What's in My Bag

What’s in my desk? — Frank H. Wu


What’s in my desk? issue #99

I’m an educator and author who moved recently from San Francisco to Queens, New York. During the pandemic, the norm has been work-from-home. — Frank H. Wu


About the desk

Here is what is on my desk in the home office at my apartment in Queens. A good environment produces good work. The desk itself is about as simple as could be, with a “topper” my wife commissioned from a carpenter on Etsy, so as to bring the keyboard up to a good height or even to stand up with the second layer affixed. An inlay shows the silhouettes of our late dogs, Buster and Ding Ding, and our late bird, Little Walter (named for the blues musician). I’ve tried to limit my consumer spending to what is necessary as well as unique, which I am confident I will use regularly. These objects satisfy the test.

What’s in the desk

Hyperdrive 18 port hub ($199). This accessory connects an Apple laptop to everything. It would be difficult to imagine more means to plug in than are offered here. For me, it drives two monitors, an external keyboard with old-school mechanical switches, a Yealink speaker for the Zoom conferences which fill the day, and Grado headphones for the music in the evenings, with a slot for digital camera memory cards (when I have time for my hobby of photography), not to mention serving as a pass through power adapter for the MacBook and allowing several other devices to recharge as well.

Rotring mechanical pencil ($28). I always wanted to be an architect when I was young. I loved mechanical pencils and real “lead holders,” but the Rotring was one of those fancy items I wouldn’t have been able to afford. Its industrial design is minimalist and the manufacturing is high-quality, for a tool that seems timeless and unbreakable. Each aspect is functional: a knurled grip on the hexagonal barrel, an indicator for the lead hardness, and a tiny eraser hidden under the cap.

National Brand lab notebook ($12). Although I rely on a computer all day, along with an iPhone and an iPad, I prefer the analog life of jotting down thoughts in ink on paper. The sheets in this hardbound volume are tinted green, which they claim is easier on the eyes; the texture is smooth, with enough thickness to avoid “bleed through” to the other side. I’m old enough to have attended college before laptop computers and the internet, much less smart phones, so there wasn’t a digital option. Afraid they would stop making this product, I bought a lifetime supply years ago, and I’m still working my way through the stack, at the rate of one notebook per year. Since I still consider myself a writer, I love that the pages are numbered.

Wiss scissors, titanium coated ($18). These are sharp and tough, good characteristics for anything and anyone. I wouldn’t have expected scissors to be heirlooms, but I have no doubt that when I shuffle off my mortal coil this purchase will still be around for somebody to grab. I have backup scissors in the belief that two are one and one is none, which are fluoride treated blunt tipped hospital shears, suitable for sanitizing in an autoclave.


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