Category Archives: Advice

The Formula for Brainwashing and Manipulation

Picture via UCreative.com

Yes, after so many posts complaining about how people are manipulated, I’m going to give the actual process that’s being used… by damned near everyone. The basic formula has been used by cult leaders, the Nazis, etc… all the way down to the modern media and political parties on ALL sides. Once I explain the pattern for you, if you truly look with an open mind, you’ll see it used everywhere.

It’s been a while since I mentioned it, so just to establish my “credentials” here, (as it were), I’ve had a decades long interest in the fields of human behavior, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, etc… While I’m not a professional, I am very well read on the subjects.

The Actual Four Step Formula:

First, let me say this is a fairly basic formula. There’s ways to add to it via things like body language, faked evidence, quoting (or misquoting) experts or otherwise respected people, hypnotic language and other “slight of mouth” tricks, etc…

  1. Allow Your Voice to Go Up and Down; Modulate Your Tonality and Volume.

Seem silly? Anyone who has attended a single public speaking class will tell you that a speaker’s voice is what leads an audience down a path. In clinical hypnotherapy, a calm monotone will lull a person into a relaxed state and make them more susceptible to the hypnotist’s words. In this case, it’s a similar goal with opposite means. The speaker wants to captivate the audience and play on their emotions. The more the audience is led through emotional highs and lows, the more wrapped up they’ll become. The more they’ll shut down their logical thinking too.

Note that this can be as subtle as the nuanced changes in tonality seen with newscasters and YouTube pundits, to as dramatic as a stereotypical Southern preacher’s sermon.

2. Tell a Happy or Sad Story to Knock Emotional Consciousness Off Balance

The classic political examples here are the hometown hero, or the poor victim of a natural disaster, poverty, etc… There’s a million ways to do this however, especially if the storyteller is crafty. The idea remains the same however; use the combination of verbal tonality and tone of the story to capture the target’s imagination and get them thinking on an emotional level.

3. Induce feelings of Guilt, Fear and/or Anger

Here’s where the real manipulation begins. The story leads down a path that creates negative emotions in the audience. There’s a problem; suffering of some sort, another group trying to harm the audience, etc…

Ever seen an ASPCA commercial? They are MASTERS at this part of the manipulation game:

Not only is there a bad problem, you’re clearly made to feel like a horrible human being who is allowing it to continue if you don’t give them money. Nevermind that the ASPCA is horrible at supporting local SPCA organizations and spends it’s money on other projects. That’s another post however.

That video is Textbook manipulation though. While this is the most blatant example you’ll likely see, other examples exist everywhere you look. Those liberals are out to steal everything you own and destroy your way of life. Those conservatives want you kept in chains and to starve to death in the gutter. That other race is the cause of all your problems and they’re ALL alike.

Yes, the VAST majority of it all nowadays is divide and conquer. If you’re focused on the evil of that other group, you’re not paying attention to the game in front of you. Even worse, as we frequently see in politics, the same evil the other side is doing is excused when it’s “our” group. It wasn’t the same situation, or it was a frame up, etc…

So, now that you’ve got the group all whipped into a frenzy and feeling bad about something, what do you do?

4. Offer Them a Way Out

Here’s where control gets locked in, and you create an action or desired result. Now you simply give the group a solution that will lead them to a better life. Lots of examples here; Drink the Kool-Aid and the aliens will take your spirit to a better world ala Jonestown cult. Yes, younglings, that’s where the phrase “drinking the kool-aid” came from.

On the more extreme end of things, there’s the frenzy that numerous dictators have whipped populations into. Everything from Hitler’s speeches capitalizing on the German peoples’ misery to communist leaders like Lenin and Mao, on down to banana republic dictators.

Make no mistake though, it’s everywhere. Newscasts that subtly imply that something happened because of this group or that… Hell, it’s not even subtle in the case of COVID (for example). Depending upon who you listen to, the entire planet is going to die or suffer forever, OR we’re all going to end up in chains because we’re asked to wear a mask. It’s even the basic pattern for commercials. Their basic message is always the same; you’re currently somehow less than ideal, BUT the solution is OUR product. It will make you a success at work, popular, the dream of every member of the opposite sex, etc…

And there you have it. That is the basic, bare bones outline of how everyone from cult leaders to advertisers and the news media manipulates people. As I mentioned before, there are numerous ways to add onto the basic framework. With emotional or physical torture, for example, giving in to what the torturer wants and accepting their words that somebody else is responsible for the torture (ie your allies that abandoned you) is the offered way out. What Palpatine put Anakin through in the Star Wars prequels is a perfect example of this kind of emotional torture scenario.

One LAST Twist However:

A quick addenda here that deserves mention. There’s a PARTIAL truth passed around the psychological and hypnosis communities. That being that you can’t get a person to do something that’s against their will or inherent nature. I say it’s a partial truth because the truly scary elements of both those communities figured out a way around it a long time ago. NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) calls it reframing. 20 years ago political pundits called it spinning.

Simply put, all you have to do to get a good person to do something incredibly evil is convince them it’s actually a good thing. Let’s take something along the lines of an old movie plot where a husband is hypnotized into killing his wife. Not possible according to some. However, if the husband were hypnotized to believe she’s really a burglar breaking into the house with intent to kill him (instead of his wife)… then he very well might kill her.

That’s an extreme example simply to provide clarity on what reframing is. You’re far more likely to encounter reframing in the form of something being presented as a necessary evil for the greater good, the ends justifying the means, or something balancing out another wrong of some sort. Reframing is everywhere nowadays also, and is a frequent part of this whole manipulation pattern. Everything from politics to a guy at a club trying to reframe a girl’s initial negative reaction to him.

How to See Past It All:

image via salesman.org Ironically part of an article on how great salesmen persuade, not manipulate… ignoring that persuasion is indeed manipulation.

There’s a ton of books out there on seeing through and overcoming manipulation. Let me give you a few basic tips however.

FIRST: is probably the most cynical, yet valuable piece of advice I ever got. My old High School sociology teacher told the class to always assume somebody is lying, and then ask ourselves what they get out of that lie. The reasons here can be as numerous as there are people. Breaking up a couple to take a partner away, selling a product, gaining personal or political power, etc… That last part includes network ratings AND YouTube followers by the way.

Again, this IS a fairly cynical approach to life. My personal twist on that advice is to ask “COULD they be lying and what might they gain?”. That applies mostly to strangers, but even with friends, etc… you should ask yourself if they got bad information or are otherwise being misled.

SECOND: Actively look for the emotional manipulation. Is what you’re being told making you feel a certain way that you weren’t before? Is it playing on existing feelings? Is it being implied or outright stated that those feelings are the fault of someone or something else?

If you’re looking for it and are aware of it, you’ll see it for what it is and be FAR less likely to be controlled by it. Fear and loathing are POWERFUL motivators. They’re also widely used tools nowadays.

THIRD: Apply logic and look for supporting evidence. This is where the YouTube crowd fails even harder than the mainstream media (who is BAD anymore). Show me proof of something; actual PHYSICAL EVIDENCE that amounts to more than hearsay quoting of somebody who knows somebody who saw something. “Everybody knows” is not proof either, it’s manipulation.

Basic logic (sadly) seems to be tricky for most people nowadays. I don’t have enough blog space to try to teach common sense either. If you follow the second piece of advice however, it’s FAR easier to apply critical thinking to a situation.

Let me also say this much; beware of quantum leaps in logic. For example, just because politicians are corrupt and power hungry does NOT mean they’re all also lizard people from outer space. Take the time to rationally digest what you’re being told and analyze it. That above example is a great example of escalation of control.

FOURTH: Set ego aside when assessing things. That includes group identity think also. Just because somebody wants you to wear a mask doesn’t mean they’re trying to enslave you. just because somebody is NOT wearing a mask doesn’t mean they’re trying to kill you. Both of those examples are unsubstantiated jumps in reasoning based on fear and ego. Or, as they used to say in the old lawyer TV shows; “assumes facts not in evidence”.

Long story short: You’re not perfect, neither is any group you identify with. Likewise any group you disagree with is NOT all evil either. Every group has good and bad elements within it. That’s just human nature.

I hope that helps and enlightens those who actually read through the article. 🙂

If you found it at all moving, feel free to repost with credit given to me. This is one of those things that I’d REALLY like to see become widespread knowledge.

The House War Goes On…

So yeah… Not much posting the last week. Things are still pretty overwhelming here. Every time we think we’ve hit rock bottom, something else turns up wrong with the house we never should have bought.

It’s like a BAD reboot of the movie “The Money Pit”, except it’s so over the top nobody would find the story believable.

So let’s see… It started after closing when we FINALLY got the seller out, and were able to do the final walk through that we SHOULD have been allowed to do before closing.

The electrical was left ungrounded despite a contractual obligation to bring it up to code:

And once there were no longer boxes and crap blocking them, we discovered holes in the cinderblock walls:

We found windows that were installed without being properly sealed, the worst hidden by ivy:

We can’t even find a contractor that will look at the windows either. If it’s not a $15,000 full replacement job, they can’t be bothered. We did get an electrician to come out and look at the outlets and grounding issue however. When they did, this happened:

That’s Vermiculite ‘insulation’ pouring out of the wall through the electrical outlet’s box. More on that later. Right now, the biggest electrical company in Chattanooga, that even handles major industrial work, doesn’t want to touch this house.

Given the trouble with the outlets, we peeled back the wood paneling in the den and found TERMITES! In an all brick house mind you.

I got up into the attic and found that the home inspector lied his arse off about the condition of the roof. The rafter beams aren’t even flush against the crown beam of the roof:

Note the weathered look of the plywood decking on the right side vs the newer look on the left side also. Oh and those boards aren’t painted with any kind of wood stain. Nobody knows what it is yet, but the folks that have looked at it don’t think it’s black mold. You can also see wiring left hanging loose randomly, oh and the elephant in the picture; the crown support that’s supposed to be vertical is crooked as hell.

The roof itself has rotting decking, and a few rafters that need to be replaced as well, and it’s sagging in multiple spots:

The section around the chimney has actually gotten worse just in the month we’ve had the house. Why? The foundation is falling in everywhere. I already sort of covered that in my “Follow the Evidence” posts. This post is already getting REALLY graphic intense too. Suffice to to say that checking the house with a laser level didn’t find a level room in the house. Some walls were not only unlevel, they are leaning also.

We’re looking at $50,000 to $60,000 or higher to fix the foundations and walls. That will involve tearing up all the floors to add supports to the interior walls. So we’ll need to install new flooring afterwards too.

So another $10,000 to $20,000 for flooring on top of the $60,000 for the foundation and $15,000 for the walls. We haven’t even touched the improvements done without permits also… Things like the gas water heater plugged into an overhead light fixture’s socket:

THAT is why you want all work to have the legally required permits.

What doesn’t have a permit? All the windows except 1 were replaced (and left unsealed and without trim), a new side door was put in (without properly reinforcing the door way, leading to the accelerated roof collapsing), the new instant hot water heater, electrical rewiring of the kitchen, a completely renovated bathroom, a new electrical breaker box (sitting right on top of an outlet), new electrical and plumbing for the relocated clothes washer and dryer. Probably a few other things I’m forgetting right now as well.

So, then comes the kicker, part 1… Weeks later, we finally get our radon test results back…

We’re sitting at 3.13x the EPA maximum sort of safe limit for radon gas. Per other sites, that means we have a 1 in 30 chance of getting lung or some other cancer.

We also have an asbestos inspector come out and gather samples for testing. Long story short there, the flooring tile that I showed in my previous post is 90% likely to be asbestos.

Note how level the floor is also.

That vermiculite ‘insulation’ that I mentioned up towards the top of this post? Turns out that almost certainly contains asbestos as well. The primary (ie almost exclusive) mine location for it in the US up until… 1990 I think I read, had the vermiculite contaminated with asbestos.

The ceiling tiles and bottom most layer of attic insulation MIGHT also be asbestos. The technician that gathered the samples was a bit more optimistic about them.

Combine all of that with a dozen other issues I mentioned, like ant and roach infestations, and the utilities for the two neighbors behind us cut through our yard, and kind of close to the house (undisclosed easements), which in turn prevents us from doing anything like adding a garage without having to relocate the neighbors’ underground utilities, and the house is a freaking mess. We’re looking at a good $100,000 to $150,000 to make the house right, on a house valued at $250,000 (and is really only worth the land it’s sitting on).

It could even be more depending up how much asbestos abatement is needed.

A New Blogging Topic:

All of that leads me to a decision here… I’m going to start a new blog topic or series here on avoiding getting burned the way we did. I’ve learned FAR more than I wanted to about home inspections, building codes, etc… and it’s time to pass that on.

The sad reality is that you often can’t trust your realtor or home inspector to look out for you. Your realtor is all too often focused only on closing the sale and moving on to their other clients, especially if you’re under $400,000 in home value. Too many home inspectors are more interested in keeping their referral business from the buyer’s and seller’s agents to be thorough also. They won’t risk blowing up a deal to save your butt. The standard contract from the international inspector’s association includes a hold harmless clause in their contracts too, no matter how bad a job they did.

So yes, lots of new info coming your way soon.

Is My 35mm Nikon Now Obsolete?

Cellphone camera technology has officially hit the point of wowing me. I remember the EARLY days of phone cameras when the picture quality was on par with a floppy disk video game’s VGA graphics, lol

Enter the Samsung S21 Ultra:

Image via Samsung.com

One spec sneaked into that pic already; the FRONT camera is 40 Megapixels. By comparison my Nikon D3400 is a 24 Megapixel camera:

Image via Walmart.com

That’s nearly identical to the kit I got at a big box membership store before our honeymoon in Hawai’i. The camera let me take some pretty spectacular shots. Most of the ones I posted here from that trip were actually taken with my iPhone 10 simply because the file sizes were too big with the Nikon:

Suffice it to say the Nikon turned out images that were twice as good and enlarged better. We have five of them on our dining room wall. Apple is still plodding along at 12 megapixels for it’s newest camera phones. The lens quality is better with each new version, BUT the iPhone 13 is still 1/2 the base level image quality of the Nikon.

Let’s get back to the Samsung though:

Image via Samsung.com

Yes, you read that correctly… The primary ‘wide angle’ lens is 108 megapixels!

An actual pic from the camera, via Samsung,com

Samsung is also claiming a 100x “Space Zoom” on it. The folks at the local phone store said one recent customer zoomed in on a water tank on a hill in the distance (eyeballing it, it looked like about 2 miles away), and they were all able to read the print on the water tank.

What is “Space Zoom”?

I had to look this one up myself. It’s a combination of optical and digital zoom. Any true camera nut will tell you that there’s no substitute for true optical zoom. It’s real picture quality vs artificial enhancement. HOWEVER… all you have to do is look at the picture above this one to see that the camera phone definitely seems to have good lens quality also.

Test Drive Pending:

Will it replace a true 35mm DSLR camera? We shall soon find out. My spouse and I got fed up with our insanely high bill from AT&T, and switched carriers. We’re going to save over 30% monthly on our bill and get two new S21 Ultras. We’re just waiting for the phones to be delivered. After some test driving, I’ll report back on the camera quality. Maybe I’ll even do a full review.

Our Nikon D3400 is considered an “entry level” 35mm camera. There are ones out there with higher resolution capability. Most of them come with extremely high price tags also. I’m skeptical that the Samsung’s phone can compete with a professional level DSLR with a good lens kit. Lens size, and even file format makes a difference. RAW files save an incredible amount of detail that even a JPEG loses.

An Expert Explanation (AKA Don’t Believe the Hype)

In fact, I found somebody who did a quickie comparison on YouTube already:

If you don’t want to watch the 5 minute comparison… The image quality was extremely close in most cases, however, when he got back to file format / size and the ability to edit pics at a professional level, here’s what he had in the notes of the video:

“Why did I lightly edit the Canon 1DX Mark II pictures instead of the Galaxy S21 Ultra pictures? Because the highly compressed .jpg images coming out of the Galaxy S21 Ultra would probably have fallen apart if I tried to push the color as much as I did with the Canon 1DX Mark II.”

He goes on to explain that camera image sensor and lens size make a huge difference in how much light can be captured, and thus how much fine detail can be captured. A dedicated DSLR camera has 12x the lens and camera sensor size.

The fact that the newest camera phone can turn out 99% equal quality base images is due to the phone essentially photoshopping the image immediately after taking it. Settings like portrait mode use a combination of minor lens manipulation and built in filters to enhance the the clarity and color of picture.

Conclusion:

A camera phone isn’t likely to replace a true professional’s camera kit for years to come. For the rest of us who simply want our vacation photos to look as good as possible, the need for a dedicated camera may very well be drawing to an end.

Despite the above video being very credible, I will be doing my own testing and posting the results here. We’ll see for ourselves if a camera phone has finally reached the point of replacing a 35mm DSLR for the typical home photographer.

Sleep Number Bed – How It’s Made & Review

Kind of random I know, but that’s my blog.

This post inspired by our battle with our own bed and Sleep Number’s customer non-service department.

Image from Businesswire.com

As you doubtless guessed from my opening and previous post about sleep quality, I have some real gripes here. I’m going to be fair and talk about the pluses we experienced while we owned the bed also. It’s probably easiest to work through things in a chronological order.

We started out looking for a new bed about 5 1/2 years ago when my back was probably at it’s worst, or at least during one of several truly bad points over the years. The advertised fact that the bed could adjust to conform to the needs of a sleeper, and even that sleeper’s changing sleep needs was a powerful selling point for us. You could make it firmer or softer if you had a physically demanding day, etc…

Resting on the bed at the store, it was just as comfortable as a foam mattress like a Tempur-Pedic, but seemed to adapt and support even better as our sleep numbers were dialed in. And that’s the trick; Sleep Number beds are great when you first buy them.

Purchase is where we hit our first snag or grumble though. When you see the commercials and they say “Only X Dollars”, they’re only talking about only the mattress assembly itself. The base costs more, with an adjustable base potentially more than doubling the cost of the bed. Then there’s the topper that goes on top of the air chambers. The more plush or heat dispersing you go, the price goes up, but the topper is disguised as a different model number. “Oh no, the super plush cooling top? That’s our i12 model, not this i8… It’s much more.”

To be fair, the vast majority of manufacturers of numerous products play the “different model” game. Even with other bed manufacturers though, there’s more of a difference in material construction than with a Sleep Number bed. Many of those beds won’t cost you upwards of $3000 out the door either.

Sleep Number Construction:

Let’s get into how the bed is made so that we can actually start talking about where the real problems begin.

Above is our (former) Sleep Number bed. It was a little over 5 years old when we got rid of it. That is about the shelf life for a poor to middle quality inner-coil spring traditional mattress. The reason we bought this bed though is that it came with a 20 year pro-rated warranty. We figured in the end, we’d come out ahead vs buying 3 or 4 supposedly lesser quality beds over that same time period.

If you notice above, the topper or “pillow top” already looks pretty shabby in terms of holding it’s shape, particularly on the right side. The problem is that the topper is primarily just cheap foam:

It’s got the sleep number logo all over it though, so that must make it high end, right? LOL.

Aside from that foam, there’s about 3/4 of an inch (1.9cm) of not very dense or supportive padding in the upper casing. The problem with the foam is that it loses support without you even realizing it IF you’re only judging it’s condition based on it returning to a normal shape after you get off of it.

As a side note, this is an issue I have with Tempur-Pedic; to get warranty replacement of their mattresses, the foam has to show a full 1 inch (2.4cm) of sag or indentation before they’ll replace it, per some internet sources. Foam, even high quality stuff like Tempur-Pedic uses, loses support well before it shows that kind of sag.

Same problem with our topper there. It looked OK if you unzip it, but NO support. Why does that matter? Because the rest of the bed is a glorified air mattress:

Or in the case of our Queen sized bed, two air mattresses connected via a zipper so there’s no gap in the center. This allows each side of the bed to be adjusted to varying firmness levels independent of the other side. If you’re wondering, the construction there is a combination of cloth and some vinyl-like material. Not much different from a decent quality camping air mattress that you’d buy from a department store.

Needless to say, the potential for leaks is there. Unlike those camping air mattresses, these held pressure pretty well up till our move out here from California. More on that in a minute or so.

Oh and of you’re wondering, YES, that IS just a foam block border around the air mattress, on all four sides. The outer fabric shell is primarily what holds the bed together. NOW, for the sake of being complete, here’s what’s under the air chambers:

First, we have about 3/4 of an inch of more foam to act as padding for the air chambers. THEN we have the bottom of the outer shell, secured to the adjustable base via four bolts anchoring wide plastic hold downs:

As you can see, it’s a fairly simple design overall. The air bags provide the firmness level of each side of the bed, and the topper helps the bed conform to your body and feel softer than a basic air mattress would. The hold downs keep the mattress from going anywhere while the adjustable base is in anything other than a flat position.

The air pump’s hoses hook into the head of the air mattress, and keep the mattresses at the desired setting, at least in theory.

Our Actual Problems:

Aside from the topper’s foam wearing out without us being fully aware of it (the air chamber softness can make this harder to notice than with an all foam mattress), the big problem was with air pressure. Customer (Non) Service as well, as you’re about to read.

Twice in the last 4 months we’ve had my side of the bed alternate between not holding pressure and just slowly being completely random in what it would be. I might go to bed at my ideal sleep number, wake up 2 hours later and have the pressure maxed out, and the next time I wake up, it could be nearly flat. This played hell with my back and neck as well as my already very poor sleep quality.

The first time, we called Sleep Number’s corporate customer service. We got told that we could throw parts blindly at it, OR have somebody come out and diagnose the bed. That would cost $100 though. Cheaper than just guessing and going through a pile of parts, right? We went that route.

It took a week and a half for them to get somebody out. We were stuck on our old inner spring guest bed during that time.

Two young guys that barely look out of high school show up, unzip the topper from the main body and take a quick look at the mattress, looking lost the entire time. They call the same 800 number we did, and talk to corporate. Perhaps unknown to corporate, we can hear the other end of the conversation, and they tell the kids to just label it the air chambers and get on to the next call. They sounded quite annoyed that the kids seemed to want to actually do the diagnosis we paid for.

Unsure what to do at the moment due to fatigue and not knowing how to check the other parts ourselves, we throw up our hands and say “fine”.

Here’s the kicker for this first call: Not only did we get charged $100 for a diagnosis that was nothing more than a blind guess, our 20 year pro-rated discount price for the new air chambers was another $200! Being pro-rated and only 25% of the way through our warranty, that means the parts should have been 75% off. MEANING, Sleep Number prices their air chambers at $800 MSRP.

The replacement parts order was also botched, and when we called back a day or two later, the order had never even been placed. THEN it took almost two weeks for the new air chambers to arrive. Yes, if you’re doing the math, that’s a month without the high priced bed. We also told them we’d install the new parts ourselves (it’s really pretty simple). Another three or four weeks later, Sleep Number has two new guys knocking on our door at the crack of dawn saying they were here to install the new parts we’d ordered.

SO, if we’d waited for them that would have been almost two months with no bed.

We put everything together though, and for a short while everything seemed OK. We figured that MAYBE the fluctuations in air pressure were caused by the pump trying to compensate (poorly) for a previous leak and we were good.

Three months later, we were back exactly where we were before.

THIS time, I spend a couple of days online researching things. YouTube and other review sites have several irate reviews about the pump systems on these beds being complete crap, and Sleep Number allegedly deliberately making them that way so they can sell a steady stream of replacement parts.

The crappy pump in question

Between the cost of the parts last time, realizing finally that the topper is worn out also, and feeling very burnt over the diagnostic fee, we had enough. We figured we’d be paying the same inflated prices for a replacement pump and topper, AND that we’d have NO idea how long before those parts or something else gave out again. That was when we opted to replace instead of repair.

Sleep IQ and Questions of Privacy:

Another thing to consider with a Sleep Number bed is their “Sleep IQ” phone app. First, the app is going to want access to quite a bit of your phone’s system. It’s also not just tracking your sleep via pressure sensors in the pump, it’s reporting that info back to Sleep Number’s computers. It will also pressure you to allow the app to monitor your wi-fi enabled thermostat, “to help avoid you sleeping hot or cold”.

All in all, there’s a ton of data about your sleep habits, sleep schedule, and home energy usage, along with God only knows what else from the other phone permissions, that the app data-mines and reports back to Sleep Number. I guarantee you that info is getting sold to third party marketers.

Since the app also claims to stop snoring by detecting it and elevating the upper portion of the bed, one can assume that the app is also using your phone as a listening device. How else is it going to detect snoring after all? Tossing and turning might be detectable via minor, brief changes in air pressure, but snoring??

Needless to say, we never installed the app. WAY too “Big Brother” for us.

Final Thoughts:

First, let me be fair: Our Sleep Number bed was pretty comfortable when we got it. It really helped with my back. MY big issue with the bed is the lack of long term quality and the piss-poor customer service with the company at the corporate level. When one pays a premium for a product, it’s naturally expected that performance and longevity will above average, ideally well above average.

Most fair, independent review sites will show that the Sleep Number bed is at the top of the charts for long term cost of ownership with beds. Even the custom fitted sheets designed to stay put on the unusual construction and movable base are around $250 for a queen set. Sleep Number is as much in business to sell you parts as they are an actual bed.

As you can see from the pictures above, the bed is really just an air mattress surrounded by foam as well. Nothing that justifies a nearly $4000 price tag for the newest models. In short, in my opinion, not only is the quality not there to justify the price, it’s long term costs are too high, AND the combination of foam and air mattress also make it hard to recognize when some parts are wearing out.

It’s also pretty lousy for sex as well. Too much give, and neither side is intended to support the weight of two people.

Buy ANYTHING else, but save your money here. It’s not worth the aggravation.

Sito Privato

OK, time for a “Things that Make You Go Hmmm” post…

Now for those who don’t speak Italian or can’t guess based on the phrase’s similarity to English, the title means Private Site. I bring it up because there’s a blog I follow that’s in Italy, and the gal who runs it has a bad habit of locking most of her followers out of some of her posts. Since just about all of her posts are romantic poetry, thoughts and songs, I assume she’s younger. I likewise assume that given the rest of her posts are about romance and sensuality that the private posts are also.

Every time I hit that private site screen, I can’t help but wonder what’s being posted that she feels the need to keep it hidden from most people.

With that in mind, I wanted to offer some advice to the young women out there: NOTHING, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on the internet is private. No matter what you do, there are people with ways around it. Anything from outright hackers to sites that index (and clone) other sites, to “social engineering” and a dozen other possibilities.

Keeping it simple, the aspect of social engineering that we’re talking about here is that whole thing your parents or friends hopefully warned you about with not sharing racy pictures of yourself with somebody you have a crush on. They’ll share with one friend, no matter what they promise, and then it gets passed around more and more until suddenly everybody in the neighborhood, at school and / or at work knows what your bare boobs look like.

My point is this; if your piece of erotica or sensual poetry is that sexual, or you don’t feel comfortable sharing that pic (nude or not), putting it behind a “private” page or site is really NO protection at all. You have two realistic choices here:

DON’T DO IT. Use discretion and common sense levels of caution and don’t post that written material or picture. You’re very likely saving yourself a good deal of drama later on down the road. Won’t happen to you? That’s what EVERY girl that ended up with nude pictures passed around school, or the star of a revenge porn video on the internet said. None of them set out to be publicly humiliated.

The other option is to accept it’s VERY likely going to happen to you also at some point. Webpage passwords are minimal protection. They might be better than just “owning it” and putting it out on display for everybody but the end result is probably going to be the same. That pic, video or story could resurface at the worst possible time too.

Hypocritical, given that I write erotica? Superficially, BUT I’m only warning you of the likely fallout. I’m also careful to disclose minimal personal information and NO pictures of myself. I’d do follow those last two steps regardless. The world has too many weird people in it.

Use wisely your power of choice.