Why I spent $350 on a keyboard I cannot use

Rethinking my environment's interactions with my health

Hi friends,

Thanks to everyone who has checked on me the last few weeks. I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with work and when I haven’t been working I’ve been trying to enjoy life getting back to normal. I appreciate all of you letting me know how much you missed the Reccs! Very touching.


Why I spent $350 on a keyboard I cannot use

This past week I received a new keyboard in the mail. It is called the “Moonlander” and, depending on how you feel about these types of things, it either looks really cool or really dorky:

It was more money than I ever expected to spend on a keyboard, and I cannot use it. At least, not well, not yet.

Astute readers may have noticed in the image above two distinctive qualities of the keyboard: it is split (meaning it comes in two half-sized keyboards) and it is ortholinear (meaning the keys are in staggered columns, not staggered rows as you might see on your phone or laptop). This ortholinear design is what makes it very difficult to use if you’re habituated to regular keyboards.

So why did I spend so much on it?

I bought it as an investment in my health. This purchase is a part of a larger rethinking I have been doing about a murky space of “preventative health” between healthy habits and ergonomics.

You see, the split design allows you to keep your shoulders square and your wrists straight, and the ortholinear keys reduces the stretch your fingers make. In the long run, I expect this to lower my probability of (1) back and neck pain from slouching and (2) repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome from the unnatural act of typing hours a day, 6 days a week.

I say it is a murky space because buying the keyboard clearly is not a healthy habit, as it is not repeatable, such as going for a walk every 2 hours or eating a salad every day. Further, it confers little to no immediate health benefit, as these things would.

It was not really in the realm of ergonomics, either, in that I didn’t do it for my comfort today, I did it as a preventative measure to ensure my comfort in the future.

I think of it more like buying extra floss to have at the office and at home. It induces me to do something good for my health (fix my posture, not strain my fingers and wrists) that will serve me in the long term without a clear primary immediate benefit. Flossing makes my teeth feel nice and clean, sure, but the real reason I do it is to possibly prevent periodontitis and comorbidities. Relatedly, I buy several more workout outfits than I need because I never want to avoid a workout (which are themselves a type of preventative measure) just because I haven’t done the laundry.

Would love to hear some creative ways folks are investing in similarly “preventative” measures for their health.


The Links

  1. An AI made some music* I particularly like this “completion” of Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” which has a wild drop at 0:28.

  2. Goodbye cheap Ubers* There’s this crazy business model that Uber and Doordash made mainstream of trying to lose way more money than your competitors. The short of it is that you way undercut your competitors, losing money on every transaction, but possibly gaining a bunch of loyal customers. If you do this well enough, you’ll be wildly successful at losing money and then can force other businesses out of competition or customers to stick with you out of habit. Later on, you raise the prices and become profitable. We seem to have reached the “raise the prices” bit of the model for many high-growth companies. I don’t think it is any coincidence that we’re also in a period where Uber & co. can blame the price hikes on labor shortages. (S/o Jeff Severts)

  3. Bowling balls are weird on this inside* I know nothing about the intricacies of bowling. I still really enjoyed this (very) long read on a man whose life was spent trying to optimize the inside of bowling balls.

  4. Cameras are almost too good?* You don’t even need to take photos anymore. With 30fps you can just take a video and choose the frame you want.

  5. How a sewing machine works*A ton of incredible graphics on this website (NB the video does not have audio)

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Lagniappe

I have been reading The Overstory by Richard Powers these last few weeks. While I haven’t finished it, I still strongly recommend it. Remarkably powerful stuff.

One of the most heart-wrenching parts of the book explores the (nonfictional) decimation of ~4 billion American chestnut by blight. Before they nearly disappeared they were giant, beautiful trees that spanned almost the whole eastern US. There are some efforts currently underway to re-populate their natural range with blight-resistant chestnuts.


Graph(s) of the week

  1. [WSJ] News about inflation has been pretty silly lately. Yes, we are seeing high inflation relative to a year ago, but we also had dawdling inflation this time a year ago. So, on net, we are seeing pretty normal inflation over a 2-year span.

    S/o to Aren Rendell, who made this argument to me a few weeks before WSJ published this graph.

  2. [WSJ] Further, we’re seeing that inflation expectations are pretty stable in their historical range. Back on December 12th, I told y’all that we would experience this current period of inflation and that it would prove to be very temporary. I still believe that very strongly.

    Truly, I am hoping we can all stop talking about inflation soon. It is such a boring debate and continuing to talk about inflation “having arrived” is itself a self-reinforcing, dumb cycle, as a major component of inflation relies on people believing there is inflation.

  3. [Pew] Americans are at an all-time high in supporting immigration. This is good news as immigration is a necessary component to enduring economic growth and rising living standards amid falling birth rates.

  4. [Economist] Non-white soccer players do better without the fans, on average. But superstars of all races seem to perform worse.


Keep the faith,

Harrison