work, you might also try one of those trays that are made for serving meals in bed. They set up across the lap, have more surface area than a standard lap desk, and are not as easily jostled.

  • fusilier says:

    You mean you don't throw the exams down the stairwell and ... oh, sorry, online assignments.


    James 2:24

  • MarkCC says:

    I knew there was a reason I liked you.

    I've sprained my ankle so many times that it's permanently damaged. The worst sprain, I had a good excuse: I was playing ultimate frisbee, and tripped in a gopher hole. But the second-worst... I fell, getting up out of a chair. Not a chair with wheels, mind you. Not a chair that rotated. A perfectly stable, completely immobile, four-legged chair.

    And then, limping out of the office to go to the emergency room to get it x-rayed, I fell down a flight of stairs, and managed to *also* sprain both my shoulder and my wrist. The emergency room nurse was *sure* I was lying about how it happened.

    • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

      Dude, I've fallen up flights of stairs. Not even gravity is willing to help keep me from grievous injury!

      Possibly more embarrassing than the knee injured by grading: throwing out my back and being unable to straighten up for like a day because I sneezed really hard before I had a chance to properly brace myself.

      Bodies: not doing the job I need them to.

  • Super Sally says:

    Obviously your body's warranty ran out years ago (probably about the time you needed crutches for injuring your knee getting out of bed).

    Normally, at this point you must decide whether it is worth getting the body repair work done or is it time to trade it in? If the engine is sound, go for the repairs.

    Get a desk and chair that WORK for you, and then keep it clear. Might I also suggest a large monitor to plug into? Could help....

    Is there a stair app so you could virtually throw the assignments up the stairs? To be fair, you'd have to find a 3-D stairway to handle the hardcopy assignments.

    Good luck!

  • physioprof says:

    You realize this makes you the Mariano Rivera of philosophy, right?

  • Rick Pikul says:

    Nah, you aren't that bad. Unless you have managed to send yourself to the hospital because you were explaining to someone why you had had to go to the hospital.

    For reassurance that you are not alone, go here:

  • dan says:

    Don't feel bad Janet.
    I've done the same thing to my knee a couple of times...
    You'd think I'd learn by now... ;>)