Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Old School Dance

I’m not one hundred percent sure what has changed, but things are definitely different now, and somehow, I blame cell phones.

When I was in junior high we all couldn’t wait to go to the school dances. Nowadays, inexplicably, we have to tell our boys that they are going. “But it’ll be lame. I don’t wanna go!”

Shut up and get in the car.

Kids just don’t seem to want to hang out at school together after hours as much as we did. I think they are simply too connected now. It’s too easy for them to communicate via texting and Facetime, so they don’t see the value in going to the dance.

Do you know what you can’t do with a text? Slow dance with a girl, that’s what! (I don’t even want to think about or discuss what kids can and can’t do with Facetime, so let’s all just not go there.)

Our boys don’t even have phones, so you would think they would crave the socialization, and yet Son Number One’s biggest highlight at the last dance was buying a Snickers bar and two sodas at the snack table. We didn’t have a snack table when I was his age. We danced with girls! At least we talked a lot about dancing with the girls, and sometimes we actually did.

One problem with the current state of affairs at the middle school/junior high dances might be the music. It’s entirely possible that the songs just aren’t as awesome now, and by “entirely possible,” I mean “definitely true.”

Music today just isn’t as good as it was in the mid-eighties, and many of the songs are so digitally enhanced and auto-tuned that even if the dance was cool enough to have a live band, they wouldn’t be able to perform them anyway.

Many of our dances had live music. Rock bands made up of local high school kids that we actually knew or knew of, who could actually play instruments really well, would come to our junior high dances and cover all the cool Top 40 songs by Bryan Adams, Duran Duran, Night Ranger, etc.

If we had actual video tape of the events, which would have been recorded on actual video tape in a camera the size of a Ford Fiesta, I think we would discover that the bands actually sounded pretty bad. But I remember the events as being on par with a real rock concert, only with parent chaperones and no forty-five-dollar T-shirts for sale.   

As long as I live, I will always remember the night when Tim Spangler, one of the mega-cool older high school kids, showed up at our seventh-grade dance to be the guest singer for one song – What I Like About You, by The Romantics.

I had never seen a guest singer show up to sing anything. I didn’t even know “guest singer” was a thing. At the time, however, I thought it was quite simply the coolest possible thing anyone had ever done on earth, ever.

And has there ever been a song in the history of music that makes you want to dance more than What I Like About You, by The Romantics?

Yes, is the obvious answer. It Takes Two, by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock makes you want to dance more, but that wasn’t released until 1988, so at the time in the mid-eighties, What I Like About You was the top dance song.

When that opening guitar hits and the whole band shouts, “Hey!” into their microphones, even the chaperones and the principal get up and dance.

It’s sad that kids don’t have those kind of experiences today. I think there’s only one real solution that makes any sense. I’m obviously going to have to DJ the next dance.

Better bust out my mixed tapes.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Release of Sanity

My grandfather left home to go out on his own at fourteen years old. Those were obviously different times, but now that I’m a father, I think that was very considerate of him. Son Number One will turn fourteen in a couple months, and he shows absolutely no signs of wanting to move out. Rude!

And it doesn’t end there. I just know that if he hangs around, his two younger brothers will follow his lead, continuing to live here and eat our food throughout high school.

Do you know what that means? Do you even realize the implications?

It means I have at least eight more years of filling out liability and medical release forms!

Over the past thirteen-plus years, I have filled out approximately two bazillion forms related to our three boys, and almost six-fifths of them were liability and medical release forms.

Can we just talk about liability release forms for a minute? I’m really hoping that after this discussion we can just be done with them, OK America? Great!

Liability release forms are useless. When I bring my kids to your trampoline fun park, you insist that I sign a document saying that anything that happens to my child under your roof, in your parking lot, or in greater North America is not your fault. I scoff at that idea, but I sign that document anyway, because if I don’t, I can’t leave my kids at your trampoline fun park and sneak away to have twenty stinkin’ minutes with no one yelling to me about how much of a giant butthole their brother is.

You and I both know that document means absolutely nothing if my child gets hurt because of, let’s say, your lack of trampoline maintenance and poor decision making with regard to reptile enclosure placement.

“Your honor, it’s simply not our fault that this man’s son was mauled when our obviously well-past-the-end-of-its-useful-life trampoline ripped and he fell through into our pet alligator’s tank that we placed underneath the trampoline so it would be out of everyone’s way. I mean, they signed the liability release, for crying out loud!”

If I brought my own form stating that you would hold us harmless if my son intentionally burned down your trampoline fun park because he loves barbecued alligator, would you sign it? Of course not. The only reason we parents sign these things is because we all know they won’t hold up in court if your business does something stupid, and we can’t get away from our children unless you take them.

And don’t even get me started on medical release forms. I mean, at least they serve an actual purpose – to communicate any medical concerns to the folks who will be watching our children – but they are still annoying, and here’s why: We are constantly filling out medical release forms for every single activity that our children do, but every organization’s form is “unique,” and they all ask the same exact set of idiotic questions.

We should be able to provide any child caregiver with our own pre-printed medical release form. Ours would be a business card that read:
This is Son Number Three. He is allergic to nothing. You already have my name and phone number or I wouldn’t have given you my kid.

Instead, roughly half my existence on this planet has consisted of filling out the same information on each special medical release form that I am given:

Doctor’s Name:
Doctor’s Address:
Doctor’s Phone Number:
Health Insurance Provider:
Health Insurance Plan Number:

Literally no one within a ten-mile radius of this field trip will ever use any of that information. I have never once been able to actually speak to my sons’ doctor on the phone, yet you want his number? And what on earth are you planning to do with his insurance information?

“Oh, no! That boy has fallen and seems to have broken his arm and he’s bleeding from his ears. Get me his medical release form so we can schedule his next six-month wellness check and hopefully get a flu shot in the same visit.”

It’s time to stop the madness, America. If we all band together and stay strong, we can do it. From now on, when we fill out the medical release forms, over the entire doctor and insurance information section, we’ll just write three numbers with a big black Sharpie marker – 911.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Turning 40

I went to another Human Powertrain Warranty Expiration gathering this weekend. You might know them by the more common term – 40th birthday party.

I’m not sure when the trend began, but the 40th birthday seems to be the really big celebration these days. The spouse of the warranty expiree usually throws a huge party. My wife took me on a surprise three-day weekend getaway with friends. I threw my wife a surprise party at our house with about a million people. We had friends who rented out an entire restaurant. It’s crazy!

The parties are fun, but they are a conflicted celebration at best. What are we really celebrating? No one wanted to turn 40. There has never been a 20- or 30-something on earth who has thought, “Can’t wait to turn 40! That will be amazing!”

Every human approaches “The Big 4-0” with the same thought: “Holy %&*#! I’m about to turn 40! How the hell did that happen!?” Every person under 40 at the party is thinking, “better them than me,” and every guest over 40 is thinking, “that poor bastard has no idea what they’re in for.”

That’s because 40 is the year that your entire body stops working like it used to. Your vision blurs. Your hearing degrades. Your feet and knees hurt. Your tendons and ligaments become brittle and weak, as if your muscles are now attached to your bones with those wooden coffee stir sticks. Your hips ache if you sit for too long. You can cripple your lower back for weeks by stepping off the bottom stair a little weird. You can actually hurt yourself by sleeping.

The 40th birthday is the turning point from “Hey, I’m another year older!” to “Hey, I survived another year!”

Our recent 40-year-old club inductee was treated by her husband to a Mexican cruise to celebrate with friends. We couldn’t make the boat ride, but we were able to attend the follow-up celebration back here, where we all went out bar-hopping. A common theme of 40th birthday parties is to pretend to be able to drink and dance like you’re still 25. This is called the denial phase.

(Although, no matter how deep you are into the denial phase, or how much you want to be young again, if you’re over 40, you’re still thinking, “Why is it so loud in here? I don’t understand why we need all these flashing strobe lights and that fog machine, and I would really appreciate it if we could turn on a few more overhead lights so I don’t kill myself on those steps.”)

The denial phase is fun, but invariably, the reality phase sets in the next day. Case in point: our bar-hopping adventure ended up at a country dance joint called the Crazy Horse, and they had a mechanical bull.

Do you know why there are no mechanical bulls in places like Starbucks, or McDonald’s, where they don’t sell alcohol?

I do.

Do you know why there are no professional rodeo bull riders over the age of 22?

I do.  

Do you know how sore you are the next day after attempting to ride a mechanical bull at one o’clock in the morning?

I have no idea.

You thought I rode it? Ha! Are you crazy? I’m 46. I know better by now!

The birthday girl woke up complaining that her arm was awfully sore, though. And her butt. And legs. And back… Happy birthday! Welcome to the Over-40 club. It was a fun party.

I’d say I can’t wait for your 41st birthday party next year, but let’s be serious… nobody celebrates turning 41.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Thanks, Professor Obvious

I’m seriously thinking about becoming a scientist. Based on two recent news stories, it seems like a really easy job:

Science says women have a more active brain, compared to men

Men tend to lose weight more quickly than women

Wow, that’s some real cutting edge, barn burning research there, Science Team. How do you folks pick your research topics, anyway? Do you have a big list of topics on the wall to choose from, titled, “Obvious stuff on which we should spend no time or money trying to prove”?

I mean, if that’s what you researched, what studies were you forced to forgo due to constraints on your budget and schedule? Are puppies cute? Do people like tacos?

The first article stated that for the brain activity study, scientists from Amen Clinics in Newport Beach, California, went back and looked at over 46,000 brain imaging studies. What an incredible waste of time and money.

Who has the more active brain? That study could have been handled in an afternoon with one married couple. One at a time, sit the woman and the man on a couch and ask them each a simple question, such as, “Are you comfortable right now?”

The woman might start to answer right away, but she will undoubtedly stop herself and begin asking you a series of questions to try to determine exactly what you meant.

“In what context am I being asked to consider my comfort? Do you mean emotionally? Physically? Spiritually? Or do you mean in my role as a mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sibling, friend, leader, follower, volunteer, employee, supervisor, executive, team member, neighbor, or soccer team mom?”

Before any of that is sorted out she will begin to question your motivations for asking the question in the first place. The whole answer will take forty-five minutes, and there will be no actual answer.

The man will answer, “Yes.”

Brain study completed. Cost: Zero dollars and forty-five minutes of your life.

As for the weight loss study, the same husband and wife could have been consulted. Instead, professors from various universities around the world, including the University of Copenhagen (mascot: The Fighting Canker Sores) and the University of Auckland (nickname: NZEwe), took over 2,000 participants and subjected them to an unspeakably cruel diet known as the Cambridge Weight Plan.

The plan involves consuming only 810 calories daily, mostly consisting of juices and shakes. That’s just mean. I think I probably consume 810 calories before I even have my actual breakfast. All that brutal starvation and suffering in the name of science could have been avoided by simply listening to our married couple.

Question: Who loses weight easier, you, or your spouse?

Wife: “Are you kidding? Is that question meant to be a joke? Because it’s hilarious. This idiot’s idea of exercise is laying on the couch yelling at the TV, but he loses ten pounds if he happens to skip lunch one day. Meanwhile, I’m eating nothing by kale and celery, and getting up at 4:45 every morning to sweat my ass off at spin class for an hour before work. Guess what? None of my ass is actually sweating off, and I’ll gain three pounds one week because I walked by a Starbucks and accidentally smelled one of the muffins. Shut your stupid face.”

Husband: “No comment.”

Weight loss study completed. Cost: Zero dollars and possibly a threat on your life.

I’m telling you, as long as I can steer clear of asking woman about anything to do with weight loss, being a scientist seems like a sweet gig.

I wonder who I need to talk to about signing up? I’d like to dig into that taco study right away.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

There's a Problem Nextdoor

Besides being an amazing vehicle for changing hearts and minds on the subjects of gun control, partisan politics, and organized religion, social media has another hidden benefit: finding out what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Gone are the cumbersome days of having to actually put on clothes and speak face-to-face with your neighbors to get news. Social media again makes it easier to stay in your pajamas until dinnertime and still know what’s going on right outside your front door.

I am a member of a number of neighborhood groups on Facebook, not because I live in a number of different neighborhoods, but because we all can’t seem to agree on which group to use. They are meant to be a “message board” for the happenings in our community, both good and bad. Fortunately, no one ever uses the semi-anonymous nature of these groups to vent about their pet peeves or tear down anyone with an opinion that differs even slightly from their own. That’s what makes these groups so valuable to our community!

In addition to the handy Facebook community groups, I also have a Nextdoor account. It’s a website and app strictly dedicated to neighborhood issues, and it’s even more civil and non-judgmental than the Facebook groups, if that’s even possible! People are always so polite and kind on the internet - it just warms my heart.

Just as a for-instance: the other day, a man posted some pictures on Nextdoor of a gentleman on a bicycle going through his trash cans early in the morning. He warned us, his neighbors, to be on the lookout for this man. That was great.

What was even better was the positive responses he received from his neighbors about his post. One helpful neighbor gave him a lot of municipal codes indicating that garbage is public property, as long as it’s on the street. Another budding legal scholar provided civil codes that stated garbage was private property even when it was on the street. Good, and, I’m sure, legally accurate points were made on both sides of the helpful trash ownership issue.

Another happy and well-adjusted neighbor inquired as to why the homeowner didn’t simply go out and speak to the early morning trash diver, instead of cowardly taking photos of him from the safety of his warm and cozy second-story window. He also politely asked why the man hated poor people. A mutually-respectful dialog ensued.

A fun and light-hearted back and forth occurred between three or four of the neighbors about compassion for the homeless versus tangling with drug-crazed lunatics rooting around in filth and garbage. Personal defense classes were touted, and civilian, police, and military tactical confrontation situations were explored with a lively discussion. It was all very helpful.

Some of the man’s neighbors even made polite suggestions about alternative communities he could move to. He, in turn, suggested other towns and neighborhoods that might be more suitable for them. Many neighbors chimed in regarding their housing histories. It was a truly delightful and charming response all around.

Unfortunately, however, our neighborhood sites are not always filled with these kinds of heartwarming and useful conversations about refuse. Many times, there is simply no room for the helpful things we look forward to, because the sites are clogged with posts about “lost” pets.

In fact, on any given day, roughly six thousand percent of all information being shared on these sites is about a wayward dog or cat.

FOUND DOG: Found this cute Yorkie on Peach Street. He was so scared and alone. I have him safely on my couch and have fed him half a Prozac and a ribeye steak. Does anyone know who his people are?

LOST CAT: Please help. Mr. Socks, our seventeen-year-old Siamese, has gone missing. Here’s a picture of him when he was a kitten. We haven’t seen him in over twenty minutes, and we’re worried sick. He was last seen on top of our play structure in the backyard, swatting at butterflies. He’s such a scamp. We live at the corner of Maple Street and Truman Drive.

Etcetera.

I feel like I can save us all a lot of time and energy by clearing a few things up about dogs and cats, so we can get back to the really important garbage-related posts.

Dogs are rarely, if ever, lost. They just love to party. If your dog is more than a block away from your house, it’s simply because it smelled something amazing in another town, and it’s going to investigate.

Dogs can smell a pigeon fart from twelve miles away, and they know exactly what your house smells like, so they can find their way home any time. And since they are a dog, they will come home, because you feed them and scratch them. Food and belly rubs will trump anything else they have going on by dinnertime, so just sit back and wait for them to amble on home.

And if you happen to see a dog wandering around without its owner, please have some compassion for the poor animal, and leave it alone. Think about how you’d feel if you were out at a party and someone kidnapped you made you eat another brand of dog food. See?

Cats are another matter entirely. Cats are NEVER lost. If your cat is no longer at your house, it simply got tired of your insolence and left to teach you a lesson. The lesson is this: You don’t own me. I allow you to provide me with food and a place to nap, and in exchange, you get to be seen with me. The minute you start getting any false ideas about who is in charge here is when we have a problem, insignificant human. Many times, I need to leave, because frankly, it’s very trying being around the likes of you all day. I need my space. And also, sometimes I need to kill a lizard.

I’m very surprised you cat owners don’t already understand this stuff. Please stop posting about lost cats, and if you ever find a cat wandering around your house, just remember, it has nothing but pure contempt for you. Leave it to its own devices, for both your sakes.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to a riveting thread on Nextdoor about suspicious solicitors and whether or not Girl Scouts need permits.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Get out of this Room-ba!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about me: I hate vacuuming.

I know, I know. You were probably thinking to yourself, “That Smidge, he just loves writing books, eating nachos, and vacuuming.”

But alas, only two of those things are accurate. I hate the task of vacuuming, and I also hate the word. I can never spell it right. I always think it should have two C’s and one U. I’m going to write my congressman.

Anyway, since I dislike vacuuming so much, you can imagine how excited I was when I found a reasonably-priced Roomba at Fry’s Electronics. (If you are unfamiliar with Fry’s, it’s a strange, semi-nationwide chain of stores that give you the impression that a Walmart, a Radio Shack, and a 7-Eleven all got together and had a love child. You can buy a 60-inch flat screen TV, a no-kink garden hose, a three-pack of Barbie dolls, a ten-micro-farad capacitor for your circuit board, and a 64-ounce soda all at the same cash register.)

Roombas are made by a company called iRobot, and just like the iPhone, the new ones cost about the same amount as a semester at Yale. But apparently, just like the iPhone, last year’s models are looked down upon by the hipster robotic vacuum in-crowd, so I was able to score one for what a semester at a midwestern junior college might cost. It was on the aisle between the Samsung refrigerators and the pool noodles.

I brought it home, absolutely giddy with how much time and frustration it was about to save me.

And then I watched it work.

I don’t think it’s saving me any time at all, and it’s certainly not reducing my frustration levels. I was under the impression when I purchased it that you just push the button and walk away, letting it clean your house for you, but that’s not how it works. It must be constantly monitored and given verbal directions, because it seems to be a total vacuuming moron.


That’s the table leg. Just go around it. Yes, that’s the same one. You ran into it twice within five seconds. Who programmed you?

Go left! Left!

No!

Left!

OK, now you’re stuck under the easy chair. Why would you go under there? You have sensors on your front. Use them!

Oh, my God, get out from under the chair. Get out! OK, fine, let me lift it up. OK, there you go. Now go left. Left!

Why would you make a 180 after you just got stuck under that chair? Why are you going back?

Here, let me block you with my foot. Yes, I don’t want you to go back under there. That’s it, turn around.

No! Don’t come back to my foot!

Left!

OK, good, now you’re heading the right direction. Get that carpet. Wait. Where are you going? Why are you leaving this room? You made one six-inch-wide pass at the living room carpet and you’re leaving? There’s a lot more carpet!!

Why would you go back to that table leg?

OK, good. Get the hardwood floors. This is why you’re here. Get the dog hair. Looking good. I’m going to leave you now and go do something else.

I need to… what’s that clicking sound? That’s a baseboard, why are you… that’s a wall. Why are you just running into it? Are you stuck on the baseboard? Seriously? How is that possible? Did your designer not plan for baseboards?? Get off! Just go left!!! OK, let me kick you loose, and then I really have to go do other things. I can’t be here with you the whole… get out of the drapes!

Just go left!

Dining room, OK. Great, looking good. No, that’s a chair. Don’t go under… why? Why would you go under the chair? Just spin around and go back out the way you came. What is hard about that?? Why would you go back there? OK, now! Go left!

Let me just lift the chair up for you. OK, get out. Go get the carpet. Don’t… sweet mother Mary and Joseph, why would you go back under the same damn chair!?!?

OK, seriously, I need to go. Just get the carpet over there to the left.

That’s the coffee table. I don’t think you fit under… yes, you’re stuck. Oh, you have a nice female voice with a soothing accent in there to tell me you’re stuck. I can see that, but thanks for the verbal heads-up. Let me just get you out of there. OK, now go get the… No! Go left! WHY WOULD YOU GO BACK TO THE SAME PLACE YOU JUST GOT STUCK!?!?  

OK, go do… another chiming sound? What does that one mean? Now where are you going? Back to the dock? Oh, battery is low… well, OK. Thanks for cleaning under all those chairs. Maybe next time we could get more of the actual floor? Have a great rest.


For those of you who watch too many sci-fi movies and worry that the machines are going to take over the world, I wouldn’t sweat it. I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Streaming Moo-vies

Our security was breached earlier this week, and we immediately went on high alert. Things were tense on Monday when I received the warning email, alerting me to suspicious activity on my account.

From: Netflix
Subject: New sign-in to your account

New sign-in to Netflix

Hi Marc,
We noticed a new sign-in with your Netflix account.

Device: Computer
Location: United States
Time: August 6th, 5:17 PM PDT

If you signed-in recently, relax and enjoy watching! But if you don’t recognize this sign-in, we recommend that you change your password immediately to secure your account.

We're here to help if you need it. Visit the Help Center for more info or contact us.

–Your friends at Netflix


Wow, Netflix, thanks for the heads up! A device inside the borders of America logged onto my account. Hmm… I’m currently in America, but there are at least a few other people here as well, so I really don’t know what to think.

I mean, if you had said Location: Myanmar (Formerly Burma, name changed in 1989), I would have known immediately that the activity was unauthorized, and I would have learned a fun fact about a Southeast Asian country. But sadly, that wasn’t the case.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the United States is divided up into fifty or so states, united together for a common goal: twenty-four hour access to reasonably-priced fast food. Each of these states has a border, so we can keep them all separate. Rarely do those borders move, so as long as you’re sitting still, it’s fairly simply to figure out which state you’re in.

But you didn’t tell me Location: Louisiana (Formerly Burma, name changed in 1812). If you had, I would have known right away that something was amiss, since I’m in California.

And again, I’m not sure how up on geography you are, but most states here in the U.S. are divided into counties, and further delineated by cities, towns, villages, hamlets, parishes, townships, Nike corporate campuses, etc.

But you didn’t tell me Location: Los Angeles (Formerly Mexico, name changed in 1848). If you had, I would have immediately accused my sister of stealing my account, since I’m in Rocklin and she has a history of shady behavior.

But I already knew it wasn’t her. The new sign-in to the account was my son, getting his new school Chromebook loaded up with all the important academic apps like Netflix and Candy Crush, and he was sitting three feet away from me.

Come on, Netflix, you can do better than this. Every single TV, computer, tablet, and phone in our home connects to Netflix from the same Wi-Fi router. You literally could have told me Location: Your living room (Formerly The Allen’s living room, name changed in 2008). How hard could that actually be?

I don’t know anything about computers, but I do know the story of a cow. Many years ago, before the internet (so you guys at Netflix weren’t around yet, but pay attention to this story anyway), mad cow disease broke out in North America. Scientific investigators were able to track the original source of the disease back to a single cow in a specific stall on a Canadian farm. If tracking a disease back to a stall number in a barn was possible without the internet, please tell me how you can only pinpoint a new log-in to my account down to a 3.8 million square mile area?

Maybe you guys should assign each Netflix account a cow…

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Parcel Postpartum

On January 1, 1913, the U.S. Post Office began its parcel post service, increasing the size of packages they were willing to deliver from letter size only, to a whopping eleven pound weight limit.

What does this mean to you, you might ask? Specifically, why does this historical event allow you to feel better about your parenting decisions?

Great question!

Chances are you are not over 115 years old. If you are, please check your pulse, because you probably died a few years ago, and you need to let someone know. And if you’re not over 115, it probably never occurred to you to mail your baby somewhere.

See, right there, you can just take a quick second to pat yourself on the back for being an awesome parent. And even if you don’t have kids, you can still pat yourself on the back for being an outstanding human, because I doubt it would have occurred to you, given a scenario where you had offspring, to slap some stamps on them and drop them at the post office.

Great job everybody. You’re absolutely killing it!

The same cannot be said for Jesse and Mathilda Beagle of Ohio. What Mathilda lacked in the cool name department, she more than failed to make up for in the motherhood department. Jesse Beagle is actually a pretty cool name, and Jesse and the Beagles would make a decent name for a rock band, but let’s face facts: as a father, Jesse came up short.

Back in 1913, just a few weeks after the parcel post service launched, Jesse and Mathilda, who may or may not have had warts and a hump, respectively, mailed their eight-month-old son, James, to his grandmother. I am not making that up.

Many of you, in this day and age, will simply not be able to believe this story. Especially those of you who have never let your children farther away from you than the end of the leash. But trust me, every word of this story is historical fact.

Baby James was just shy of the eleven-pound weight limit for packages, and delivering him to his grandma, who lived just a few miles away in the hip, happening party town of Batavia, Ohio (which, amazingly, still exists on Google Maps) only cost his parents fifteen cents in postage.

Can you believe that? Fifteen cents! Nowadays the Post Office would charge at least $7.50 to mail a ten-pound baby.

So many questions are raised by Jesse and Mathilda’s decision to mail little James to his grammy. If she was only a few miles away, why not just ride him over there yourself on one of your trusty mules? Why pay the exorbitant fee of fifteen cents to mail him when it only cost a rabbit and two chickens for the doctor to deliver him in the first place? Shouldn’t he have weighed more than ten pounds at eight months old? Was handing your baby off to a stranger and crossing your fingers that he got to your mom’s house safely worth it just for a date night with a woman named Mathilda who may or may not have had a hump? And as far as baby James’ trip is concerned, was there an in-flight bottle service? And probably the most pressing of all the questions, after news of the incident surfaced, why weren’t both Jesse and Mathilda immediately sterilized?

And believe it or not, the Beagles were not the only wildly irresponsible parents willing to mail their children across the state or even the country. As the post office increased the parcel post weight limit to a more child-friendly fifty pounds, more and more parents started slapping postage on their kids.

The post office immediately recognized the potential issues that could occur if people continued to mail their children. The number of mail carriers being bitten by petulant toddlers was beginning to outpace the more common threats of stray dogs and rabid postal mules. And many of the postal workers were complaining that, while mule poop was expected, dealing with poopy diapers was not in their original civil servant contract.

Thankfully, our agile and ever so efficient government jumped on the problem right away. The practice of mailing children was only allowed for seven more years, with Washington putting its foot down in 1920, saying enough is enough. We simply can’t have any more rabid postal mules being bitten by petulant toddlers! No more mailing kids!

Thanks, Washington, for continuing to fall short of our already low expectations. And thanks, Jesse and Mathilda Beagle, for paving the way for all of us to feel a little bit better about our parenting decisions.

Chin up, America! Unless you’ve ever shipped your eight-month-old over to grandma’s house in an Uber, you’re doing a great job.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In-Law Breakers

We are currently visiting the boys’ grandma in beautiful Morro Bay, California. (Town motto: Come for the clam chowder, stay for the prohibitively excessive real estate prices!)

Our three boys have grown up visiting their grandparents here, playing at the beach and spending time with their cousins and their Uncle Jay. It has been almost four years since their Grandpa Dick passed away, and we recently traveled with grandma and Uncle Jay up to Alaska, where we spread the remainder of his ashes in the ocean where he loved to fish. (Don’t tell anyone we did that, though, because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, and we didn’t have any permits.)

With both families back in Morro Bay visiting and reminiscing about the good times with Grandpa Dick, one of my favorite stories surfaced.

Six years ago, we were visiting here and had just finished up lunch at our favorite wharf-side restaurant. We were heading back to the car and my wife had Son Number One’s hand, who was seven years old at the time.

She saw an opening in the traffic, so she hurried him across the street in the middle of the block. He was resistant to go with her, tugging backward, and in the middle of the street, voiced his concern.

Son Number One: Mom, we’re dick walking!

[record scratch. Mom comes to a complete stop in the middle of the street]

Mom: Excuse me?? What did you say?

Number One: We’re dick walking. Why are we dick walking? We’re not supposed to.

Mom: ……

Number One: Shouldn’t we get out of the street?

Mom: ……

Number One: What?

Mom: …… Oh!!!! Do you mean jay walking?

Number One: Oh, yeah, sorry. Jay walking. That’s what I meant. We shouldn’t do that.

[sound of mom laughing so hard she very nearly pees her pants in the middle of the street]


I’m not sure what it says about his opinion of his mom’s family’s moral character, but our oldest son had been told the term for a pedestrian traffic violation and assumed it was named after his uncle. Then somewhere along the way, his unruly little seven-year-old brain mixed up father and son, and attributed the offense to his grandpa instead.

The result was pretty darn humorous, and something Son Number One will never live down. He probably wishes he’d mixed it up with his other grandpa instead, then he wouldn’t still be hearing about it. Dave walking isn’t nearly as funny. 

We miss you, Grandpa Dick! Glad you got to make it back to Alaska one last time, even if we had to bend or ignore a few rules to do it.

Why our sons would associate us with law-breaking activities continues to be a mystery.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

High Pressure Shopping

Yesterday was Prime Day on Amazon. At this point, I would assume that every person in the entire civilized world is an Amazon Prime member, so you no doubt knew that.

The first item that caught my attention was a 9” tall, 5” diameter white metal cylinder with the title “Furbo Dog Camera.”

At first I thought it was like a dog toy, where you could teach your dog to carry it around and take pictures of interesting stuff, like other dogs’ butts and holes in the lawn. But on further investigation, it turns out it’s supposed to just sit on the shelf or counter and act as a canine baby monitor.

All the features and other reasons why I should buy it were very confusing, but there was a handy video to explain everything.

The video featured Cha Cha, a Husky-looking dog, approximately 40-60 pounds, who lives in an apartment with a single woman who leaves him at home to head off to work for the day.

When he’s barking at the door in the middle of the day, she receives a “Cha Cha is barking” alert on her Furbo smartphone app, and she is able to talk to him to calm him down via the two-way microphone and speaker communication system. Her office mates look at her with the appropriate amount of distain.

Later in the day, after an important meeting where she is no doubt ridiculed behind her back by her coworkers for talking to her dog on her phone, she is able to check in on Cha Cha, even though the sun has gone down and the apartment is dark, because Furbo’s camera has night vision.

But my favorite part of the video was when she gives Cha Cha a treat in the middle of the day, via the Furbo’s treat-tossing hole. You heard me. The Furbo has a hole in the middle of it from which it can toss a treat to the dog. Along with a camera and a microphone, this little 9” x 5” cylinder has a bamboo wood cover and is filled with delicious dog treats.

This is how I know this is a fake product. And Cha Cha is obviously a fake dog, because after the first treat launched out, every dog, no matter what size or how well trained, would immediately remove the pint-sized Furbo from the shelf, gnaw the bamboo cover off, and snarf down every single treat contained inside.

Furbo claims to have 1900 reviews with a 4-star average rating, which is obviously a complete fabrication, or else every positive review is about how white it kept their dog’s teeth from chewing all that bamboo.

More Prime Day Deals were coming fast and furious, in what appeared to be a random order, but as we know, Amazon is owned by an astronaut, and astronauts never do things randomly. You don’t just fly your rocket to wherever. There is always some rhyme or reason to the products Amazon presents you with. For instance, I have a dog, so the Furbo ad made sense, even if the product itself is patently ridiculous. I was, however, a little confused by two other deals I saw back to back.

The first was Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray. If you haven’t heard of this product, it’s something you spray on top of the toilet water before you poop. I am not making that up. It apparently helps trap odors under the water, sort of like a flower-scented layer of Saran wrap. (Note: Saran wrap of any scent does NOT work for this application.)

Again, if you are unfamiliar, I implore you to look up the Poo-Pourri ad campaign with the nice British lady who speaks very frankly about her poop. The ads are solid. (Pun intended)

The original 2-oz bottle was available for only $6.51, dropped from the original price of $9.95, but I had to move on the deal and plop it into my cart in the next 3 hours and 10 minutes before the offer was flushed out of the system. I passed. (Again, all puns intended, however, completely unnecessary and juvenile)

Floating there, right next to the Poo-Pourri, was the next Prime Day Deal. For a limited time, I could score a Generac SpeedWash Model 6882 2900-PSI Gas-Powered Pressure Washer for only $349.00. I don’t know what the original price was, but that sounds like a smokin’ deal to me. I mean, that’s only $0.12 per PSI. Where else are you going to find PSI’s that cheap? Nowhere, man!

Amazon has obviously figured out that I like power tools, probably using the ingenious algorithm of, “He’s a dude. Sell him power tools.” But what I can’t figure out is what a 2900-PSI pressure washer has in common with an anti-stink toilet spray. They have to be connected to each other in one of Amazon’s internal algorithms, because I have never shopped for anything even remotely connected to poo spray on the internet.

I have purchased Saran wrap before, but that can’t be it. The only possible explanation is there must be a strange sector of power tool-loving men out there who have inexplicably rejected toilet paper in favor of pressure washers. A mobile, gas-powered, 2900-PSI bidet, if you will. I will not. These men are probably from Alaska, or Montana, or Detroit, and I have no idea how I became associated with them.

Either that, or the Poo-Pourri and the pressure washer are related to my dog somehow, but she very rarely uses the toilet, and I think she’d bite me if I hit her with 2900 PSI. It’s all very confusing.

I’ll tell you what, though. Speaking of toilets and pressure washers, what the hell have we been doing all these years with that silly little toilet brush? When it comes time to clean the bathroom, the Generac SpeedWash 6882 would put the hurt on that job in a hurry! Why didn’t I think of that before?

Excuse me, I need to get back to Amazon and see if that deal is still available.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Bud Light Blob


“There are no salmon. This is the worst fishing we have had in twenty-eight years.”

When you travel thousands of miles via plane, rental car, bus, train, smaller plane, Uber, foot, cab, ferry, and finally, tiny float plane, to get to a remote five-star floating Alaskan fishing lodge, there are a lot of things you want to hear when you step out of the float plane onto the dock. That is not one of them.

We were fortunate enough to have been guests at this same great place, the Sea Otter Sound Lodge, four years ago, and apparently, we became spoiled then, fishing-wise. Four years ago, we almost couldn’t keep the salmon out of the boat. And since they are the premier Alaskan fish, we spent almost all our time targeting the salmon, never fishing very seriously for any other species.

That being said, let’s not forget my masterful helmsmanship on the last trip, the day I guided my wife to her monster seventeen-pound halibut. Halibut boat captaining requires that you are able to keep your boat positioned over the same spot on the ocean floor, some two to four hundred feet below.

I was so skillful at this maneuver, my wife could be heard for miles singing my praises with encouraging phrases like, “What the hell are you doing?” and, “Why are we spinning like a drunken ballerina?” She could be heard for miles across the ocean not because sound carries well across water, but because we traveled for miles across the ocean as I fearlessly attempted to keep us in one place.

I tried to explain to her about tidal friction, wave current, ballast displacement, navigational knots, etc. – all the nautical factors that I had to take into account as captain – but I don’t think she understood it all. At one point, she even grabbed the VHS radio mic off my bulkhead helm near the port aft, and called the lodge, saying something I didn’t quite catch about “another boat driver.” I assume she was letting them know that the other guests couldn’t compare to me. I heard Tim, the owner of the lodge, say something about sympathizing with her concerns, but the conversation was interrupted when the fishing line started zinging off her reel.

I had maneuvered the boat directly over the top of the waiting beast, and my wife was in for the fight of her life. Two and a half minutes later, we hauled our catch over the side of the boat (known as the stern whale), after I had harpooned and gaffed it extensively, because that’s what you do with the big game.

Fortunately, I had not forgotten any of those halibut boat captaining skills, because we needed them this past week.

As Tim explained to us upon our arrival, the entire state of Alaska is currently being visited by the least amount of salmon they have seen since the Paleozoic era. Apparently, in 2014, there was a situation in the Pacific Ocean that somehow caused this issue.

This all had something to do with El Nino, which is Alaskan Inuit for “no salmon.” El Nino is an ocean current, or a storm, or a small baby whale. Details are sketchy. What they do know for sure is that a series of “perfect storm” events lined up to create what scientists have very scientifically named, “The Blob.”   

The Blob is a vast pocket of warm water, floating in the cold water. It formed in 2014 as a small blob, and then El Nino combined forces with other unnamed forces and transformed the baby blob into a massive blob, about one thousand square miles in size on the surface, and a significant number of fathoms deep. (Unfortunately, no one knows how much a fathom is, so we’ll never really know how deep it goes.)

The Blob prevented the salmon that would normally be in the waters of Alaska now from getting there on time. Think of The Blob as a giant oceanic TSA security station, or the DMV of the deep.

As he explained this to the group, I shrunk silently to the back of the room, hoping not to draw attention to myself. I crossed my fingers and prayed Tim and his wife Murtie would not make the connection, but it was obvious to me. We were there, fishing in the Alaskan Pacific in 2014.

Between the eight of us, we consumed an inordinate amount of beer over the five-day fishing trip. Since we were on the boats all day, the vast majority of that beer was recycled directly into the ocean.

Could we have been responsible for the blob? Well, I think it’s a real possibility. I’m no oceanographer, but I can tell you I’m probably responsible for at least two to three hundred square miles of ocean being converted to 98.6 degrees..

Further fueling my suspicions of culpability is the fact that the blob is gone now. It slowly dissipated over the last four years. And where were we the last four years? Not peeing in the Alaskan ocean, that’s where. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Sorry about that, Alaska. We toned it down on the beer this time, so fingers crossed for four years from now. I’m looking forward to getting home and grilling up our halibut from this trip. I think I have enough for a pretty decent appetizer.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Fourth in the Forty-Ninth

We are currently on vacation up north, spending the Fourth of July in the great state of Alaska, which we are told is actually part of the United States. Go America! We are having a great time and learning all sorts of interesting things in the 49th state. We started in Fairbanks, where we learned that despite what Santa might have you believe, reindeer are just a slower, dumber version of caribou.

We also learned that Alaska’s state bird is not the eagle or the goose, as you might expect. It’s the mosquito, which sucks.

We then learned all about the Alaska highway system as we drove down to Denali National Park. It turns out, unfortunately, the state has not had an actively working road maintenance crew since 1911. Some of the potholes are pretty bad, but thankfully the larger ones are filled with unlucky cars and pickup trucks, so you just rattle right over the top of them.

Once we made it to Denali we learned about all the majestic animals that live in the park, and what a suckfest it is to be a caribou. The winters are bad enough, with forty-below temperatures and having to dig through snow drifts to chew lichen off rocks, all the while being pursued by wolves, but the summer and spring for the caribou are worse. That’s because in the summer, there is something called a nostril fly, and it does exactly what it sounds like. It flies up the caribou’s nose.

But wait, it gets worse.

They fly up the caribou’s nose to lay their eggs. The fly larvae winter in the caribou’s throat, and then the caribou coughs them out in the spring. There is simply no way around it - it just sucks to be a caribou.

There was nothing we could do for the poor beasts, so we jumped on a train and headed for Anchorage.

We learned that Anchorage has about 300,000 people, which is almost half of the population of the entire state. And all 300,000 residents have fireworks that they shoot off, beginning around 11:59 P.M. on July 3rd and going well into the morning of the 4th. I’m not sure why, though. You can’t see them.

That’s because, from a sunlight perspective, there seems to be very little discernable difference between midnight and noon here. Alaska is the weirdest place on earth in the summer. On our first night in Fairbanks, we accidentally let the kids stay up until midnight, because we all thought it was still five or six in the evening. Around 3 A.M., we realized that the sun had no intention of actually going down. It just sort of made a lazy circling pass near the horizon, then headed back up.

Consequently, we learned that Alaska has some of the crankiest, most sleep-deprived young tourists in the world, and also the best summertime vegetable growing conditions in all of America. No one understands this better than a gardening madman from Palmer, Alaska by the name of Scott Robb. (I mean he understands vegetables. I don’t know if he knows how cranky our kids are.)

We learned that Scott is the Alaska State Fair Giant Vegetable Champion in not one, not two, but nine different types of vegetables and melons, seven of which are world records.

Scott has grown (and somehow transported to the fair, presumably with help) a 138-pound cabbage, a 65-pound cantaloupe, a 63-pound celery stalk, a 106-pound kale plant, a 97-pound kohlrabi, an 83-pound rutabaga, and a 39-pound turnip, all of which are world records.

The amazing enormity of these vegetables leads to so many questions, not the least of which is, what the hell is a kohlrabi?

Scott also holds the state fair records for cauliflower (36 pounds) and watermelon (169 pounds), but those are not world records. That means at some point, somewhere in the world, some super gardener’s poor kids were forced to eat over 37 pounds of cauliflower before they could leave the table. The humanity!

We were not able to meet Scott Robb or his family, which is a shame, because I really wanted to be invited to their house for dinner, just to see if, as I suspect, they serve the salad in the bed of a Ford F-150. They probably have dinner rolls the size of couch cushions.

Oh, well. We’ll just continue to eat regular-sized food and dream.

So, anyway, today, as you thank God that you’re an American, you can also take pride in the fact that the pioneering, adventurous, giant vegetable-growing spirit is alive and well in this great country of ours.

You can also be thankful that you got more sleep than I did last night.

And that you’re not a caribou.

Happy Independence Day!

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pour your Money Down this Hole

The city of Rocklin, California is getting into the adventure theme park business.

Well, maybe they are. We’re not actually sure yet. It all centers on a big hole in the ground.

My Sycamore Detective Agency series takes place in Rocklin, and quite a bit of the fictional action in the third book takes place in the real-life quarry pit formerly known as the Big Gun.

For full disclosure, in order to maintain my impeccable record of journalistic integrity, I must admit that I have quite a bit of personal heartburn with the city of Rocklin regarding this particular quarry pit. It sits smack in the middle of the older part of town, and it used to have a really (arguably) cool old barn on the property. It also had two huge wooden masts – literally masts from old ships – standing high above the pit on either end. They were the derrick crane masts that were used to bring the enormous blocks of granite up out of the pit, and they were strung together with massive steel cables to keep them upright.

The city politely listened to all the Rocklin Historical Society folks about the need to preserve the very historical building and masts, and then tore it all down the next day to build an amusement park.

I really don’t like that some of the cool real-life old historical stuff in my book is no longer there, but at least they left the big hole in the ground. That’s something, I guess.

Truth be told in this situation, I’m really more concerned about the fact that a government entity (that takes my money from me) thinks it’s a good idea to get into the business of building and operating an entertainment venue. Here’s why:

Last year, the city unveiled their grand plan of putting zip lines over the big hole and putting spikes and ropes and such in the walls of the quarry so adventurous adventurers could climb up and down. It was going to be amazing.

Tickets went on pre-sale before Christmas in anticipation of the adventurous grand summer opening adventure. There were fun pictures that someone from the city drew up of what all the adventure would probably look like really soon. There were even going to be cargo nets and maybe even slides!

For around a hundred dollars per happy adventurer, we could buy season passes.

Based on the five-hundred-dollar price tag and the fact that, at that point, the site was nothing more than a muddy, deserted, demolished old quarry hole, our family politely declined the amazing pre-purchase opportunity.

I forgot about the whole thing as the winter went on, and apparently so did all the people in charge of building it. Winter moved into spring, and around May, I started to get the impression – mainly because absolutely nothing had been constructed yet – that the park might not be ready by the time school got out.

Lo and behold, just the other day I heard a radio report on the new Rocklin Adventure Park. It seems the city had to break the news to all the nice folks who bought season passes that their dreams of summer fun zip-lining over a giant hole would not be realized. Seems the facility isn’t quite ready – meaning it still looks almost exactly like it did in May.

They have a new (wildly optimistic) estimated opening day of August 31st, conveniently, for the parents of the greater Rocklin area, after school is back in session. But don’t worry, folks, your season passes will still be valid for the whole season, whatever that may end up being defined as.

Oh, and one other tiny little tidbit the news story mentioned – the city needs another $1.3 million, give or take, to get the project completed.

Wow, you might say, $1.3 million seems like more than enough money to string some zip lines over a quarry pit, let alone as an add-on to get the project competed. What did they say they needed the extra $1.3 million for, specifically?

Oh, nothing major. Just restrooms and a food court.

I am not making that up.

The people that take my money to run my city forgot to include toilets at their amusement park.

Let that sink in for a minute while they have a meeting and ask themselves for another $1,300,000. Think they’ll say yes to themselves?

Actually, Rocklin, better make it $1.5 million. That way you can buy some toilet paper, too.

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tenth Anniversary

Today, we must take time to recognize an anniversary that represents a truly momentous literary achievement.

The Just a Smidge column turns ten years old on Friday! I know, I was as stunned as you are.

The first column was posted on June 22, 2008, and you, our faithful readers, have been mercilessly subjected to a new one each week since then.

“That’s nice,” you say, “but what’s so momentous about ten years? I mean, we’ve got underwear older than that.”

Great question, my fair and thrifty readers, and you are correct. It isn’t the time period that’s momentous - it’s the volume and the content.

I have produced over 500 individual columns, averaging close to 1000 words each, and yet, in all those 500,000 words, I have managed to not provide even one single useful piece of information.

Do you know how hard that is to do? Do you? No? Me neither. It just sorta happens.

Anyway, in honor of this day, I thought we’d take a trip back in time to one of those first columns from ten years ago.

Enjoy, but don’t expect to learn anything.
  

Hot Chicks and Cool Dudes
Originally posted July 7, 2008

One of the main differences between men and women can be seen in the simple truth about ambient temperature. Men are comfortable in a thirty-degree temperature range, and the range is the same for all men. From 56 degrees Fahrenheit to 86, men will do just fine. Some may be a little sweatier or chillier than others, but no one is complaining. This range is hardwired in the male DNA and stays the same from birth until death.

Women, on the other hand, are comfortable in only a three-degree range, and not only does that range vary widely from women to women, but throughout the course of an individual women’s day, week, month, year, and lifespan, it will jump all over the board.

These are indisputable facts. You just can’t argue with science. This disparity in the comfort zones of the sexes invariably leads to problems when men and women attempt to share an office, car, home, bed, table at a restaurant, tent, etc. The issue is most often solved by adjusting the temperature to fit the female’s needs. As long as the three-degree range is still falling in the male comfort zone, everyone gets along. If there are two or more women sharing the same space, the inevitable problem is usually solved with layers. It is not uncommon to visit an office where the secretary in the blouse with the personal electric desk fan is working right alongside the HR manager in the parka with the personal electric space heater.

Financial issues can arise from this problem when men and women get married and buy a house that contains a thermostat. Men will do some rudimentary math, and pick one temperature to keep the house livable, foolishly assuming that this temperature will be acceptable for the entire season. Little do they know that the temperature they picked will not even be acceptable for an entire seven minutes. Women who normally complain that the clock radio is too complicated can decipher a thirty-eight-button, eleven-switch thermostat in a matter of minutes and operate any home’s A/C system like they were seated at a NASA control center. In many cases, the temperature swings during the day are so violent that you can actually see the money being sucked out of the double-pane windows.

I think the temperature issue is a physical manifestation of a psychological difference in the sexes. Women are genetically programmed to worry about more things than men are. I have no idea why, but again, you can’t argue with science. When women have no life-threatening situations to deal with, they will inevitably begin to search out things to be concerned about, often making things up to fret over. Hair, weight, money, age, wrinkles, relationships with friends, relationships with co-workers, me-time, us-time, down time, play dates, date night, pre-partum, partum, post-partum, carpet, color palates, window treatments, balanced diets, safety recalls, consumer reports, outdoor tableware, biological clocks, school districts, undercooked poultry, guest lists, footwear, closet organization, furniture, pediatricians, and the list goes on and on. And on.

With men, pretty much twenty-nine days out of the month if the cars are running OK and the house isn’t on fire, it’s all good.

So, I hypothesize that women, being less comfortable inside about all the little things in life, try to micro-manage the external temperature settings to feel more comfortable outside. A way to gain some measure of control over their surroundings when life seems otherwise wildly out of control.

Either that, or it’s a hormone thing and they actually are less comfortable. What do I know?

See you soon,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Dog (Birth)days of Summer

It’s our dog Remi’s first birthday today. We celebrated yesterday with our good friends down the street who own her sister from the same litter. Our kids made them two little disgusting dog cakes out of completely incompatible ingredients like pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt. The two matching yellow Labs thought the cakes were delicious. Dogs are weird.

Since my next book (currently under construction) will center around Remi’s life, she and her sister are soon to be famous. Out of curiosity, I visited www.onthisday.com to see what other famous celebrities they share a birthday with.

I’m not going to lie. They might end up being the most famous celebrities on the list.

Also born on June 13th:

1539 Jost Amman, Swiss cartoonist, graphic artist and illustrator, born in Zürich, Switzerland (d. 1591) – So let me get this straight. There were cartoons in the 1500s? Not just poor hygiene and the plague? Who knew?

1911 Albert Cleage, famous African – Famous African what?

1911 Prince Aly Khan [Ali Salman Aga Khan], Pakistani socialite, jockey, political ambassador and husband to Rita Hayworth, born in Turin, Italy (d. 1960) – “Socialite and political ambassador” = good at drinking martinis and schmoozing. And how much competition for best socialite could there possibly be in Pakistan? Famous for marrying a movie star = not very famous.

1918 Helmut Lent, German night fighter pilot (d. 1944) – Look at the death date. Sorry, Helmut, but I can’t count you as a famous German pilot when you obviously got shot down by a non-famous allied pilot.

1925 Hans Fellner, bookseller – Famous for selling books? Seriously? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love booksellers, but famous for it? I think not.

1926 Geoffrey Finsberg, politician – You may as well have said “garbage collector.” That would make Geoffrey more worthy of fame in my eyes.

1934 Lady Annabel Goldsmith, English socialite – Again, “famous” for being a martini sucker.

1935 Christo [Javacheff], Bulgaria, artist, wrapper (Running Fence) – A wrapper you say? Of what, exactly?

1947 Peter Holm, boyfriend of Joan Collins – Boyfriend? Not even husband. C’mon!

1954 Jorge Santana, Mexican rock guitarist (Malo), born in Autlán de Navarro – “Malo” means “bad” in Spanish. So, a bad guitarist made this list.

1955 Alan Hansen, Scottish football pundit – Every drunk Scotsman at the pub is a football pundit. How does that make Alan famous?

1962 Mark Frankel, actor (Leon the Pig Farmer) – If your most notable acting performance was in Leon the Pig Farmer, you are as far from famous as a martini-sucking Pakistani socialite.

1968 Deniece Peterson, rocker (5 Star-Silk & Steel) – Rocker? Of babies? Of chairs? Of boats? In what capacity did he or she rock, pray tell?


Since we have obviously set a low bar for fame, I think it is safe to say Remi and her sister are shoe-ins for this list. There was one person on the list, however, that intrigued me. I would again have to argue the claim of “famous,” since I have never heard of them, but their occupation certainly deserves respect.

1979 Nila Håkedal, Norwegian beach volleyball player – Initially, I wondered how anyone could be listed as a “Norwegian beach volleyball player,” until I Googled it and discovered that Norway actually does have at least one beach. Nila commands our respect, not only because she probably only had a four- to five-day seasonal window in which to practice, but also because while on the beach trying to serve and return the ball, she would have been constantly blinded by the almost neon-white bodies of her fellow Norwegian sunbathers. Respect.

Happy birthday, Nila and the puppies. Keep on rockin’ it, just like Deniece!

See you soon,

-Smidge


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