I have been, and always shall be…your depressing Christmas tree decoration


Review: Tuft & Needle 10″ Foam Mattress (The *NEW* version!)


Yup, a king size mattress came in that little box. Though FedEx decided to beat up the box, the mattress was unharmed.

Hey everyone! I’m back with a new review of the new version of Tuft & Needle’s 10″ foam mattress. So many of you interneted your way to my review of the older version of their mattress they asked if I’d be willing to do another review of their new mattress if they sent one to me. Obviously I jumped at the chance. The timing coincidentally worked out perfectly because we just bought our first house and were looking to upgrade from our queen size T&N mattress to a king. As a disclaimer: though the mattress was provided for free, my conclusions and opinions are unbiased and my own. I’m happy to promote quality products, especially those made in the US. Also, I love sleep; and a comfortable mattress is divine.

This time around I did one better and made a comprehensive video review. I covered everything from some info about the company, to their 100 day sleep trial, plus unboxing, inflating, and a quick look at laying on it. Oh, and I tossed in a quick 1.5+ year update on the first T&N mattress – you’ll be happy to know it’s comfortable as the day we got it.

To learn more about Tuft & Needle mattress, please check out their website. I’ll write a little more below the video, too, including what’s changed since my first review.

Check it out!

So if you’re still on the fence about whether a T&N mattress is right for you, my suggestion would be to pull the trigger. You’ve got 100 days (that’s over 3 months!) to test sleep on it and make a decision. If your body doesn’t agree with it, just contact T&N and you can send it packing.

So what’s changed since my first review in June of 2014…

  • Tuft & Needle no longer offers a 5″ mattress. Personally, I never saw the point of such a thin mattress so I can’t say that will have much impact on anyone.
  • The foam and make of the mattress has changed a bit. The version we ordered in 2014 is no longer made, hence the *NEW* Version in this post’s title. The short of it is – T&N developed a new type of foam that would appeal to a wider

    Slide the mattress right out of the box.

    variety of sleepers. This also resulted in a slight price increase. You can read about all the specific details about this RIGHT HERE. I think each mattress went up about $50-$100.

  • The mattress is a bit more cushy on top. To me, the older version was a more firm (which I prefer), while still being plenty forgiving. You sank into it just enough while still getting excellent support. The new foam is thicker and definitely gives more, however I’ve found that it still gives me the firmness I desire. It definitely feels different than at Tempur-Pedic – so if you don’t like how those memory foam mattresses feel then don’t worry here.
  • The trial period has increased dramatically from 30 days to 100 days.

Things that haven’t changed since my first review in June of 2014…

  • #1 rated mattress on Amazon
  • 2015 Consumer Reports Best Buy
  • Still hand made in the USA
  • Still damn comfortable
  • Still incredibly less expensive than buying a foam mattress at a mattress store. A queen size Tempur-Pedic mattress starts at $2000. The price is comparable to regular spring mattresses, and what you get here is so much more.

The mattress comes vacuum packed. Watch it inflate before your eyes!

I think #1 complaint I hear from people whom I recommend T&N too is “how could you buy a mattress online – you can’t lay on it to test it before spending the money?!” That’s a pretty dumb excuse to not take a chance. Can you really believe that laying a 10 different mattresses in a store for 45 seconds at a time is going to tell you how it will feel during an actual night’s sleep – or after 6 months? No, of course not. You’re still gambling. I’ve slept on a regular mattress for almost all my life. I’ve slept on a Tempur-Pedic mattress a few times (I don’t care for how they feel). And I’ve slept on those god-awful monstrosities of uncomfortableness known as pillow-tops. Take my word for it – this is worth the gamble.

Poke around the T&N website for a little while and read about the company, and how the mattresses are designed and built. We did extensive research before buying ours last year and are still confident we made the right decision.

Well folks, there ya go! I hope between the video, this post, and their website we’ve helped you narrow down your choices for a new mattress. If you have any questions please feel free to leave one in the comments. Or if you’ve ordered a T&N mattress based on my recommendation I’d also love to hear about it!

Stay Tuned….

‘The Old Way’ vs Common Core (AKA: How to math) (AKA: This picture pisses me off)

IMG_0916I want you to take a look at this picture. This picture makes me angry.

Very angry.

I don’t know if it’s photoshopped or if it’s real. I found it on a friend’s feed on Facebook this morning, and there was already a small listing of comments between folks debating what is shown in this photo. I of course chimed in, being a [former] teacher of elementary school myself.

Take a second, and solve the problem – see which answer you get.


The correct answer is 16.

But this picture is incredibly, and inexcusably misleading.

The answer is not 16 because the new Common Core curriculum gave us new, proper math. And despite what the picture says, both answers are not equally correct (in fact that makes zero sense). It’s because of my dear Aunt Sally, and your ability to kindly please excuse her.

Did I lose you? Sorry. Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. PEMDAS, or, Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction – or, Order of Operations.

20 / 5 (2 * 2), do parentheses first so the problem becomes 20 / 5 (4)

But the rules of order of operations states that given only multiplication and division (same for addition and subtraction), you work left to right. You do not do the multiplication first just because M comes before D in PEMDAS.

So, working left to right, it becomes 4 (4).
Then multiply, and get 16.

If you incorrectly did the multiplication first, multiplying the 5 and the 4, you’d get 20 / 20, which equals the 1 shown in the picture. But that is incorrect order of operations, and incorrect math.

It is not incorrect because that is how ‘the old way’ taught it. It’s incorrect because you didn’t pay attention to the details of PEMDAS.

The big to-do about Common Core is that is supposedly introduces alternate critical thinking and problem solving skills – because there was something wrong with the ones already being taught? I went through elementary school in the mid/late 80’s, and graduated high school in 1999. I’m a product of ‘the old way,’ like all my friends – and guess what – I’m a damn good problem solver. We all are. I knew how to read and solve a word problem be understanding clues in 5th grade. When I taught 5th grade (for 5 years), they didn’t know that “how many more” meant they needed to subtract. They didn’t know their multiplication facts immediately. They still did addition on their fingers. 

The cause of this is two-fold:
1) So much emphasis being put on testing and preparing for the end-of-year tests leaves little wiggle room for exploring subject matter. It’s a get it done get it done get it done next learning standard world in the classroom these days. If some kids don’t get it, too bad we have to move on, and those kids can go to remediation class, or something. (Large emphasis on the “or something” because really we have no more TAs, and don’t want them pulled out of other subjects for remediation in another.) There’s no time to pause and ‘go deeper,’ even though that’s some of what Common Core purports to do. Teacher’s fear the tests because it effects their evaluations.
2) Common Core’s apparent lack of support for rote memorization. I don’t care what kind of problem solvers you think you’re making, but in order to solve those problems, students need to know that 6×5=30 without even thinking twice about it. Drill drill drill. Memorize. Parents make them memorize other important things – their phone number, address, stranger danger, etc etc. Why not the simple math skills required to function in the world?

One of the major problems of Common Core is that is pushes age-inappropriate learning requirements. We’re giving tests to Kindergarteners now? Unbelievable. The youngest learners learn the most through exploration learning. Common Core twists those formative years into rigidly structured test prep again. (Not to mention a teacher’s evaluation being tied to how well at 5 year old does on a standardized test….) ((let that sink in))

Common Core is supposed to enhance critical thinking skills. Well, as it’s followed the first class of students up through the grade levels (introducing a new grade level to it each year as it went along), by the time they get to an age/grade level where something like mathematical word problems require those skills – they haven’t got them, and even if they could think abstractly, they still don’t know that “how many more” means they need to subtract, or that 4 x 3 is 12. (Because they weren’t taught to memorize it).

So when you look at that picture, remember, the answer is 16.

Not because of common core.

Not because of the old way.

But because that’s how you fucking do math.

Cycling Goals for 2015

2014 was a pretty good year for the wife and I in terms of cycling. In total, I cycled over 2,000 miles. Here’s the screenshot from the MapMyRide dashboard:
Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.36.42 PM630 of those miles were bike commuting to and from work, and that was starting in June(ish).

So here are my goals for 2015:

Total miles: 3,000

Commuting: 1,500

Based on my round trip distance to and from work (~14 miles) I calculate that I need to ride at least 108 days in order to hit my goal. I think that’s totally doable. It’ll be even easier if I take the same longer router to work that I take home. Though that will require getting up earlier and, well, I’m not a morning person. But I’m fairly sure I can eek out the other 1,500 miles doing the MS150 & it’s weekly training series, along with a few other organized rides like the Tour de Houston, and just going out and doing 40-50 miles on the weekends. 3,000 seems reachable between bike commuting and regular riding.

I’m finally getting back on the bike tomorrow to start this all off. It’s been too long of a break over the holidays and the cold snap we’ve been having down here.

If you’ve made goals for 2015 leave them in the comments!

And please donate to both my wife and myself to help support our participation in the MS150, and the National MS Society! Check out THIS POST to donate. Thanks!

V O L S ! ! !

In honor of the VOLS win at the Taxslayer Bowl (formerly the Gator Bowl for those of us who remember Bowl games before they became advertisement bowls), here are three versions of Rocky Top.

I may be a Texan by residency now, but Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me.

The Osborne Brothers

A rockin’ one with John Denver, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, & Roger Miller

And one from PHISH


2014 End / 2015 Begin

And thus ends 2014.

I’ll admit, it was a pretty great year. I got a great job after being out of work for 6 months, my wife has settled into her job and is loving it, and living in Houston is fantastic. We participated in, and finished, our first MS150 and it was an incredible experience. My wife got to travel and explore the French and the Swiss Alps, while I rebuilt my first bike. Many of our friends brought new life into the world, while we lost some of our older friends, too. But this is life. 2015 is already shaping up to be another good year. I’ll become full time at work, we’ll finally go on our honeymoon after 5 years of waiting, and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be buying our first house.

I wish everyone the best, and for a prosperous and fun-filled 2015. Onward!


Stopping those annoying packets of ads/coupons from Red Plum

I don’t know about you but we get those bundles of ads from Red Plum multiple times a week. I’m not a rampant couponer so they do straight in the trash. Such a waste. I finally remembered to check their website to see if there is a way to stop getting them.

Go here: http://www.redplum.com/help/how-can-i-be-removed-from-your-mailing-list

It says it takes 5-6 weeks to become effective (seriously?), so we’ll see what happens.

Crossing fingers for success.