SPARC Stands Up!

Originally posted on the SPARCedge blog November 25th, 2014

I had a startling realization last week when I was working from home. I was sitting at a desk working on my computer, and I was restless. It bothered me until I got up and found myself eyeing furniture to put my computer on, stand up, and work. I’m almost embarrassed to admit: I missed my stand up desk so much that I built one so I could actually get some work done.

standupI had jobs in the past that required standing and relished every opportunity to sit. But maybe I wasn’t meant to be a desk jockey. If the first step is admitting you have a problem, here is mine: I am uncomfortable sitting at a normal desk. I am a stand up addict. But I’m not alone and my addiction may not be a problem, either.

Get More Face Time!

When I’m at my stand up, I feel like most of my time is spent less in front of a computer working, and more time collaborating. Jeremy Martin, doesn’t miss his ordinary desk: “While it’s nice to plop down on a couch from time to time, the longer I’ve had the stand-up desk the harder I find it to be without it. I’ve also found that when I’m already standing, I’m far more likely to find and talk to coworkers face-to-face, rather than simply shooting an email or instant message.”

Get Into A Groove

When you’re using a stand up, we’ve found that not only are you more likely to go find a colleague and chat face to face, but as Brandon Pierce found: “… I dance more, horribly and awkwardly, but significantly more.”

KelleyElderKelley Elder and I share a love of using a balance board while at the standing desk, and she summed it up nicely: “I get sick of sitting down at work all day, so the stand up desk is great… I love using it while standing on balance boards too, and feel better after work than when I was sitting all day.”

According to Keith Adamson, who is arguably one of the biggest health nuts in SPARC, said his favorite part about the standing desk is: “I’m dying less quickly. When you sit for the better part of your day your body literally starts turning itself off. Not just in a sleep mode, but it decreases organ function.”

Mike Van O’Linda said of his stand up desk: “I do enjoy my stand-up quite a bit, mostly because it provides a change of scenery, keeping things changing through the day breaks the monotony of the work day. Sitting at a regular desk still has its purposes though, mostly because my sit down area, at the moment, is a place I can go hide and hunker down to get some code done without much distraction.”

When I’m at my stand up, I feel acutely aware of how many extras are at my actual desk. While maybe not an addict, Bob Williams “lovingly longs” for his stand up, and has a great reason: “The individual expression of minimalism of so much in one place…no sprawl…all bags, notes, paper, drinks, cords, phones, compactly and conveniently arranged but still with individual character.”

How do you get stuff done? Do you use a standing desk? Want to get a desk at SPARC? Check out our open positions page!

Alligator Adoption

Originally posted on the SPARCedge blog on August 7th, 2014.

Dog friday has a competitor- alligator everyday.

S. Parcy Bowman the second (SPARK-eee) has been living in our pond for a couple of weeks now. It isn’t very big– two feet at the time of writing, or about the length of my arm. After hearing “well, I’m not worried about him, just his mom,” I decided to call a local gator getter, Ron. From my description, Ron said that Sparcy is probably from last year’s hatching, and that Momma Parcy is long gone. Sparcy is probably eating invertebrate larvae in the pond, so we should thank it for the decrease in bugs. (I’ll cancel my order of alligator chow.)

Ron confimed that alligators can fart.

I told Ron that the pond is pretty gross, but he told me that alligators have “real strong” immune systems, and that the pond, no matter how gross it looks to me, is a great nursery for Sparcy. Sparcy is here temporarily- in Ron’s words, “If that little guy can get in there, he can get himself out. He’ll outgrow his food supply and leave in the middle of the night and head towards a bigger pond. He’s alright.” I described SPARC’s location on Clements Ferry, and Ron said that the chances of Sparcy getting hit by a car are small: Ron could only remember one instance where an alligator was hit on Clements Ferry. Alligators are nocturnal for the most part, and when Sparcy would be moving the chances are that there wouldn’t be much traffic. There are also a lot of ponds that I didn’t know about on this side of the road, and that Sparcy would be more likely to pick a pond on this same side than cross the road.

Interestingly, once Sparcy hits the three foot mark, it’ll have a bite similar to a german shepherd. It only made me want to bring Sparcy to Dog Friday even more! I told Ron my dream of having Sparcy curl up underneath my sparceting desk, and he gently reminded me that catching an alligator is against the law, but still could do some damage to a finger if provoked. I will put my alligator dreams on hold… for now.

heeerreeee scaly scaly scaly

Need to know:

– Alligators are nocturnal. So be careful coming in early or staying past dusk on Dog Fridays with Fido.
– Sparcy got into our pond, it can get itself out. It’s here in a safe, secure, otherwise alligator-less environment to establish himself in a gator-eat-gator world.
– Don’t feed the gator! It’s eating invertebrae and bugs.
– It’s just a baby! It’s about one year old, so be gentle. It’s just a lil guy!
– Don’t worry about lil ol Sparcy. Just don’t go splashing around in the pond… although I don’t know why you would.



Originally published on the SPARCedge blog on June 18th, 2014.
I’ve been interning at SPARC for almost a month now, and I have started to slurp the kool-aid. I’ve been bragging about SPARC to my friends and colleagues at other jobs– as my best friend, Baillie, so eloquently said: “Damn it, now I want to work there.” I haven’t even told her that I rigged a second power strip so I can have my monitor and computer plugged in at the same time. (I’m easy to please.)

triangle of weirdnessI’m reassured that this is a pretty common phenomenon: you can’t tell significant others or friends about how awesome your job is, because the jealousy becomes a problem. Sorry, Baillie. #I’mnotactuallysorry


I’m starting to recognize more faces, and there are even newer hires now, somehow. I’m still working on names, but everyone seems to know mine. Hey, I read your blog! It’s amazing to be embraced as a team member, and it warms my English major heart that people actually read my writing.

Even SPARC CEO, Eric Bowman, recognized me when we officially met in person: “Oh, good, it’s about time someone around here could write.” (I guess having my profile picture show up as the blog icon helps to put a face to my name.)

Even on days I said I wouldn’t come in, I find myself waking up and coming in anyway. It’s the “Fear Of Missing Out,” not for college parties, but for the 9:00 a.m. check in with the marketing team. I want recaps for meetings I missed. I sign myself up for twelve hour days so that I don’t miss anything with my team. It’s unusual for me to text my boss about blogging competitions at 10 p.m., but even weirder* when he tweets at me that he won… a little past midnight.

it's on like donkey kong

*weirdunusual, but not unpleasant.


I’m getting paid for this?

#toogood #butstilltrue

Do you think you’d be a great fit for a new hire? Do you know someone who would be?
We’re always hiring.


Joining SPARC’s Shenanigans: An Intern’s First Week in Review.

Originally posted on the SPARCedge blog June 9th 2014

“So what’s next?” and “What are you doing now?”

It’s a rare specimen of recent college graduate who has a concrete answer for either question.

It’s the adult version of, “what are you going to be when you grow up?” Even as a kindergartener I was a skeptic, “You mean, one day I, me, Lauren, will be a grown up? And I can do whatever I want?” It’s asking, now that I am technically a legal adult, what did I decide I was going to be? It’s a question for someone exceptional, who decided what they wanted to do, went to school for it, and landed a career doing something they love.

After graduation, I didn’t – and still don’t – feel more grown up, and I definitely didn’t end up being a veterinarian specializing in big African cats. I went to school and love writing, but jobs are either in academia, publishing, or IT support. Most live hoping they’ll make it big enough to quit their day job. I was counting on being granted a MacArthur Fellowship just for existing. So like many of my peers, my answer to “what’s next?” was “You’re looking at it.”

internshipI Guess My Reading List Could Wait a Little Longer

Ten days after graduation, I was checking Facebook and saw a post from a friend who worked at SPARC. I had heard great things about the company, and every time I talked to him, he told me about how much he loved working at SPARC. So I responded on a whim, because after all, I had a day job and the entire summer to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. But a recruitment coordinator, Jill, responded within fifteen minutes, and I had a phone interview that hour, and a physical interview scheduled for the next day. It’s funny how opportunities can be hidden in a Facebook post.

Please Keep Your Limbs Inside the Vehicle at All Times…

I got to see the building, which is modern, beautiful, and out of this geeky girl’s dreams. It’s set up like a maze so that each team has their space, but they’re still open enough to be a resource for other teams (including some witty banter and some nerf dart throwing.) What had me hooked — besides the children’s bikes laying around and the ping pong table in the break room —was how happy all of the Team Members were. Yes, they were working hard, but there was happy chatter, laughter even, in the office.

…And Enjoy The Ride!

Everyone has been welcoming, stopping by my desk to say good morning, even reminding me that we had met before but they wanted to officially congratulate me on getting the internship. I am thrilled to join the SPARC family, who has immediately embraced me. I was given a desk next to my two leads, “Here, there’s even a spot for your weirdness to compliment ours.”  For the first time, I’m excited to go to an office. This may be the first week, but it won’t be the last. (Unless I get that call from the MacArthur Foundation.)

Want to join the SPARC team? If you’re interested in our monkey* business, check out our open positions here!

* Great Apes, Marvelous Marsupials, and Superb Sloths may also apply.