Let’s talk about giving teachers guns.

I’m not a teacher anymore.

But for 6 years, I had the sincere pleasure of educating elementary school children. 10 year olds. 5th graders who still looked to me for band-aids, were excited to show me their LEGO sets, and stared wild-eyed when I could answer 50 multiplication problems in under 50 seconds. I loved it. I loved those kids. But I hated the system. I stuck it out as long as stress would allow me, and then I left. And even though I don’t stand in front a classroom every day anymore, I’ll always consider myself a teacher. It was the job I wanted to do since I was a kid – inspired by so many of my own great teachers. I sometimes think by leaving I let them down. But teachers want nothing but for their students to be happy and successful.

And I doubt their idea of my success would include drawing down on a shooter who has just mowed down the classroom of 10 year olds next-door and is now coming for us. I often wonder what they would think of the entire situation. When I think back to my 1st grade teacher, Miss C., she was fresh out of college, young, and eager. That was 1987. I can’t even imagine her standing there, teaching me how to do simple addition, with a Glock strapped to her side.

I can’t imagine it now, either.

Because it’s insane.

It’s fucking insane.

I’m just going to skip listing all the of the responsibilities teachers have on a daily basis that extend far beyond the letter of the job. It’s a long list. It’s a stress-inducing list. A list that now includes active shooter survival and lockdown training. Yes, teachers now need to figure out how to heard a class of 20+ kids who are barely old enough to understand the concept of death into a classroom closet, or an out-of-sight corner, and keep them quite and calm. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a class of 7 year olds quiet? And now it could mean life or death?

But that’s OK – let’s just add gun handling, and combat training to it. It’s the obvious answer right? Fight fire with fire. Give those teachers guns. I’m sure little old Mrs. Anderson in room 106, who still doesn’t quite grasp the use of email, will certainly be able to squeeze off a few rounds and take down a person with a semi-automatic rifle.

Yeah, yeah ok ok. I know you’re saying we don’t need to arm all the teachers – just some of them. Some young, active ones who can run, tuck & roll, and have all that video game shooting experience, right? They’ll be perfect. Because of their age, and physique, they must volunteer to put their lives on the line and run toward the gunfire, instead of away. But, if there isn’t a gun in every classroom that must mean that some children and teachers must be sacrificed before those with guns have a chance to react, compose themselves, make sure their classes are safe, before running toward the danger.

You’ll read that what Trump really meant when he said to give teachers guns, was to only give them to ex-military who have since become teachers. While the sample size of a single teacher is low – I can easily say that of the 3 schools I’ve taught in – in 3 different states – none of them has former Marines (or any other branches) working as teachers. So, I guess that means we all die. And let’s not get into giving these supposedly existing teachers a bonus or extra pay of some sort; teachers can’t even get funding for classroom supplies, or special education assistance, or even just a raise every once in a while. Where’s that extra millions for hazard pay going to come from?

Does this sound stupid as fuck yet?

The only way everyone is safe is to keep the guns out of the schools. Away from the schools. See, the thing is, despite what all the gun-wielding, 2nd amendment humping, NRA cock sucking Republicans will tell you, this is a gun problem. It’s a gun access problem. They’ll be happy to tell you if we got rid of guns, then two things will happen: 1) the government will immediately initiate a hostile takeover of the country and declare martial law, and 2) all the criminals will now have all the guns and we’re going to be robbed, mugged, killed, etc constantly. Nevermind that a large majority of firearms in criminal possession are legal guns stolen from gun owners. It seems any schmuck can buy a gun at a gun show without proper papers or checks. But this is whole thing is a different argument for a different day.

A school is a safe place. A place of learning. A place of respect. It is not a place of violence.

When a motorist hits and kills a cyclist, the answer to the problem isn’t give the cyclists cars to start demolition derby style revenge- it’s to build better infrastructure, educate motorists, fine and/or jail the motorists, take away their license, and change the local laws and ordinances to better protect the cyclists. Of course there is pushback from motorists who couldn’t fathom riding a bike – just like there’s pushback from gun gurus about changing gun laws. The only difference is adding a bike lane saves lives. Adding guns doesn’t. Adding well timed bike signal lights saves lives. Add guns doesn’t. Taking a license away from a repeat drunk driver (not that this ever fucking happens) saves lives. Selling guns to domestic abuse offenders does not.

The point I’m trying to make is you don’t solve the gun problem by adding more guns. It’s like saying I’m going to fix my leaky sink by pouring water on it. And you sure as fuck don’t solve a school shooting problem by giving guns to teachers.

If I was still teaching and I was asked to carry a gun, I would refuse. It’s probably cost me my job but I’d rather not work in a place where I’d be forced to shoot a kid. But when it comes down to it, the blame falls squarely on the NRA and gun owners who put their desire to own guns above my desire to not shoot children.

Fuck those guys.

And fuck your guns.


2017: A year in [brief] review

Now seems as good a time as any to start writing again. 2017 really kicked the shit out of us. I suppose it’s best to just get it all down on paper. Err…

Does anyone even read this anymore?

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s the Good:
-Despite all of my quirks, my lovely wife is still by my side. Going on 18 years…
-After raising nearly $1500, I completed the BP MS150 for the 3rd time, riding nearly 160 miles from Houston to Austin in support of the National MS Society
-We spent over a week in coastal Maine, showing our friends who’ve never been what it’s like to relax in cozy cabins and devour copious amount of lobster while watching fishing boats troll by. We split the time between Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor.
-My sister-in-law married her best beau, Josh, and it was an absolute blast.

-Jess & Tom welcomed their daughter Ainsley into the world, while Mohan & Ponnarasi welcomed little Manu.

-Chainsaw’s recovery from his back paralysis has been incredible. Last December he couldn’t lift himself off the floor of the emergency vet. Now, he’s hoppin’ & boppin’ like the old man he is. Speaking of which – he turned 17 this year. Dude is mega old!

-I finally got to see U2 – and it couldn’t have come at a better time: their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. One of my favorite bands, playing one of my all-time favorite albums ever. It was blissful.

-Our friends, family, & complete strangers came to our rescue, our aid, and helped us get back on our feet after losing almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

And now for the shit—–

-In March, I dislocated my left knee, badly. It took over a month of walking with crutches and a cane, getting fluid drained, and lots of bags of frozen veggies, but I was finally able to move about. Because I’m stubborn, I still completed the MS150 even though technically I still should have been walking with a cane. But, it still hurts. It still hasn’t fully healed – and may not ever.

-Hurricane Harvey: Yeah, we got a fuckton of rain, but interestingly enough that wasn’t what flooded our entire neighborhood and put over 40″ of water in our house for 2 weeks.
We were only expecting [hoping] for a few inches of water if any at all, but, the Army Corps of Engineers had other plans for us.
For the full album of photos, from the first few drops of rain to the complete tear out and demo, check out my Flickr album HERE (it’s depressing, FYI)

-If being flooded out of your home wasn’t bad enough, the apartment we had to rent for 6 months was broken into after a month. The fuckers stole both our computers (which we had saved from the house), some money, and some sentimental antique jewelry. None of it has been located. Fuck those guys.

-My wife lost her job (after the flood, so, double the impact).

So, overall, 2017 was a tough year to gauge. The negatives were huge and devastating. But the highs were also pretty awesome. Let’s just say it was a year that will leave a lot of memories in its wake.

Hi, 2018. Let’s be friends.

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