Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Google+ You = Just You - Repost

A while back, I predicted a class action lawsuit would be coming against my former seventeenth-favorite social network, Google+. Sadly, I was right. Someone please tell my wife.

I got the email yesterday informing me of the impending legal action against Google With Cross. I was wrong about one thing, though. The suing class wasn’t as large as I thought it would be. I predicted the predatory lawyers would be able to round up as many as seven hipsters as plaintiffs. I overestimated the massive popularity and user base of Google Addition. They could only find four. This legal action brought to you by Matthew, Zak, Charles, and Eileen. Good luck with your lawsuit, you crazy kids.

Here’s the historical record of my prediction, so we can prove it to my wife. Enjoy!

I received some disturbing news last week. Google emailed me to inform me that my Google+ account would be shut down soon. You can imagine my surprise.

My first thought was, I have a Google+ account?

My second thought was, What the hell is Google+?

I’m totally kidding. I know Google+ was the social media network that Google came up with in an afternoon as a means to compete with Facebook. Sadly, it never really took off, and by “never really,” I mean that only fifty-six people in the entire world ever knew about it, and most of them worked at Google. Maybe they should have advertised it on Facebook?

My guess as to why it never gained any traction is that it had a symbol in the name. It was like The Social Network Formerly Known as Prince. When you don’t actually spell out your company name, you leave it far too open for interpretation.

Is it “Google Plus,” “Google Add,” “Google And,” “Google Positive,” “Google Lazy Person’s Ampersand,” or “Google Insert International Direct Dial Code Here?” No one ever knew for sure.

Here’s part of the nice note I received from Google Celtic Cross:

In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers' expectations.

Apparently, one of the “challenges involved in maintaining a successful product” is not accidentally leaving a giant security gap for an entire week. That apparently does not “meet consumers' expectations.”

Originally, they had plans to drag out the shutdown of Google Line Doodle until August of 2019, but then they found out that they did an update that had a huge bug in it, leaving everyone’s accounts wide open for an entire week, so they have decided to pull the plug by April.

It’s unclear whether any sensitive data was leaked, but the good news for Google is that virtually everyone with a Google I Have Two Sticks account was a Google employee, and can’t sue them. Any class action lawsuits arising from the breach should only have about seven members, consisting of ultra-hipsters. Google can probably settle out of court with them for a few twelvers of PBR and some free Lyft coupons.

The nice note then had a ton of completely useless information about how I could retrieve all my photos from them. Apparently, they were still fooling themselves into thinking anyone actually used Google Swiss Flag, right up until the end.

The note concluded with this:

From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place. We are grateful for the talented group of artists, community builders, and thought leaders who made Google+ their home. It would not have been the same without your passion and dedication.

Yes, you seven dedicated thought leaders meant the world to us!

Also, if any of you talented, passionate community builders out there are hiring, we would love to synergistically leverage our failed Google Skewed X platform skills in your workspace, as early as next Tuesday.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Prepare for the Scare

This is a message for all you young folks out there. You crazy kids in your twenties, just brimming with enthusiasm and youth. I know you don’t think of yourselves as kids, but trust me, you are, and I’ll prove it to you.

I don’t really remember what drove me back when I was your age. I don’t remember what made me tick. But I know for certain it wasn’t the same things that drive me now. The things that make me tick these days are just downright scary.

I realized (again) the other day that I am no longer a kid and that I have become old. It happened right after I got done skimming every last leaf out of my pool, and I sat back, gazing at the crystal-clear water with a swell of pride, knowing I had my pH absolutely dialed in.

Nothing can prepare you for that jolt of sickening realization that you have become so old and boring that the chemical balance of your pool water is now a significant source of joy in your life.

You young folks have taken a lot of classes in your life thus far, but sadly, none have prepared you for this impending situation – you will become old, and tired, and boring.

I realize you are convinced that you won’t, but trust me. If you don’t want to take my word for it, simply ask as many people over the age of forty as you can find. You can quit polling anytime you’re satisfied (or terrified), but I will guarantee you the answers will be one hundred percent identical.

One day you will:

get excited about the 30% off coupon from Jiffy Lube.

have a deep feeling of accomplishment from putting felt pads on the furniture legs to protect your new fake hardwood floors.

say “Because I said so,” to your own kids for the first time (but not the last). Also, “It’s for your own good.”

worry if you have enough life insurance. You will also have conversations at dinner parties with your friends about life insurance.

wake up more sore than when you went to bed, and realize that you didn’t do any physical activity that should have made you sore in the first place. Then you will sadly realize that you just literally hurt yourself sleeping.

experience the joy of buying your first home. Then you will experience the shock of writing your first property tax check. Then you will experience the utter horror and disbelief of realizing that people who don’t own property still get to vote on how much your property taxes should be.

revel in the feeling of beating them at their own game when you cut up the old dresser with your Sawzall and slowly throw it away over four or five weeks in your regular trash can so you don’t have to pay for a dump run.

These are just a few examples, and by far not the worst. I didn’t want to scare you.

And remember, I tell you all of this in an attempt to minimize your shock when it happens, not as a warning of what to avoid. There’s nothing you can do about it. It will happen.

Just keep living that young life of yours to the fullest, so when the inevitable Sunday afternoon comes and you find yourself swelling with an optimistic feeling that all is right with the world because you just fully refilled all seven compartments in your day-of-the-week pill container, you can look back with no regrets.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Masking the Problem

My bank used to have a sign on the door prohibiting anyone from wearing a hat or sunglasses inside the building. My bank now has a sign on the door requiring me to completely cover my face before entering.

Think about that for a minute.

Prior to this COVID scare, the bank wanted to make sure they could identify every one of my facial features if I was going to be in their building, and now the place where they keep all the money is mandating that I disguise my appearance.

We just went to the bank the other day to set up a new checking account for Son Number Two, and my fourteen-year-old was sitting at the bank manager’s desk literally wearing a bandana around his face like an old west bank robber.

What an amazing time in history this must be for thieves. You no longer have to slink around in the shadows and pull the stocking over your face at the last second. We’re literally required to be in disguise at all times!

You now have so many more options at the bank counter. You don’t need to bring a gun, or even a note. Just wait until you see a few big guys go in the bank, then casually mention to the teller that they are with you and they have guns. The teller won’t know what to think. Everyone who doesn’t actually work at the bank might be in on it, because everyone is wearing a mask! You’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams!

I don’t think I’ll go immediately into bank robbery, but I am considering a new career in porch piracy. It’s just become too easy. I am now actually looked upon as a thoughtful, caring citizen if I’m seen walking down your street wearing a backpack and a mask.

“Look at that wonderful man! I can’t for the life of me tell who he is, but he’s obviously doing his part for the environment by commuting to work on foot, and caring for our community by keeping his COVID to himself. How nice. On a completely unrelated note, I wonder where my Amazon package is? The app said it was delivered.”

The thing about bank robbers and porch pirates is this, though: They actually made the decision to become bank robbers and porch pirates. That means, by definition, they are bad decision makers. Same goes for your everyday, lowlife, smash-and-grab thief. This fact was evidenced recently in our local Facebook good neighbors group.

Folks we know from our elementary school posted security camera footage of a man who broke the front window of their business in the middle of the night and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment.

They obviously have a good security camera system because the night vision photo of the thief was very high quality. There he is, plain as day, NOT wearing a mask. You heard me - NOT wearing a mask. You can see his entire head of hair and his whole face. The camera quality is so good it looks like a school picture of him. At first, I thought Lifetouch might have actually taken the photo, because he’s not smiling and has a weird look on his face.

This only happened a few days ago, but he’s probably already in custody. Anyone who knew him would have been like, “Yeah, that’s totally Rick. He always has that dumb look on his face. Do you know why? Because Rick is a dumbass.”

The police probably showed up to Rick’s apartment, where he was high and watching cartoons at two in the afternoon, knocked on his door, compared his face to the security photo, and just shook their heads as they handcuffed him.

Rick, buddy, even the greenest, twenty-year-old public defender who went to a Caribbean law school could have got you off with reasonable doubt if you had just bothered to wear a mask that night. Seriously, Rick, you can’t be THAT bad at making decisions. It was so simple. Wear a mask, dude, like the law is REQUIRING you to do.

Or is that it, Rick? Are you such a badass outlaw that you don’t do anything the law requires? Even when it might help you get away with committing a crime, as is your penchant as a career scoundrel? Sorry to say, buddy, you are proving my point. Thieves are bad decision makers.

Oh, and one more thing, Rick... on an unrelated note, you should probably stop smoking meth.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going for a walk. I just need to find my backpack. I think that’s all I need.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Thank You, Joe Wong

A really great man passed away on Friday due to a massive heart attack. I was fortunate enough to get to know Joe Wong a little when I coached his son, John, in baseball on several different teams over the years.

Before I ever met Joe, I knew he was an exceptional man and father just from meeting his son for the first time. John is one of those kids that, as a coach, you dream about having on your team. He was at the top of my draft list every season, but all too often he was snatched up ahead of me by another coach who knew his value like I did.

In terms of talent, by definition, ninety percent of baseball players aren’t in the top ten percent. (I did that math all by myself.) I wasn’t trying to draft John every year because he was a top ten percenter, talent-wise. He was always right there with my sons, solidly in the middle of the ninety percent.

He is, however, in the top one percent of athletes as far as being a teammate. John simply makes the team better just by being there. He is a good player, but his biggest value to the team is his ability to positively affect morale.

John just makes you happy. He makes you want to have fun. He is always smiling. He makes you want to race each other. He makes you want to compete, for the fun of it. He is always happy to be there. He makes you want to win together. He always brought gum. He just makes the team better.

John contributed standardly to the success of our teams on the field, but he contributed immeasurably in the dugout. I knew John got those attributes from his parents, and it was very easy to see those same qualities in Joe whenever you spoke with him. It became abundantly clear what a powerful influence Joe was, however, when I read a tweet about his passing from a professional basketball player.

Joe was a hard-working man, and he held down more than one job to take care of his wonderful family. Among other things, he was on the security team at the Golden 1 Center, where the Sacramento Kings play.

Kings center and power forward Harry Giles III tweeted his reaction the other day to the news of Joe’s death.

My heart is heavy! Joe Wong! I’ll never forget you my man! You were one of the nicest people I’ve ever met! Your attitude never changed! You showed me how to show up every day for work and regardless of what’s going on... always be happy! On some of my worst games you were always so uplifting and positive! Going to miss you having mango Hi-Chews and green Jolly Ranchers for me when I came in G1C or asking if my mom was coming to the game. Wish I could do it all one more time and hug you. Going to miss you so much. Thank you for everything!

Is it any wonder that John became the stellar teammate he is with a dad like Joe? I mean, how amazing is that statement from Giles?

Harry Giles wasn’t coached by Joe. Joe wasn’t one of his teammates. He wasn’t one of his trainers. Joe never got the chance to address the team and talk with them about their mental performance.

The Kings players only saw Joe in passing when they entered and exited the arena, but his positive demeanor and attitude about life had such a profound impact on them that a professional athlete credits Joe with teaching him how to show up to his own job with joy, what an authentically positive attitude can do, how to bounce back from disappointments, and what truly caring about others looks like.

Some of the highest paid coaches in the NBA don’t have the ability to positively impact their players the way the man guarding the door was able to impact Harry Giles, and very likely, the majority of the rest of the Kings players and staff as well.

Joe knew, probably better than anyone I’ve ever known, that being a teammate means so much more than what you do during a game, and that you can be an invaluable asset to the team without ever having set foot between the lines.

I have no doubt that John will follow in his dad’s footsteps and continue to be that beacon of light for others to look toward, and I’m looking forward to seeing it happen.

I only wish Joe could have been around a little longer to model it some more for his kids, and for the rest of us.

Rest in peace, Joe. You were the real deal. Thanks for showing us the way.


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Shotgun Wedding? - Repost

My wife and I celebrated our eighteenth wedding anniversary a couple days ago with our whole family. That’s an amazing testament to the love we share… for our three boys, since they have been with us for fifteen of the eighteen years, and they have been loud and annoying the entire time.

Just so you know, fellas, we could have easily chosen to celebrate by ourselves. You’re welcome.

Anyway, in honor of another successful year of marriage, I thought I would once again regale you with the heartwarming tale about the night after the night I met my wife.

Unfortunately, the night I met my wife was fairly uneventful. (Besides the fact that I met the love of my life, of course.)

So instead, I will regale you with the shocking, explosive, frightening, and downright weird tale about the following night. It’s a tale of a dive bar, a truck, a barefoot man, a policeman, a bathrobe, and a shotgun.

A guy walks into a bar. It was me. I met my wife in a bar.

That’s not the whole story. It gets better.

It was only my first or second time at this particular bar, but she had been there for thirty-two nights in a row. She and her best friend were going for a combined personal record. It was her initiative and dedication to the endeavor that drew me to her. We were both college students in San Luis Obispo, CA, and she was working at a pizza place that summer. She would get off work at midnight and meet her friend at Bull’s Tavern to shut the place down. We met one evening, talked until closing, and said goodnight.

I thought she was really neat-o, so having heard about their record-breaking attendance goal, I had a good idea of where I might find her again the next evening. After missing her a few times, between the bar and the pizza place, we finally connected, and had another delightful evening of bar-booth conversation. This was the kind of bar where “delightful conversation” means you sat in a red Naugahyde booth, taking turns shouting into each other’s ears, in an attempt to carry on a conversation over the AC/DC blaring out of the jukebox.

After the last-call light came on at two A.M. – this was back when we could stay up until two A.M. – we walked back to the pizza place where my truck was parked, and carried on our conversation in the cab of my Ford F150. By about three A.M. I had convinced her that kissing me wouldn’t be so bad, and just when I was about to plant one on her, a sonic boom came rolling down the street. It would have been much cooler if we had heard the explosion as we kissed, but you just can’t plan for these kinds of things.

She said, and I quote, “That sounded like a twelve-gauge!”

I replied, scoffing-ly, “There is no way that was a twelve-gauge shotgun. It was probably just a car backfiring.” In my head I was thinking, Cool. She knows her shotguns. But that couldn’t have been a shotgun.

Roughly four minutes later a barefoot man in a bathrobe came walking down the street carrying a twelve-gauge shotgun.

Now, if I can paint the scene for you - It is past three o’clock in the morning, and the town has completely shut down. We are the only car parked on the street, directly across from the pizza parlor. The only other car that we can see belongs to a police officer who is parked in a parking lot across the intersection from the pizza place. The police officer is standing outside of his car, chatting with a man on a bicycle. They have apparently not heard the big bang and seem very relaxed. The pizza place is located on the corner of the intersection, and the man in the bathrobe with the heavy artillery is walking past the pizza place, toward the cop, but neither one of them can see the other yet. We are parked across the street and have a clear view of both of them, and a pretty good idea of what is about to happen. Between the five of us, we are the only people still awake in the whole town, and two of us are a whole lot more awake than we were a minute ago.

The bathrobe-clad gentlemen rounded the corner and came into view of the police officer, and they saw each other at about the same time. We were positioned at just the wrong angle, so when the cop drew his weapon, he was pointing it right at us. We both did that thing where you slide down below the dashboard in case the bullets start flying, but foolishly keep your head up high enough to see, because you don’t want to miss the action.

The policeman immediately started asking the nice man to kindly set his shotgun down. By “kindly asking,” I mean he instantly began shouting, “Drop the #$*%&@ gun right now! Drop it, #$@*&%!!!” I thought he was handling himself very well given the surprising circumstance he had just found himself in. The bicyclist he had been talking to before the rude interruption did something that still to this day I cannot believe, even though I saw it with my own two barely-visible-above-the-dashboard eyes. He dropped his bike to the ground and fit himself completely underneath the front bumper of the police cruiser. Next time you see an old 1990s police cruiser, take a look at the ground clearance. I think it might have been Houdini himself in that bike helmet.

Well, the nice man with the twelve-gauge didn’t drop his gun right away. He just sort of stood there, trying to have a conversation with the cop. He was holding the gun at a forty-five-degree angle toward the ground, not exactly pointing it at the cop, but not exactly pointing it away from him, either. As the police officer walked closer and closer to the man, yelling commands louder and louder, I was sure we were about to witness something very unpleasant on what had, otherwise, been a really nice night.

Thankfully, for everyone involved, the man finally decided to set his shotgun gently on the ground, and seconds later, the police officer set his knee not-so-gently on the man’s neck, and the stand-off was over. As Captain Bathrobe was led to the police car and Harry Houdini extricated himself from underneath the Caprice Classic, I started the truck and drove my date home in stunned silence.

Fortunately, she didn’t hold the incident against me, and we continued to see each other. We searched the local paper for two weeks straight after that night for some mention of the incident, partially to prove to people that we weren’t making it up, but mostly to find out for ourselves what we had seen. Why was there a man firing a shotgun in sleepy, downtown San Luis Obispo, and why was he then walking the streets with that shotgun, barefoot, in a bathrobe? We never found a single mention of it, and to this day, have no idea what happened.

We graduated, parted ways, and met again six years later at a mutual college friend’s housewarming party. We have been together ever since.

After meeting her father, I finally understood her knowledge of shotguns. And after getting to know my father-in-law, I had a strong suspicion that he and my wife might have known more about that night than they were letting on. He was a great guy, and he may have been accused a time or two of being “slightly overprotective” of his only daughter.

Now, he certainly wasn’t a bathrobe type of guy, but he did own a number of twelve-gauge shotguns, and if he was in town visiting and staying at a hotel, he would have had easy access to a nice terrycloth robe.

Where exactly was he that night? Out looking for his little girl, perhaps?

She still claims it wasn’t him, but she always smiles when she says it… I remain skeptical.

I also remain very thankful to have lived through that night and been able to celebrate eighteen amazing years of marriage.

Happy anniversary, baby!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Low Percentage Mail

I got a letter from Norma the other day. I don’t know Norma, but she told me in the letter that she was disappointed that she couldn’t come visit me at my home. She had planned to show up at my door, but unfortunately, COVID-19 is keeping her away.

I say “unfortunately” in the sense of unfortunate for her, not for me. I wasn’t interested in ever having Norma come to my door, because in the third sentence of her letter she explained that she’s a Jehovah’s Witness.

Had Norma’s wish for a home visit been possible, I would have had to get up from my desk at 10:30 in the morning, gone downstairs and told the dog to be quiet, answered the door with the anticipation and excitement of getting an Amazon package that I’d forgotten about ordering, been wildly disappointed in seeing that Norma was not wearing a reflective vest or holding a mysterious Amazon package, been even more disappointed when I learned that Norma was a Jehovah’s Witness, and then been forced to make up a lie about why I can’t talk right now but would love to have a pamphlet.

I’m too naturally polite to just say “scram,” so I always have to manufacture a lie instead. I usually go with “horrible communicable disease ravaging our home,” which is rather ironic with regard to Norma.

Instead of having the pleasure of being shooed off my porch with the fake threat of infection, an actual threat of infection has forced Norma to find a computer font that appears as if she actually penned me a letter in lovely cursive handwriting. I don’t know how much of her day that took up, or if has a bunch of fonts they can use, but either way, it’s a big deal. Printer ink is much more expensive than pen ink.

In addition to the huge financial outlay on printer ink, Norma had to pay for postage to send me the nice note letting me know that the bible is great, but is even better. Then Norma had to take my letter to the post office to mail it. Ostensibly, that would not have been a huge burden, since her return address is a local post office box, so she should have been going there anyway to get her mail.

But the way she wrote her return address made me think that Norma might not even be from my state, let alone my city. She abbreviated California "Calif."

That is a dead giveaway. I am fairly certain that there is no Californian, living or dead, that has ever used "Calif" to abbreviate our state. And if they have, they should be forced to move. Perhaps north, to Orego or Washi.

And honestly, even if Norma is local and she just didn't notice the insane “Calif” autocorrect error on her hand-written letter, I don’t know if she really wants to come to my door or not. But as a member of the JW’s, she is certainly obligated to do so. But with so much time at home now, spending presumably less than half of her day typing out hand-written letters to non JW’s, I would have thought Norma would have had time to reflect and come to the same conclusion I came to a long time ago. Namely that it just doesn’t make any sense for Jehovah’s Witnesses to try to recruit new members.

Once I learned what they believe, I've never understood why they continued to show up at my door. One of the main beliefs that separates the JW's from everyone else is they think only 144,000 people actually get to go to heaven. Not 144 billion or even 144 million. One hundred and forty-four THOUSAND. I mean, never mind how many people were JW's that have already died, what about just the current membership?

Based on how often they come to my door during non-COVID months, I have to assume we have at least six thousand of them just in my little town in California. I mean, how plain do the numbers need to be?

What do the strategy meetings sound like? “Hey everyone, let's get out there and severely reduce our already 0.00000000000000001% chance of getting into heaven. Goooo team!”

I’m just saying, Norma, if I was part of an organization that told me my job was to do as much as possible to narrow my odds of getting into heaven, I don’t think I’d be part of that organization for long.

I certainly wouldn’t spend my own money on printer ink and postage for them!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

High on the Hog

This just in from the Italy news desk - Feral Pigs Eat and Destroy $22,000 Worth of Cocaine Hidden in Italian Forest

You heard me right. Coked-up pigs.

The incident actually took place in November of 2019, but Italy has been so busy dealing with the chaotic aftermath of wild boars on cocaine, they were only now able to get the news out to the world.

Police report that a drug gang consisting of three Albanians and one Italian, with a combined IQ of room temperature, attempted to hide their stash by burying it in the forest. Apparently, this gang of geniuses did not get the memo that the Italian countryside was already being ravaged by wild boar, so they decided to make it much worse by giving them industrial stimulants.  

Police say the drugs originally came from Perugia, which is obviously a made-up name since this is still an active investigation. REALLY active! The cocaine was hidden in the Tuscan forest near Montepulciano (literally translated: “multiple pigs”), while being peddled around the happening party scenes in Arezzo and Siena.

Police first became suspicious when a highway patrol officer clocked a pig running at over 200 miles per hour (4700 kilometer per hour) on the A1. Shortly afterward, reports began to flood in from local farmers.

Mario deVino, a local winemaker, reported seeing two hogs completely destroy his eighty-acre vineyard in just six minutes. “They were a blur,” he told the police. “And they didn't stop there. After they were done digging up all my vines and eating the grapes, they busted through the door to the wine cellar and drank eighty-five bottles of chianti. And not those little American-size bottles, either. They downed eighty-five of our Italian-size restaurant table bottles! You know, the ones we wrap in wicker for no discernable reason.”

The economic losses don’t stop in the countryside. Closer to the big cities, thefts of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis have increased six thousand percent since the cocaine stash was discovered by the swine.

In the cities of Arezzo and Siena, shop owners are reporting wild boars breaking through their front windows and stealing gold chains and open-collared silk shirts. “This was to be expected,” Siena Chief of Police Mario Copalatta told the press. “That’s kind of the standard uniform if you’re going to be driving a Lambo and doing blow.”

Nightclubs have had to bar their doors because of multiple incidents of cocaine-fueled party pigs “hogging” the dance floors, harassing the female patrons, and drinking all the vodka while refusing to pay, reportedly shouting things like, “Why would I have to pay? I own this %$#*& town!”

And unfortunately, the problem seems to be fueling itself. Tuscan wildlife biologist Mario Animalia reported that the population of wild piglets has increased tenfold in just two months. “The standard gestation period for pigs is four months,” Mario stated, “but the cocaine even appears to have sped that up. It’s the perfect storm. The pigs are going “hog wild,” as you Americans say, and the babies are being born twice as fast.”

At the current rate of spread, officials believe Italy will be completely overrun with coked-up hogs in less than a year. While France, Switzerland, and Austria frantically attempt to build boar-resistant border fences, the inevitable spread may not just be contained to the land routes.

Adriatic Sea captains have already reported spotting “really fast” swimming hogs heading offshore from the Italian coast. Presumably, they are attempting to swim to Albania or Greece to find more cocaine.

Notably, Slovenia, on Italy’s northeastern border, reports having no intention of building a border fence. Slovenian Minister of Tourism Marko Discoteca told reporters, “Hey, man, we’re not gonna tell these hogs they can’t come party in Slovenia. We love to party. We love visitors. We love to have a good time. We’re not called Slovenia for no reason. ‘Love’ is our middle name, baby!”

Back in Rome, the Vatican leaders, ever the optimists, see a semblance of hope. The Pope issued a formal call to all Italian Muslims and Jews to consider a temporary lifting of the pork dietary ban. “We might be able to chew our way out of this, if we all work together,” said Vatican spokesman Mario St. Duomo.

Indeed, prosciutto sales are up drastically all across Tuscany. “It’s amazing! We don’t even have to age it,” said Arezzo deli owner Mario Coldcuttia. “It’s already tenderized from all the dancing and whatnot, and completely marinated in red wine and vodka. It’s the best ham we’ve ever had. Everyone who tries it immediately comes back for more.”

That could be the way out. After all, it shouldn’t take too much to convince the country of Italy to take a little extra time for lunch.

Good luck, Italy. Buona fortuna.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Second Open Letter to the School District

Dear folks in charge of the decision making down at the School District,

When I last wrote you in April, I pleaded for you to refrain from having a “spring break” from COVID distance learning when we were all still required to be inside our homes, instead of outside at a beach the way our forefathers intended. You failed to heed my request and went ahead with a pointless week of kids in the house with nothing to do, leading to much of our furniture being broken by wrestling teenagers.

That was one example in a long line of decisions on your part that has left me underwhelmed by your educational stewardship of our youth, not to mention your regard for our home furnishings. And now, here we are at another pivotal decision point.

The California Department of Education has recently released its recommendations for how this coming school year might begin. This represents a massive opportunity for you to redeem yourselves in the eyes of the parents, teachers, coaches, and students, by wholeheartedly rejecting every single one of the asinine ideas they came up with when they weren’t over in the corner of the capitol building eating paste or sniffing their highlighters.

Apparently, the folks in Sacramento are aware that we have children living here in the state, but have never actually met one in person. That’s the only explanation for what they came up with.

I won’t bore you with all sixty-two pages of the recommendation, because, frankly, I didn’t bore myself with them. I stopped reading after the first one or two points in the summary. Just glancing at the summary was enough to surmise that the other sixty-one pages must consist largely of legislative crayon scribbles and drool stains.

Here’s where I stopped reading:

“The guidance asks schools to try to keep students six feet apart at all times — in class, in the hallways and at recess.”


So, in order to maintain the six-feet-apart requirement, they plan to limit classes to between ten and fifteen students at a time, or perhaps hold traditional sized classes in much larger auditorium-style classrooms they will build quickly for every elementary, middle, and high school in the state in the next seven weeks.

If they stick with the existing classrooms, I’m assuming all classroom doors will be widened to a minimum of ninety feet to accommodate all fifteen students at once, as per standard student classroom entry protocol. Class times will obviously need to be extended to account for the half hour it will take to open and close the massive door.

Individual learning and problem explanation will now take place between the teacher and student from six feet apart using a long stainless steel pointer that rests, when not in use, next to the teacher’s desk in a fifty-five-gallon drum of hand sanitizer. Teachers over the age of thirty will be issued binoculars as well to be able to read the student’s paper or computer screen from six feet away.

In order to keep the students six feet apart in the hallways and at recess, each student will be assigned an Individual Student Social Distance Monitor adult to follow them around all day (from six feet away) to make sure they stay properly socially distanced. Since this will double the amount of people on campus (all needing to stay six feet apart), all campuses will immediately be doubled in size and all classrooms will be moved twice as far apart.

Individual Student Social Distance Monitor applications are now being accepted. Background checks are being waived due to the sheer amount of adults required. Since all of this on-campus social distancing is obviously a moot point if the students don’t continue it off-campus once the final bell rings, the ISSDM is a full-time, 24/7 position including room and board at your assigned student’s residence.

Each campus will also be adding multiple “screamer” positions. Screamers will be placed high in trees, man lifts, balconies, etc. and are in charge of yelling at everyone when they forget to stay six feet apart.

Kindergarten through third grade will go to a one-to-one teacher/student ratio in order to give the ISSDM’s a break during class time but still maintain proper in-class separation. Class sizes will be reduced to a maximum of seven students to fit everyone in with proper spacing. Traditional teaching credential requirements are also being waived to accommodate the huge numbers of new teachers required.

Among the many other expansions required, elementary campuses will need to add four times as many K-3 classrooms. An alternative to this would be to maintain current campus facilities and elongate the K-3 curriculum to a sixteen-year program. This could be beneficial since the elementary students would also be qualified to act as ISSDM adults by the end of second grade.


Listen, School District Folks, you have the opportunity to garner the love, affection, and possibly even respect of a vast majority of those involved here. Tell the State of California to kindly kiss your ass and send kids back to normal school in August.

For once, please think about this logically. Those parents that think returning to normal in August is a terrible idea are PARENTS. They have met kids before. They already logically know this idiotic plan won’t keep kids from being all over each other, and they’re already making other plans for their children’s education.

The rest of us are begging you. Please don’t waste more of our money. Please don’t make the teachers’ jobs harder than they already are. Please don’t continue to diminish our students’ education with distance learning or less days on campus. And, overall, please don’t punish our kids in the process. We want them to go to school, not jail.

In short, we need them out of the house!

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Unlimited Life

My family and I were living a cramped, restricted life before we made the change and set ourselves free. No, I’m not talking about boxers vs. briefs. We finally signed up for the unlimited cell plan.

I guess it’s a matter of perspective. I mean, I remember when cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and I used to get a phone bill with long distance charges. That’s right kids, it used to cost more – way more – to call someone in another area code. It was like thirty cents a minute to call someone in another state. And you had to dial a 1 before the number! It was crazy.

And don’t even get me started on calling someone in another country! Not only was there a delay that made it almost necessary to say “over,” as if you were using a CB radio, but it cost three bucks a minute. And keep in mind, those were ‘70s and ‘80s dollars, so that’s equal to seven hundred bucks a minute today. You didn’t call your relatives in England just to shoot the breeze. That’s what letters were for. And don’t even get me started on air mail postal rates…

Anyway, it was a big deal when the fist cell phone plan came out with an unlimited calling option. That was back when we used to use our cell phones as actual phones. Now they are more like internet browsing-enabled video cameras that can send text messages and can also be used to make phone calls in an emergency.

But we used to use them to call people, and it was amazing when we no longer had to dial a 1 and we could just talk for as long as we wanted to someone in Montana. In this case, “as long as we wanted” meant about forty-five seconds until the call was dropped, because cell phone calls didn’t work very well at all. And also, there was no cell reception anywhere in Montana.

Then came texting. Believe it or not kids, when texting first came about, no one used it because you had to hit the same button seventeen times to make a capital “A,” and if you accidentally hit it eighteen times, it became a Greek alpha, an exclamation point, or an apostrophe.

Then along came the Blackberry, that had the entire regular keyboard on the front of it so you could finally text real words. The only problem was the keys were so small that if you were born with human thumbs you were physically unable to hit less than four of the buttons at once, so texting had to wait a little longer.

Finally, the screen became the buttons and we could text! I texted someone for the first time in my thirties and immediately hated it. Why would anyone decide to type out what you wanted to say instead of just calling them? I have unlimited calling minutes, for goodness sake!

But you crazy kids stuck with it and made it mainstream, and now I get frustrated if I need to actually call someone instead of texting them. My unlimited calling minutes mean nothing to me anymore. You can have them. My unlimited texts, however, are gold.

When texting began, we had a plan that had a certain amount of free texts and then ten cents per text if we went over. It worked at first, because no one my age texted each other. Then it got more popular, and pretty soon my wife was using up our free text allotment by the first Tuesday of the month.

Unlimited texts plans became a necessity for us before Son Number One got a phone, but that definitely would have forced the issue. An American teenager can send two thousand texts per hour, just to one other kid from their school that they don’t even really hang out with.

So, we added our first teenager to our cell plan, and entered into the epic battle with the last cell phone bill hurdle – DATA. As the phones got smaller and the technology got better, our data usage began a steady climb. By the time Son Number One got his first phone and thirty seconds later started streaming nine straight hours of YouTube videos, we were up to the largest limited data plan they offered.

We set a data cap for his phone and purchased a Costco-size tub of earplugs to put in every time he reached his data limit and came to us to whine about how unfair life was under our roof. We had to restock the earplugs a few times, but never the data.

Then along came Son Number Two. Limited data was simply no longer an option. I called our carrier and offered to trade them my unlimited call minutes for unlimited data, but they weren’t interested. So, it came time to bite the cellular bullet and go completely unlimited.

I fought it for as long as I could, but once I swallowed the bitter pill of my monthly bill increase, I have not looked back. Going unlimited has been one of the best experiences of my life. I was not expecting, and cannot really explain the feeling of total freedom it gives me.

There were times in the past when someone in the family would accidentally turn off their Wi-Fi for days at a time. I won’t mention any names, but her initials are “My Wife.” I eventually stopped pulling my hair out over how that could happen and just accepted the fact that she used our entire month of mobile data while in our living room. Do I worry about that now? Heck no!

What’s the Wi-Fi password here? Who cares!? We have unlimited data.

Are the boys streaming videos in the car? What do I care? We have unlimited.

Does the Candy Crush game that runs nearly constantly on a road trip connect to the internet to download ads? I have an unlimited plan that says I don’t care anymore!

Is that movie in 3G? 4GLTE? 5G? Who knows and who cares? Hey movie, you take as many G’s, L’s, T’s, and E’s as you need. We have an unlimited amount. Get yourself a BLT while you’re at it.

I’m drunk with power. I have a movie streaming on my phone right now that I’m not even watching. I download things now just because I can.

Our teenagers have turned unlimited data into a competition. They give me regular updates on how much data they have used and argue with each other about who used more and how fast they used it. I am strangely proud of them.

Hmm… You know, come to think of it, while unlimited is amazing, it might not be all that healthy.

Once this initial rush wears off, we might need to think about buying another gross of earplugs and putting limits back on the boys.

And probably on ourselves, too.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

COVID-19 Shutdown Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 82

Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 82

Summer starts tomorrow. The school district said the last day of “school” was actually last Friday, but that’s a load of crap.

The original last day of school was on the calendar for tomorrow, June 4th, and I’ll be damned if I’m letting my kids off the hook. Since the schools stopped giving them work, I had to make up my own for this week.

We are having a Home Economics class, involving studying the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and making us dinners. I’m teaching an engineering course on Fluid Dynamics, involving studying all the owner’s manuals for our pool equipment and also skimming the leaves out of the pool. And we’re hosting a work/study program on Urban Housing and Development, which consists mostly of cleaning out our garage.

Tomorrow is our official last day of homeschool, and we will probably just abandon any attempts at learning and eat cupcakes and sign yearbooks. “Yearbooks” in this case will probably just be Post-it notes, since we don’t have their actual yearbooks yet and they don’t want their brothers writing “YOU SUCK!” in them anyway.

We will be teaching one last class tomorrow if any of our boys decide to partake in the time-honored tradition of taking their binders apart and flinging their paperwork all around the homeschool. In that case, their last elective of the homeschool year will be the Janitorial Arts.

The last day of school is always a minimum day, so at noon we will officially mark the end of this ridiculous, idiotic distance learning catastrophe, and we will begin our summer. After 83 days of forced homeschooling three teenage boys, if someone tries to tell us we can’t go on summer vacation, they are going to be invited to a PE class where my three testosterone-y boys introduce them to street tackle dodgeball sumo fistfight, or as it’s more commonly known around here, afternoon.

We are getting in the car and leaving for summer vacation on Friday. I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t care. We might just drive until we run out of gas and camp in a ditch. That sounds amazing.

And I swear on my life, or more to the point, on my children’s lives since they will not live through another homeschooling adventure, if our administrators try to tell us we’re not going back to normal next year, I’m bringing a street tackle dodgeball sumo fistfight game to the district office.

All of your teenagers are invited to join.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

48 at 48

I turned 48 years old a few days ago. I would assume that sneaking up on 50 gets some people depressed, but for me it was a happy occasion, because up until three or four days before my birthday I thought I was turning 49, so when I actually did the math I got a bonus year. I’m sure I’ve taken many years off my life through bad diet and exercise choices, but never mathematically.

Getting old obviously has its advantages, and they say with age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, I wish that were more true. Nonetheless, in honor of living through another trip around the sun, I have added to my list of thoughts, observations, and acquired “wisdom.”

Here it is - one for each year. You’re welcome, America.

1.  There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who prefer the toilet paper to come off the top of the roll, and those who are wrong.

2.  If we could somehow collect the amount of time, energy, and money expended on the fact that Harry and Meghan renounced the throne, I’m convinced we could cure at least one of the cancers.

3.  The three-second rule has a lot of leeway depending on if what you dropped was the last one.

4.  People who say things like, “We’re going to cross-functionalize and parallel task your mission-critical bandwidth,” don’t understand what they’re saying any more than you do.

5.  I dance like I just walked into a spider web.

6.  Pi and the circumference of a circle have a similar relationship to pie and the circumference of a person.

7.  Here’s the main difference between men and women: Men can look at an ad for women's underwear and get excited. I’m not talking about women in underwear, just the underwear itself. Women do not get excited looking at pictures of boxer shorts.

8.  You are wholeheartedly fooling yourself if you think the government is efficient at anything except taking your money.

9.  The clearest evidence that capitalism beats communism is that Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos both own multiple space rockets. Suck it, North Korea.

10.  If you give enough money to the right charities, you will never have to buy address labels again.

11.  Owning a pool in the winter is like making payments on your new snowmobiles all summer.

12.  You cannot use the phrase, “To be honest with you...”  without giving the listener the impression you aren’t always being honest.

13.  When pulling a stump out of your front yard with a chain and your truck, make sure the roots don’t have ahold of your water main. Trust me.

14.  When packing thirteen suitcases into the car for your wife, is it impossible to have ten of them be “on top” so she can get to them easily.

15.  If one of my boys saw their brother in a fight, I'm certain they would jump in and help. I'm just not sure which side they'd be on.

16.  You can ask someone to do something, or you can tell them how you want it done, but you can’t do both.

17.  A good indicator of where you are in life is this: Does the advertisement of free food still affect your decision making?

18.  Fabric softener sheets go in the dryer, not the washer. Just FYI. I’m not saying I didn’t know that.

19.  There is no “t” or “t” sound in the word across. There is no “b” or “b” sound in the word supposedly. Please pronounce accordingly.

20.  Men are far more likely to clean things with spit than women are.

21.  Money and toilet paper have something in common – They’re both easy to take for granted until you run out. Also, in totally opposite, but equally dire situations, they can be substituted for each other.

22.  There are very few things in life that can make you feel as special as the phrase, “or current resident.”

23.  If you ask any guy to tell you a story about a time he almost died, he will have four stories just off the top of his head, and one will be from this year. If you ask women the same question, most of them will look at you like you’re crazy.

24.  One sure sign of getting old – When you start sitting down to put on your pants.

25.  Children and ceiling fans are simply incompatible. It’s science.

26.  In life, it is very important to remember where you are and why you're there. That way, when your podiatrist tells you to drop your shorts, you’ll ask some questions first.

27.  Your dog is convinced it has saved you from being murdered at least a thousand times by barking at the front window, yet you remain completely ungrateful.

28.  Hold out as long as you can before putting on your first pair of magnifying “reader” glasses. The second you do, your eyes give up like a marathoner crossing the finish line.

29.  People who don’t use their cruise control on the freeway should be pulled over and water-boarded.

30.  Politicians and salesmen have something in common - If they say anything enough times, they think it must be true.

31.  Pointing out that Van Gogh’s “girlfriend” was actually a prostitute during a fifth-grade art docent lesson is not helpful for anyone involved. I’m not saying I did this, and I’m not saying I didn’t do this – I just want you to know.

32.  You cannot claim to be a grown woman, fully capable of taking care of yourself, and also claim that you do not know how to operate a toilet seat.

33.  Speaking of toilets – you really haven’t had the full parenting experience until your five-year-old son wakes you up at 3:00 A.M. and says, “Dad, I dropped my underwear into the toilet while I was peeing.”
So many questions…

34.  Don’t waste your time trying to have a logical conversation with a teenager. Their brains are physically incapable of sustained logic. Instead, just give them healthy food in large quantities and cross your fingers that they leave your house at some point in your lifetime.

35.  “To be or not to be” is not the question. The real question is which towel in the guest bathroom am I allowed to use to dry my hands?

36.  Give a boy enough time with any object, whether it be a stale Cheerio, a bouncy ball, a doll, or a book, and he will eventually turn it into a weapon.

37.  Getting passport photos taken at Walmart seems ironic.

38.  I am not even remotely smart enough to imagine, design, build, understand, or fix a single part of my smartphone, but I still have the gall to get very cranky and entitled when it doesn’t work perfectly.

39.  The idiots who wear their pants down below their butts and have to waddle with their legs spread to keep their pants from falling to the ground are the same idiots who are most likely to try to run from the police at some point. That makes me smile.

40.  Scientists recently discovered that female dragonflies will fake their own death to avoid mating with males. I’ll bet all the married scientists were like, “Yup.”

41.  The person who invented the hotel shower curtain rod that curves out away from the tub so the shower curtain doesn’t stick to your arm should receive the Nobel prize.

42.  The problem with creating independent, strong-willed adults is that you have to live with independent, strong-willed children.

43.  Guys, do you ever have trouble figuring out if you’ve had too much to drink? Here’s a handy guideline:
“There is no way I can scratch that itch on my ankle while I’m standing here peeing, so I will not try.” – You’re still OK
“I can totally do it without peeing on myself.” – You’re drunk

44.  A kid’s definition of “pool toy” is different than an adult’s. We think of pool toys as something designed to be played with in a pool. They define “pool toy” as anything they own, if it happens to be brought into the pool. Like a bike or a sandwich.

45.  No matter who you are, no matter where you're from, there is one shared experience that binds us all together as one people: The sheer horror of the ketchup or mustard water falling from the unshaken bottle and ruining your perfect bun. I feel your pain.

46.  If you are looking to try it, kombucha is an acquired taste. Meaning you have to acquire one of those long skinny cheese graters and completely scrape all the taste buds off your tongue. Then you can drink it.

47.  If you have to choose, it makes more sense to become a strong swimmer than a strong runner. You don’t automatically die when you stop running.

48. We recently went with a group of friends to a new axe throwing place that served alcohol. I don’t care how many waivers I need to sign – that is a step in the right direction for America!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Fifteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I know that since you can’t visit schools this spring, you are all probably working from home and finally reading the fourteen previous letters I’ve graciously sent you over the years to help you improve your business model. (Cliff Notes on my last letter, in case you’re super-busy like me: Hiring photographers from the DMV or the passport office would be a great start.)

I’m writing again today not to offer you more amazing and free advice on how to improve your little photography hobby shop over there, but simply to let you know that I’m sad.

I am sad that we can’t be together this spring. I know you feel the same way, because you send me weekly emails expressing the same sentiment. You reassure me that you are here for me in these troubled and unprecedented times.

You remind me that you “love being a place where you can capture memories, stay connected to your loved ones, and build community,” and that “in the midst of COVID-19, and school closings, we will continue to be that place where you can share & connect.”

I mean, I don’t miss you that way. Sure, you have certainly captured some memories for me over the years, but they were mostly memories of how bad you are with hair, shirt collars, food stuck to faces, getting kids to smile, and just general photography of humans.

As far as helping people stay connected to loved ones and build community, I have no idea how you ever did that or plan on ever doing that, but cool.

No, the reason I miss you is because it’s spring, and spring has always been the time when you took pictures of my kids that I never authorized, never asked for in any way, and never wanted at all.

Despite all that, you diligently took spring photos of my boys in their best stained T-shirts and soccer shorts, and promptly printed and sent me reams and reams of pictures that I still hadn’t authorized, ordered, asked for, or wanted in any way.

This spring is special, and the fact that we won’t be together this year is breaking my heart. You see, we’ve been quarantined, and the boys haven’t had haircuts in three months. This year’s spring pictures could have been epic.

I could have bought a “vote for Pedro” shirt for Son Number Two, given him bigger glasses, and convinced him to stare into the camera with an idiotic mouth-breather expression. Uncanny.

We could have put zinc oxide all over Son Number Three’s nose and sent him to school in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. He has loads of blond hair and he already has a natural dazed look of utter confusion, so it would have been awesome.

Son Number One’s hair has gotten the craziest, so we naturally would have had to go all out with him. His hair is dark and turns out to be curly when grown out, so he has developed a pretty decent afro for a white kid. Money would have been no object.

I would have bought him a yellow number ten soccer jersey and invested in some quality glue-on mustache options to be sure we got the look just right. A trip to the salon to get those frosted blonde highlights just right and maybe perm out those ring curls a little and he would have been amazing.

You surely understand now why I am so distraught. By doing nothing other than paying attention to when picture day was and making sure they were dressed appropriately, you would have automatically provided me with glossy copy after copy of a perfect not-exactly-red-headed Napoleon Dynamite, a pint-sized Jeff Spicoli, and a truly glorious young Carlos Valderrama.

I still wouldn’t have paid you for them, but I would have definitely kept them this year!

I actually miss you. Who woulda thought, huh?

See you in the fall,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID-19 Shutdown Forced Homeschool Parent Log - Day 61

Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 61

Everyone is still here. In the house. With me. All day. Every day. All of the minutes.

I had high hopes when the stay at home order was first announced. I was going to be sooo productive. Oh, the books I would write. Oh, the to-do lists I would smash. What great shape I was going to get in.

I laugh now, thinking about the optimistic, starry-eyed kid I was back then. Boy, was I fooling myself. I have a hard time even scheduling a shower now. Or at least, a hard time summoning the will to shower.

I exercised pretty regularly those first few weeks, if twice can be considered “regularly.” Those days are long gone. Cardio now only comes in the form of walking up the stairs in our house. I limit my trips between floors as much as possible each day because there are seventeen damn stairs and they are tiring.

I have toyed with the idea of moving my computer downstairs and just sleeping on the couch to eliminate the stairs altogether, but the computer looks heavy. And there are a lot of wires and stuff. Never mind.

My days have been whittled down to one single to-do item – get Son Number Three to log onto his ten A.M. school video call every day. So far, we are batting less than .500. The other two boys may also have school meetings they are missing, but I lack the energy to get involved, or even care.

My wife might want to help with our own kids, but she simply can’t. She’s in charge of attempting to get her high school math students to care about their own online learning. It’s a lot like trying to get a colony of baboons to care about online learning. Most days you’re just ducking the flying poop.

Organized meal planning and preparation has ceased. We have lapsed into unscheduled free-range grazing. We would buy larger clothes if any stores were open, so we exist only in sweatpants.

Despite their blank stares and drooling, the boys have somehow caught on to our ruse of keeping them away from us by getting “high COVID readings” on my old Blackberry phone I told them was my “COVID meter.” My wife and I are now forced to leave the house if we want to get away from them, but that’s a lot of work. Noise-canceling headphones are now being used instead.

The boys desperately need haircuts. They have passed the point of “shaggy” and have moved into “downright embarrassing.” Perhaps if they would shower more, the unkempt eagle’s nests that are being called hair would look a little better, but sadly, we may never know. I don’t even have the drive to take my own shower, let alone harp on a teenage boy long enough to get one to wash himself. I’m just doubling up on the weekly pool chlorine and hoping for the best.

That’s all for now. Just trying to stay positive and looking forward to Day 62, or Armageddon. Either one will do.

Nap time now. Boys, go downstairs and get me a snack! Boys! Boys?

Dammit, I think they got ahold of our noise-canceling headphones again.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

Check out The Smidge Page on Facebook. We like you, now like us back!

Also visit Marc’s Author Page  for all his books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cinco de Murder Hornets

I’m just going to come out and say it. Worst Cinco de Mayo ever. Not only are we all still locked in our houses for fear of the mysterious COVID-19, that may either give you a mild case of the sniffles or kill you instantly, but now we have murder hornets to worry about. Gone are the carefree days of taquitos and cheap Mexican beer variety packs.

The insect no one asked for, the Asian Giant Hornet, affectionately nicknamed the Murder Hornet, has arrived in Washington state. They are a treat. They grow to almost two inches long – you read that correctly – and between two and fifty murder hornets can wipe out a hive of thousands of honeybees in just hours. In one recorded attack on a hive, each hornet killed one bee every fourteen seconds, “using powerful mandibles to decapitate its prey.” The massive hornets literally bite the heads off the bees.

Fortunately, Asian honeybees have figured out a solution to this problem. They clump together by the hundreds around a single murder hornet and vibrate – yes, vibrate – which somehow, through mysterious bee vibration witchcraft, produces heat. It can get up to one hundred and fifteen degrees inside a vibrating ball of Asian honeybees, which cooks the hornet, but not the superiorly heat-resistant bees.

Unfortunately, however, we don’t have Asian honeybees. We have European honeybees here in the United States, which don’t possess the same instinct, or perhaps ability, to vibration-cook a hornet. So, our bees just try to sting them, which doesn’t work, because the murder hornets have an armored suit not unlike a tiny flying stormtrooper. Our stupid bees are still busy trying to sting them unsuccessfully when they get their heads bitten clean off.

And forget our bees, for a second, which are the pollination keystone to virtually all our food. Never mind all that. Murder hornets can kill people. Yay!

It’s not all bad news, however. The arrival of the murder hornet could start a new food and drink craze here. The Japanese eat them, which is said to leave a “pleasant tingling and numbing sensation” in the mouth.

No thanks.

They also make Murder Hornet Liquor. Apparently, when you drown a murder hornet in alcohol, right before it dies it releases all its venom. The clear liquor is then aged until the venom turns it amber, then sold for ridiculously high prices at bars, mostly to middle-age men, who – this is my shocked face regarding any story out of Japan involving middle-age men – believe it makes them “more sexually potent.”

Yeah, that’s how that works, middle-aged Japanese guy. Good call.

Putting aside the exciting new food service industry and male enhancement options available to us, you may be asking yourself, “How and why has the Asian Murder Hornet of Death arrived on U.S. soil?”

Great question, concerned citizen. Scientists are “mystified.” The hornets can’t fly over from Asia, and experts think they probably didn’t arrive by cargo ship because they are so aggressive – and freakin’ huge – the crew surely would have encountered them.

I’m not sure why the scientists are mystified. The answer to how and why the murder hornets are here is obvious. They were obviously brought here from Wuhan, China as a COVID-19 deflection tactic.

Deep inside the Wuhan virus lab, the following meeting obviously took place:

Look, guys, we need to do something to get the heat off us. The U.S. is not letting up about this whole COVID thing.

What can we do?

Hmm… another virus?

No, too risky. The last one was gnarly.

Right. Good call. What about another invasive species? Those have been great.

Yes! Now we’re talking. OK, what do we have left here in Asia that we haven’t sent?

Well, let’s see. We already sent the Burmese python. That’s been eating everything in Florida for years.

The Zebra mussel has been clogging their pipes and dams for a while now, and we already sent the Asian longhorn beetle. It’s killing healthy trees like a spider monkey with a chainsaw.

How about a fish?

Nah, we already sent the Asian carp. It jumps into moving boats and knocks people unconscious. Hilarious! But I just don’t feel right about sending another fish after the whole Northern Snakehead thing. That is one crazy mother. Four feet long with a mouth full of teeth and no natural predators is one thing, but the fact that it breathes air and can crawl across land from lake to lake is ridiculous, even by Asian animal standards. That was uncool.

Yeah, I almost feel bad about that one. Hmm… let’s see… Oh! I’ve got it! Murder Hornets!! They have those stupid European honeybees over there. The hornets will have a field day.

Yes! Great call. Pack your bags, Lee, while we make you a fake passport. You’re going to Seattle!

It all seems perfectly clear, doesn’t it?

But proof or not, we still got the shaft on Cinco de Mayo and now we have murder hornets to deal with. I guess we could get some Asian honeybees, but that might backfire.

They would probably just end up killing all our sheep or something with gigantic vibrating bee balls.

See you soon,


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