Shopping for a mattress

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Jan 192018

Recently started mattress shopping, and it’s tough.  The mattress industry is a peculiar and isolated throwback with a rich history of chicanery and outright fraud since the early 1900’s, when the product was not-infrequently stuffed with foul vermin-infested rags (which incidentally is why they now have those imposing tags full of legalese). It’s uniquely difficult for the consumer to navigate, and makes the used-car market seem straightforward and transparent by comparison.

The best objective information resource I’ve found is  The “Beducation” series on YouTube (by Jeff Sheuer of Mattress-To-Go in Michigan) is honest, informative, and a definite must-watch.  Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • There’s practically no such thing as “overstock” in this industry.  Factories don’t make 10,000 units and then go scrambling to sell that last 1,000.
  • “Scratch-and-Dent” is a myth.  If a mattress arrives at a retailer with minor damage, it’s shipped back to the factory, repaired, and sold as new.
  • Used mattresses are more common than you’d expect.  Those that are warranty-returned due to defects or returned during a 90-day trial period get cleaned-up and resold as “remanufactured”, “secondary”, “scratch-and-dent”, etc.  Though many online companies that make and sell foam mattresses (“bed in a box”) do donate returned units to homeless shelters.
  • The “law tag” should show the date of manufacture as well as the name of the store in which it’s being sold.  If it lists another store or has a date that’s not relatively new, it’s probably used.  Legally, any mattress that includes any pre-used material should have a second tag sewn-in that states it contains pre-used materials, but fraud is not uncommon.
  • Beware of reviews.  Many companies, most notoriously the new generation of “bed-in-a-box” online foam mattress manufacturers  dedicate serious resources to maintaining a social media presence, and there are lots of paid shills out there, or customers encouraged or incentivized to write reviews after only owning a bed a few months or less.  Many low-quality foams can start dipping and compressing after a year or so, and anyway most people moving from an old worn-out mattress to a new one will sleep better and be happy with the purchase for the first 6 months regardless of quality or durability.  The important thing to focus on is the materials themselves and how they’re assembled.
  • Be aware that many of the bed-in-a-box online “manufacturers” are actually resellers (though they won’t state this on their website).  Neither Casper nor Tuft & Needle make anything themselves.
  • If looking for a foam (or any non-innerspring mattress), look for one that has separate support and comfort layers that can be swapped-out.  Often the top layer wears-out before the firmer, underlying “support” layer, and you can save money down the road by simply replacing the “topper”.  You can also swap-out the topper if you need something with a different firmness or you’re sleeping hot and want to replace the top layer with a more breathable one made of latex, etc.

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency – Chris Whipple

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Jul 092017

This is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in how the White House works.  It’s a well-researched, non-partisan history of every Chief of Staff since Sherman Adams, who first held the position under Eisenhower.  The first “modern” Chief was H.R. Haldeman, who under Nixon developed the staff system that’s proved indispensable to every administration since.

The White House Chief of Staff is the second-most powerful man in Washington: it’s a little-understood but crucial job that determines the effectiveness of any administration.  He’s first and foremost the “Gatekeeper”: the single person through which everyone – internal and external – communicates with the President.  The most important resource of any administration is the President’s time, and a good CoS guards it zealously, while still providing face-time with numerous staff and other persons on important issues, being an “honest broker” who faithfully transmits ideas and positions to the President for his consideration without filtering them through any personal agenda of his own.  The Chief of Staff must also impose discipline and focus on the staff, and ride-herd on any and all issues big and small, short- and long-term.  Most ominously, he is the President’s “son-of-a-bitch”, telling him what he needs – not wants – to hear, and taking the heat for unpopular decisions, along with dropping the hammer on anyone and anything that becomes a liability to the execution of the President’s agenda.

Aside from the Presidency itself, it’s the worst job in Washington, and the most important.

Don’t Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today’s Middle East – Gwynne Dyer

 Books, History, The Widening Gyre  Comments Off on Don’t Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today’s Middle East – Gwynne Dyer
Jul 092017

As someone who’s eschewed current events for history the last few years, I’m a little behind on things.  This history of Islamist terrorism and ISIS (now “IS”) went a long way towards catching me up.

Drive Angry (2011)

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Jun 252017

Great little-known Nick Cage action movie.  A-list quality, and B-list flair.  Or maybe a B-list movie that you’ll enjoy more than lots of A-list movies.  It’s surprisingly well-written, but with no pretension whatsoever, and fun as hell.  The female lead, Piper, is quite well-done: a role-model for little girls everywhere.  It’s one of those movies you can’t judge by an aggregate of critic reviews, cause, spoiler alert, most critics are nitwits.



 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Inuyashiki
Jun 212017

A wonderful manga.  Gorgeous, kickass, touching, & heartbreaking.  Then kickass again, then all the other things again.  The premise sounds ridiculous, but it’s understated and well-done.  Spoiler that’s not-a-real-spoiler: the aliens appear only on a few pages in the first issue, never to return.  What follows is a nuanced story of good versus evil, with an unconventional hero.

Inuyashiki (Crunchyroll)

Recommended listening for this is Keaton Henson (see below).  And Meat Loaf.  FYI, I know this is unintuitive, but Meat Loaf goes well with tons of manga.