Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Don't be Foolish, it's Tax Time

Your taxes were due yesterday. If you didn’t get them filed in time, fear not. Agents will be knocking on your door momentarily to take you to your new home, where you get three meals a day and don’t have to pay for anything. Sweet!

A few years ago, I thought I would try to make those of us not in prison feel a little better about our tax bills by calling attention to some of the wonderful government agencies that our hard-earned dollars go to fund.

So I went to USA.gov (motto: “Please don’t ask a lot of questions”), and looked up the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. After reading for a while, I realized there was no way I was going to make anyone feel better about paying taxes, so instead I bet myself that I could click on every letter of the alphabet and come up with a ridiculous agency that should never have been started in the first place.

I failed to find an insane waste of money under each letter of the alphabet, but that was only because there were no agencies that started with the letters Q, X, Y or Z.

I have updated the list of current agencies for you again this year. Here’s the fun places your 2017 tax dollars are headed:


Administrative Conference of the United States (motto: Leave us alone. We’re still conferring. Offsite.)

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (motto: Buyer beware. And seller, too. We’re coming for all of you.)

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (motto: It goes in the upper right corner, dammit!)

Delaware River Basin Commission (motto: Getting paid to stare at water since 1961.)

Economic Adjustment Office (motto: Please be patient. We’re redistributing your money as fast as we can.)

Federal Geographic Date Committee (From the website: An interagency group that promotes and coordinates the production, use, and publication of geospatial data. Well, thank God someone is doing that!)

Government Ethics, Office of (motto: We can’t even fit all the irony into one building.)

House Office of the Clerk (Main functions include running the offices of deceased and retired representatives – I am not making that up.)

Inter-American Foundation (From the website: Provides grant support to Latin American and Caribbean grass-roots groups and non-governmental organizations with creative self-help ideas. Can’t we just send them Tony Robbins?)

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (motto: We will sue you in as many places as possible.)

Kennedy Center (motto: Please stop asking about Marilyn.)

Legal Services Corporation (motto: That might be legal now. There’s been a lot of changes.)

Marine Mammal Commission (We’re investigating the narwhal. He seems like a troublemaker.)

National Agriculture Statistics Service (motto: Still excited about that 1957 bean crop!)

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (This is not where we hide all the bribes and kickbacks and stuff. We swear.)

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (Just kidding, we spent it all. Here’s a third of what you were promised. We borrowed it from social security. Shhh!)

Risk Management Agency (motto: We manage our risk with your money. No problemo!)

Surface Transportation Board (We don’t trust those Department of Transportation guys to handle the surface. There’s just too much of it. It covers the whole country, you know?)

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (We changed our name from “Taxpayer Advocate Service” because too many people thought we would actually help. You’re still screwed.)

U.S. Election Assistance Commission (motto: Helping you get crappy officials for generations to come.)

Veterans Day National Committee (We’re thinking November 11th again this year.)

Washington Headquarters Services (We are here to serve headquarters. In Washington. Don’t ask a lot of questions, OK?)


It really bothers me that we don’t have Q, X, Y, or Z agencies yet. We’re only four more ridiculous money-wasting agencies away from having the whole alphabet covered. Just off the top of my head last year, I suggested the Quicksand and other Swamp Dangers Mitigation Exploratory Committee, the Xylophone Standardization Council, the Yo-Yo Injury Prevention Task Force, and the Zeppelin and Lighter-than-Aircraft (Unmanned) Aviation Standards Advisory Board, and not one of them has been added this year. It’s as if Washington isn’t listening to me at all.

As far as the current agencies go, keep in mind, folks, I limited myself to only one department per letter of the alphabet. This list of agencies whose only concern is to justify their funding for next year could go on for days.

Even more disturbing than the fact that the lists grow each year, is the fact that not all the agencies are listed under the “Complete A-Z Listing” of government agencies. In years past, if you dug a little deeper on USA.gov you could find the rest of the disheartening lists – a list of Independent Agencies and Government Corporations, a list of Boards, Commissions, and Committees, a list of Federal Advisory Committees, and my personal favorite, a list of Quasi-Official Agencies. I can’t seem to find any of those lists this year. Hmm… I’m sure that means they all got shut down because they were unnecessary or borderline illegal, right?

Sure.

If that isn’t scary enough for you, then I invite you to forget all the agencies, boards, commissions, committees, and departments, quasi-official or not, that we may or may not be allowed to know about and simply ponder this:

According to Congress, it takes around $5.3 billion per year just for them to turn the lights on and run the show. Not all of Washington, D.C., mind you. Just Congress. Not the White House, plus the Supreme Court, plus the Pentagon, plus the army and stuff. Just Congress. Five and a third billion dollars. Billion with a “B.” Five thousand millions.

They “work” about one hundred seventy-five days per year. That means we’re talking $30 million a day.
Even if we generously assume they work twelve hours per day, that’s $2.5 million an hour.
That’s $42,000 per minute.
That’s $700 per second. For Congress to keep the doors open.

(And, let’s keep in mind that it was Congress themselves who told us how much they are spending. So, in reality, it’s probably a much higher number, since they have a tendency toward keeping some of their agencies and stuff off the main list.)

In the time it will take you to read this sentence, the U.S. Congress will spend $8,500 of your money (or probably more) on nothing more than working hard to dream up even more hidden quasi-official agencies to help spend the rest of it.

Holy crap.

The real April Fools’ Day is not April 1st. It’s April 15th.

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, April 11, 2018

Different Waze to Die

During Easter break, now popularly known as the-completely-coincidental-break-in-the-spring-that-has-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-a-major-Christian-holiday (see also, Winter Break), we traveled by car down to the LA area.

For those of you unfamiliar with the LA area, that’s sort of like saying we traveled by plane down to the place where all the planes just sit there and can’t fly.

For most of our travels we knew where we were going and didn’t require any electronic navigational aids, except for one destination. We took the boys to Universal Studios one day and needed some guidance to get there.

Earlier in the trip my wife had been experimenting with Waze and Google Maps, comparing which app gave us the most accurate arrival times. But we were driving in the LA area, and consequently hearing all the arrival times became so depressing we kept shutting the apps off before we arrived.

When it came time to use one of them, she chose Waze, and we were off. We left early in the morning, knowing we had at least an hour and a half of driving, and wanting to get to the park when it opened. The early hour may have been the only thing that saved our lives.

Unlike Google Maps, which sticks to freeway routes and just relays the depressing news to you about how late you’re going to be, Waze actively attempts to avoid the red sections of the freeway by using neighborhood streets as shortcuts. That’s just dandy, except for the fact that the people over at Waze are not taking everything into consideration.

In their corporate headquarters, somewhere in the shiny Silicon Valley no doubt, they are simply seeing available streets for use on a nice, cartoony map of the USA. “Hey, look, it will save this nice LA commuter two minutes if we jog them over on I-710 and down Hermosa Avenue to I-10 instead of staying on I-5. Hermosa Avenue – that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?”

Well, let me tell you, Waze employees, Hermosa Avenue may look like a wonderful shortcut on your screen, but in real life, it will scare the hell out of you. In the first four blocks we saw two chop shops, a crack house, a drug deal in progress, three good places to get murdered, two places to pay to have someone else murdered, three liquor stores, four hookers, and an entrepreneur named Skinny T offering crazy-good deals on ammunition and gently used car audio components from a table on the sidewalk.

Not really what we had in mind for our family drive to the amusement park.

I’m sure the early hour of the day was our saving grace, since it appeared to be a shift change. All the really bad guys had no doubt just retired to their comfy beds after another hard night of felonious skullduggery, and the daytime thugs weren’t up yet.

You folks at Waze may not believe this, but this was not my first near-death experience with computer route-mapping software. In the early days of the internet, MapQuest actually tried to route me down a boat launch ramp in Stockton once. Fortunately, I realized the error before finding out how floaty my car was or wasn’t. All their software engineers are probably retired from their careers in the fast food industry by now, but I assume you learned some valuable lessons from their ground work, as it were.

And of course, I realize that your Waze navigation system operates on continually-updating algorithms that are simply trying to get me from A to B in the shortest time possible, and the area of map software as a whole has vastly improved, but I’ll make a few minor suggestions if I may.

For starters, you might try getting some crime statistics uploaded to your databases. Your app did a nice job of alerting us every time there was a police officer up ahead of us on the side of the highway, but I’m guessing that feature was designed to warn speeders. You probably don’t want your users thinking, “Oh, thank God!” when they hear the police alert.

If you were to gather crime data and start overlaying the street names in the police reports onto your maps, you could form a risk model for each route.

I, as the driver, could then input my acceptable level of risk for my trip, and you could route me accordingly. If I was unsure of my personal risk profile, you might even be able to give me options, like showing me two or three different routes and telling me important information about each, such as, “This route will get you to your destination 7 minutes faster, but you have a 57% higher likelihood of being caught in the middle of a gang war than with Route A.”

You might even be able to give me a Murder-Free Routes Only button, for when I’m with the family. A No Hookers button could also be a nice option.

I realize you meant me and my family no harm, and to your credit, we never saw any boat launch ramps. Nevertheless, I sure found myself wishing there was a Stop Trying to Get Us Killed button that morning.

Food for thought.

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, April 4, 2018

House Cougar

It happened last Friday. The moment I lost all remaining faith in our general public and our education system. If you want to document the date and time for historical purposes, it occurred on Friday, March 23, 2018 at approximately 12:15 P.M.

That’s when the call came into the Rocklin Police Department’s main board. “There’s a mountain lion roaming around near Rocklin High School.”

“Holy crap,” said school officials, probably. “We can’t have a cougar on campus. That could be dangerous. We have no idea where it might go. I mean, we know it will steer clear of the cafeteria, because, seriously, have you tried the food? But it may eat one of the students. They’re sitting ducks. They never look up from their phones.”

The school went on temporary lockdown, enacting the standard wild animal intrusion protocol. First, all the students were moved to the gymnasium, the teachers and staff forming a human corridor to guide them so they wouldn’t bump into walls and doorjambs while concentrating on their phones. Once the kids were secured inside, the teachers and staff went to work emptying the cafeteria kitchen, stacking the school lunches to form protective wildlife-repellant barriers around all the entrances.

With everyone safely behind the impenetrable walls of rubbery chicken strips and rock-hard gluten-free corn muffins, the administrators monitored the situation as Rocklin PD and animal control arrived on the scene.

After a thorough search of the campus came up empty, including inside the cafeteria, just to be safe, the police cleared the lockdown. While all the officers on scene said they were not particularly frightened about the possibility of running across a mountain lion, many of them reported negative phycological effects from their search of the cafeteria, apparently having flashbacks to their own high school histories with the Friday chef’s surprise.

As the students got back to class and the cafeteria officers sought counseling back at the station, animal control officers stayed behind to review the surveillance footage of the campus and the surrounding area.

The video search results were made known to the media, and later in the day the following was released by a local news outlet:

Officers and animal control couldn’t find any trace of a lion.

Video later revealed that the animal was just a large house cat.

Police say they encourage residents to continue to report sightings so that officers can properly determine any potential risk to the community.

A large house cat.

I am not making that up.

Someone in Rocklin, CA, which is located in America, saw a house cat and thought it was a mountain lion. The caller had to be an adult, because if it was one of the high school students there would have been thirty-seven selfies with the cat in the background prior to reporting the sighting, and the lockdown would have been avoided. Plus, most high school students are unaware that their phones have a phone feature. They would have tweeted the selfie to the Rocklin PD’s Twitter page. “omg r u kidding? cutest mountain lion photobomb!”

So an American adult saw a house cat and decided it was a cougar.

I really wish I was making that up.

“Police say they encourage residents to continue to report sightings…” Yes, I guess that’s what the police have to say to the public. I guarantee what police say in the privacy of their own patrol cars is, “A %*^$# house cat!? What the $%##& has happened to #@%&% common sense?”

I am hereby proposing a new rule that should make the police happier: Anyone who looks at a house cat (large, extra-large, or even jumbo), and calls the police thinking it’s a mountain lion gets tazed.

Or they have to eat lunch at the school cafeteria. Either way.

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, March 28, 2018

Have a Nice Autumn

We as a people need to figure out how to be nicer. Specifically, we need to solve the problem of “Have a nice day.”

I think we can all agree that we need more nice in this world and less mean. We need more love and less hate. More sweet and less sour. More good and less bad. More pizza and less kale. You get what I’m trying to say.

One good starting point for that effort would simply be for everyone to be more pleasant to each other. To that end, like many of us, I try to wrap up most of my interactions with the tried and true, “Have a nice day.”

In the spirit of needing more nice in the world, occasionally I’ll step it up to a “Have a great day,” but even that isn’t going as far as I’d like. Now, don’t get me wrong – having a great day is what I wish for everyone, but it’s simply not as far-reaching as I’d like to be.

What I mean is, I don’t just want people to have a nice day. I want them to have a life-long series of nice, or even great, days. Expressing that, unfortunately, is where the problem lies.

We should all be wishing that stranger on the street or behind the counter a lifetime of nice days, but saying “Have a nice life” does exactly the opposite of that. If you say “Have a nice life” to someone, you’re basically telling them to go jump in a lake. Nothing says, “I never want to see you again,” quite like “Have a nice life.”

If you wanted to try to step up your interval of wished happiness just a little from the standard one day, you could tell someone to “Have a nice week.” That’s nice and all, but it gets confusing to the other person, because it implies that you will see them again in seven days. You’re trying to spread happiness, not confusion.

You can tell someone to “Have a nice weekend,” which is perfectly acceptable and non-confusing, provided you do it on Friday, or possibly even Thursday. If you try to get away with it on Wednesday, people will only envy you for your ridiculously short work week, which completely takes away from the nice sentiment. If you say it on a Monday or Tuesday, they’ll just think you have no idea what day it is and might start to worry about you, again, defeating the purpose.

“Have a nice month?” Same “Am I supposed to see you again in thirty days?” problem as “Have a nice week,” but with the added issue of possibly bringing unwarranted worry into their lives. What’s next month? Is something supposed to happen that I don’t know about? Taxes? Holidays? Is my mother-in-law coming to visit? What did he mean by that??

Out past a month, your only options left are seasons. If you wish someone a nice spring, fall, or winter, they’re just going to look at you funny, or ask, “What the hell do you mean by that?” The only one that really works is “Have a nice summer,” but it has a big problem. It’s only good for teachers and students. If you say it to anyone else, it will backfire. You’re just reminding them that all the teachers and students have the summer off and they don’t. Not cool.

So there’s the problem, America. We want to spread more good in the world, but we’re largely unable to do it any faster than one day at a time. How do we speed this up? How do we extend the time interval of good wishes?

“Have a nice year?” Probably not.

At this point, it seems like we’re stuck with wishing each other one nice day at a time, so maybe the answer is simply adding something else nice and complimentary on top of it?

How about “Have a nice day, you magnificent bastard!”?

You guys try it out and let me know how it works.

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, March 21, 2018

Ask Smidge - Week Two

Last week’s advice met with such a tremendous amount of ambivalence that we couldn’t wait to answer more of America’s burning questions. Ask Smidge is back for another round.

As always, you are encouraged to send your questions to our new email address – asksmidge@gmail.com

And remember, Ask Smidge is open to any topic. This kind of wise and thoughtful advice just shouldn’t be limited to one area of your life. Open up, America!

Let’s get to the questions, shall we?

Smidge,
My dog is shedding like crazy. We have dog hair on every inch of the house and ourselves. What can we do?
Signed,
Hairy in Harrisburg

Dear Hairy,
There is nothing you can do to stop your dog from shedding, short of a full shave, and you don’t want your dog to be naked at the park. It’s embarrassing for you and the dog. Lint rollers can’t keep up, so there’s really only one option: camouflage. You should always buy a dog that’s the same color as your pants. Shedding is no longer an issue when the hair is invisible. Since you already have the dog, you’ll need to get new pants. Happy shopping!



Smidge,
I’m fresh out of Boise State and looking to get one of those sweet California Bay Area tech jobs at a start-up that has bean bag chairs and pays me only in stock options so I can retire by the age of 27. Any advice on interviewing strategies?
Signed,
Believing in Boise

Dear Believing,
Tech start-up people love corporate buzz words, so use a lot of them. You need to say things like, “I actualize and cloudify all the backend bandwidth to effort our cross functional client-focused future-proof network models.”
But you also have to be hip and cool, so finish with something like, “I leverage synergistic outcomes like that in my sleep, yo.”
Oh, and always have a cup of $11 coffee in your hand. And a beard.
Happy interviewing!



Smidge,
We need some potty advice. Our oldest two are girls, and we didn’t have this problem with them. Our son, the youngest, just potty-trained a few weeks ago, but he’s having trouble with his aim. I’m really not sure if any of the pee ever gets in the toilet. Any suggestions?
Signed,
Scrubbing the Floor in Scranton

Dear Scrubbing,
We have three boys, the oldest of whom is 13, and he still misses the toilet regularly. Our 9-year-old even occasionally manages to pee on the wall behind the toilet. There’s no hope. All you can do is buy Scrubbing Bubbles by the pallet for the volume discount and encourage them to pee in the backyard as often as possible. At least you only have one!



Smidge,
I work in middle management at a large consulting firm. I started my career with high hopes, but these days I feel pretty expendable. I want to make an impact, but I honestly feel like I’m just lost in a sea of other nameless, faceless employees, toilingly meaninglessly until five o’clock. What can I do to get the spark back and be noticed?
Signed,
Depressed in Denver

Dear Depressed,
I feel your pain, but you’re looking at this the wrong way. You need to take a good hard honest look at your job and ask yourself, does it really need to be me, specifically, that shows up, or could it be anyone? The vast majority of employees - and certainly you in particular - will need to honestly answer that it could be anyone. Take my job, for instance, as a professional writer. Anyone could do this. In fact, it’s not me writing this, and you didn’t even notice. Take my advice and embrace it. Then shop around for an out-of-work manager, or even a college kid looking to make a few bucks, and hire them to go into the office for you. Cut them in for 20% of your salary and meet me at Applebee’s for happy hour. Cheers!



Smidge,
Since it fell on a Saturday this year, we had a crazy St. Patrick’s Day party on our block, that may have even gotten a little out of hand. Green beer was flowing and I was introduced to a fun drink called an Irish Car Bomb. The last thing I remember was kissing someone dressed as a leprechaun for good luck. Good times. But I’ve heard they don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Is that true? If so, they are missing out!
Signed,
Slightly Green on Sunday

Dear Slightly,
I’m glad you had fun, and you don’t need to worry about the Irish. They celebrate St. Patrick’s Day much more than we do. Although, they don’t call it St. Patrick’s Day. They call it Tuesday.



There you have it; another week of partially satisfied customers. Remember, you, too, can benefit from this kind of sage advice by emailing your questions to asksmidge@gmail.com

You’re welcome, America!

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, March 14, 2018

Ask Smidge

After countless requests for me to start an advice column - and when I say countless here, I mean there were none – the time has come. Move over Dear Abby, Ask Smidge is here.

Ask Smidge is open to any topic of your choosing. We do not limit ourselves to relationship advice, mostly because I know very little about relationships.

You, our beloved readers and needers of quality Smidge advice, are encouraged to send your burning questions to our new email address – asksmidge@gmail.com

We here at Ask Smidge are committed to reading every single question we receive, so remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people who ask questions. If you happen to be one of those people, I probably won’t answer your question in the column so much as read it aloud to all our friends and neighbors and have a great big laugh at your expense.

But rest assured, if we do determine your question doesn’t merit a response in the column due to your insanely small brain, you will never be named or made fun of in the Ask Smidge column. (I mean, not unless the question was just that ridiculous.)

Thanks in advance!

Let’s get to the questions, shall we?

Smidge,
My teenage son doesn’t seem to listen to me, or anyone, and he’s always moody. I try to connect with him, but he just grunts at me and asks for more food. What can I do?
Signed,
Frustrated in Freeport

Dear Frustrated,
Rest assured, your son is normal. The problem lies in the inner-working of his brain. The male teenage brain has the same makeup, functionality, and capacity for rational thought as a cantaloupe. The only thing you can do during this time is encourage him to take as many showers as possible to combat the onslaught of body odor, and try to keep your hands and feet away from his mouth while he’s eating. Past that, it’s like owning a large monkey. Good luck!



Smidge,
Our teenage daughter is moody, irritable, and seemingly insane at times. I try to talk to her about what might be bothering her, but half the time she just cries, which makes me very uncomfortable. My wife tells me that our daughter is going through a lot and it’s natural, but I don’t know what that means. Please help me.
Signed,
Uneasy in New Orleans

Dear Uneasy,
I don’t know anything about women either. (The teenage kind or the adult kind.) If I were you, I’d move out until it all blows over. Best of luck.



Smidge,
I’m hosting a barbecue this weekend and would like a recommendation. Which type of wine pairs best with steak?
Signed,
Parched in Pocatello

Dear Parched,
Beer.



Smidge,
Our new puppy is chewing on everything, but has a special affinity for shoes. She has destroyed countless pairs of expensive shoes and we’re at our wit’s end. Help!
Signed,
Shoeless in Seattle

Dear Shoeless,
Dip all your shoes in a large vat of Tabasco sauce. The puppy will stop chewing them, and you will never get athlete’s foot again.



Smidge,
I fear that our toaster may be broken. We were toasting a bagel and using the microwave at the same time when our teenage daughter inexplicably plugged her hair dryer in in the kitchen. (Something about how all the bathrooms in the house are worthless…) Anyway, I think the toaster got overloaded, because it sparked momentarily and let out a cloud of smoke that smelled awful. Now it will not turn back on. Is there a reset switch or something?
Signed,
Untoasted in Topeka

Dear Untoasted,
Electricity can seem like a complicated and mysterious thing, but it’s actually fairly straightforward. Electrical current is simply the movement of electrons from one place to another. In order to move, the electrons are vaporized by the amp volts, and travel along the various wires and circuits (known collectively as the “capacitor,” or the “fuse”) in the form of black or white smoke, depending on which wire they are in. Any time the circuit (or, “watt”) is overloaded or otherwise damaged, the electron smoke can be accidentally released from the appliance. Your toaster has lost all its electricity and won’t work anymore. You need a new one.



There you have it, folks. That’s just a small sample of the expert advice waiting for you when you send your questions to asksmidge@gmail.com

You’re welcome, America!

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, March 7, 2018

Taxination Pending

Boy, am I in trouble. And not the usual kind of “you left the toilet seat up again,” or “you’re not watching the boys closely enough and they started a fire on the sidewalk again” kind of trouble I’m normally in. This is much worse. I’m in trouble with the IRS.

I know what you’re thinking. All those years of claiming the neighborhood kids as dependents every time they ate a snack at our house finally caught up to me. You might be right. Or maybe it was claiming the dog as a business expense since I bounce book ideas off her? Who knows? All I know is it’s serious.

I received an official phone call from a mechanical robot voice the other day. It’s even worse than I thought. The IRS has obviously implemented Terminator-type robot agents to do their wet work. “Taxinators,” if you will…

The Taxinator robot didn’t even wait for me to say hello. It just got right to the point.

Hi, this is officer Magnus calling from Washington, D.C. with the criminal division of the IRS.

Holy crap. The “criminal division.” More like the execution division. I’ve seen the Terminator movies. Those silver robots are ruthless. They literally have no ruth whatsoever.

Taxinator Magnus may have started cordially, but the one-sided conversation quickly took a hard edge.

The matter as of hand is extremely time-sensitive and urgent, as after audit we found that there was a fraud and misconduct on your tax which you are hiding from the federal government.

Hmm… Taxinator Magnus’s American English Grammar and Idioms chip seems to be malfunctioning a bit. Maybe it got damaged in an IRS Criminal Division shootout?

Be that as it may, I am deeply concerned that there is a fraud and misconduct on my tax. But, I have to wonder… if I’m really hiding it from the federal government, then how do they know about it? Probably some kind of special next-level Taxinator computer processing tax fraud and misconduct algorithm. Who can tell with these type of things?

This need to be rectify immediately, so do return the call as soon as you receive the message.

Boy, again, it really seems like, given the existence of all this futuristic Taxinator malfeasance-sniffing software, they would be able to fix that grammar chip. Besides my internal need to rectify the tense of his verbs, agent Magnus hung up before I could figure out exactly what he wanted me to do.

I realize “the matter as of hand” is extremely time-sensitive and urgent, but am I supposed to return his call now, or wait for an unmentioned second message? I mean, he said call back as soon as I receive the message. Not this message.

On the one hand, I don’t want to make my fraud and misconduct problems worse by accidentally ignoring the Taxinator’s instructions. On the other hand, I don’t want to anger a six-foot-tall metal-alloy killing and auditing machine by not following its instructions to the letter.

As a writer, I guess I am duty-bound to follow the grammatically correct path. So, I’ll just fortify the front door, make an emergency escape plan to fall back to the steel mill, and wait patiently for another official message from Washington D.C.

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, February 28, 2018

An Open Letter to the Movies

Dear Whomever is in charge at the movies,

We need to talk. I’m not sure which of you is in charge of the movie previews, so I’m writing to all of you about all the adult content in your trailers.

Now, let’s be clear. I have no problem with movie trailers that have adult content, if the movie has adult content. That’s great. In general, I’m pro adult content, being an adult, myself (chronologically, at least).

And before we get too far into this, I’d like to thank you all for continuing to make movies with adult content. I tend to enjoy them.

What I didn’t enjoy recently was when you chose to show these movie trailers with all the adult content. You see, my wife and I took our three sons - ages 13, 11, and 9 - to see Marvel’s new movie Black Panther.  

It’s rated PG-13, so I know what you’re going to say all defensively at some point – “Hey Mr. Parent, how come you brought an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old to a PG-13 movie?” To that, I would respond, “Bite me.” We did our homework.

We always do our homework, and Black Panther is rated PG-13 for violence. It’s almost all hand-to-hand combat stuff, and frankly, on a normal Wednesday afternoon, our boys’ fights make the movie’s combat look tame. (All three of them are available for hire, by the way, if you’re ever looking for small stunt men.)

There was one bad guy in the movie who had a cannon hidden inside his fake arm, which I didn’t consider an issue. I considered it to be what it was - completely awesome.

What we are mostly concerned about as parents these days is explicit content. There was hardly any bad language and the only remotely sexual parts of the movie were a few brief kisses.

But you know what I didn’t get to do my homework on ahead of time? That’s right - which trailers you were going to show ahead of our acceptable PG-13 movie.

The first one was for a fun little rated R film called Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. Turns out she’s a Russian hooker/spy/assassin.

That’s nice.

The trailer started with her sitting on a hotel bed in a low-cut red dress. A man puts a stack of money on the nightstand and says, “Take off your dress.”

Thanks for that.

Then she kills him with a garotte and leaves the hotel. Then we get to hear the back story, narrated by a nameless American spy - she’s part of a group of young Russian officers called the Sparrows, who are trained to seduce and manipulate.

Great.

Oh, look, you flashed over to a future Sparrow watching a training film containing two women in black leather bikinis with riding crops, fuzzy blindfolds, and choke collars.

That’s nice.

Then there’s more rapid-fire images of Jennifer Lawrence seducing people with various parts of her body, intermixed with blood-sprayed walls and dead people.

Gosh, movie people, thanks for that fun visual and auditory learning experience for my kids.

You followed that gem up with a hilarious romp of a trailer for the raunchy comedy I Feel Pretty - also rated R - starring Amy Schumer.

I assume you folks over there in the movie business know who Amy Schumer is. So I assume you know that nothing even remotely PG-13, PG-14, or even PG-28 has ever come out of her mouth. She’s the female Andrew Dice Clay without the weird New Jersey accent.

And yet, there she was on our screen, standing in her underwear in front of a full-length mirror, woman-handling her boobs.

Thanks, movies.

Apparently, her character is not happy with her body or her life in general, until she hits her head and wakes up thinking she’s a gorgeous supermodel.

It was fun when you showed the footage of her entering a bikini contest and gyrating on stage, crawling around seductively while running her fingers over a bar patron’s lips, and pouring water on herself.

What was also really great was when she was obviously totally naked, telling her boyfriend he was getting “a sneak peak of what’s to come.”

That was a special time for our family.

So, again, to be clear, a sincere thanks from me for making those movies. I want to see both of them. But you showed their trailers to my kids ahead of a Marvel comic book movie about a cool superhero guy who fights crime with a magical armored body suit and a neat accent.

That was stupid of you. Your target audience department needs to be fired.

Please do me, and the rest of the parents of America, a favor – if you don’t have any relevant and appropriate trailers to show, just play some more ads for your snack bar with that $35 tub of dancing popcorn.

Or on second thought, don’t. Just show us the damned movie.

Thanks a million,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Thirteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

Gosh, fellas. Who woulda thought, only a few short years ago as I wrote you my first letter, that we’d need to get all the way up to letter number thirteen? But here we are.

I have felt, for a number of years now, that you might not be reading any of these letters that I so graciously spend my time and energy writing you. That was mostly due to the utter lack of response I have received from you. I see now how wrong I was.

Foolishly, I assumed you would respond to my helpful business advice with a civilized letter, a phone call, or maybe a nice note on your website. But it seems you are the petty, passive-aggressive type. You have chosen to take my sincere and constructive criticisms with a malice that was never present on my end. And you have chosen to take the low road; responding not to me, but instead, viciously attacking my children’s self-esteem.

Well, not all of them, actually. For some reason – probably rooted deep down in your brutal, calculating business core – you have chosen to retaliate on the weakest member of our herd, the youngest – Son Number Three.

Have you no shame? Have you no decency? Or are you going to claim innocence in this matter and try to convince me that you don’t have anyone in the building who can spell common English names?

No, I’m not talking about “Schmatjen.” That’s not common, or English. I mean, I think we can all agree that Schmatjen is a ridiculous last name. I expect it to be misspelled. I can’t even spell it correctly myself half the time.

But given the last name, we purposely gave all three boys traditional, easy-to-spell first names. Not like my parents, who doubled down on the crazy with Marc instead of Mark. We decided to give our children the gift of only needing to explain the spelling of their last name.

And yet, here in my hand is the class picture you produced. And there’s my youngest son, smiling sweetly in his cowboy hat and red bandana. (You may recall from Letters Eleven and Twelve your culpability in that make-up picture day costume extravaganza, which, by the way, may have either ruined our Christmas tradition of framed school portraits for the grandparents, or made it infinitely more awesome, depending on if you ask my wife or me. Guess who won that argument? Thanks again for that, jackasses.)

Anyway, there’s his smiling face… and there’s his “name” under his photo. Yep, there’s our son, Josepm Schmatjen.

Josepm? Seriously?

Congratulations. You got “Schmatjen” right, but couldn’t seem to pull off the easy first name. If this isn’t a backhanded attempt at retribution, then please tell me what’s going on over there.

Did you guys think my son was a nocturnal Hispanic child with a cool nickname?

Who’s coming over tonight?
Jose PM. We’re going out for another late night on the town.
Oh, I thought Joseam was coming over.
Nope, that kid’s always in bed by seven.

Or did you outsource the “Kids’ Names Below the Pictures” department to India, like you probably did with your call center? The reason I ask is his classmate Abhaijeet’s name is spelled correctly. Do you have some underpaid guy in a tiny office in Mumbai still trying to grasp all these crazy American names? “Timothy” is still a mystery, but to him, “Chhailbehari” looks like “John.”

I really don’t know what you have going on over there, but since you never reply, I’m forced to speculate. Given the deterioration in our relationship, I can’t help but think this might have been personal. I sure hope it wasn’t.

Hey, I just had a thought. Maybe I’ll send Son Number Three back for retakes dressed like a lifeguard with white zinc oxide on his nose. With a slight tweak of his already misspelled name I could use your free picture services to launch his career as Joe SPF, sunscreen model.

Let’s talk.

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Part I and II - Reposts

You get a two-fer this Valentine’s Day. These words are as true today as when I wrote them oh, so many years ago. And unfortunately, I know even less about women now, so I have nothing new to add. Enjoy, and have the best Valentine’s Day you can possibly have, given the fact that it’s impossible to fully enjoy. Cheers!


“Valentine’s Day”
Originally posted February 14, 2012

I am coming up on ten years of marriage, so I thought, this Valentine’s Day, I would help all you guys out by imparting to you all of my knowledge about women. This should be pretty quick.

All you guys out there who have been married longer than ten years can refute this entire article, since marriage is an ever-changing, dynamic situation. All those of you out there who have been married less than ten years, treat this advice like the gospel itself. I know what I’m talking about!

All my vastly limited knowledge about women boils down to what I have learned about “quality time.”

In the beginnings of marriage, usually, unless you did things in the reverse order from the standard procedure, you don’t have any kids. You both work, and other than that, you have no responsibilities whatsoever. It’s awesome. You come home from work, and spend the entire evening together. You go out to dinner all the time, and you have more money than you know what to do with, even though, at the time, you think you’re poor. Boy, were you wrong.

Then the kids come and you find out the true definition of poor. When the kids are newborns, you foolishly think that you have no free time, but again, you are wrong. It is only when they grow up and start going to school and playing sports, and karate, and piano that you truly have no free time.

As your married life progresses and the kids get older and stop staying where you put them, your couple’s together time gets less and less. After almost ten years of marriage and three children, hypothetically seven, five, and three years old, you and your wife see each other for about twenty minutes a day.

As with anything in life, when you start running out of time, you invariably are forced to concentrate only on what is critical. For example, if you were only given five minutes per day to eat, you would not spend any of that five minutes chatting or doing the dishes. You would be stuffing your face with anything that was even remotely edible within arm’s reach for the entire five-minute period.

I think, as a general rule, guys tend to be much more pragmatic in those squeeze-play situations than women do. For instance, if a guy is on a boat and the captain suddenly starts shouting orders at him in an excited voice, most guys will tend to just grab the winch handle and start cranking it clockwise like they were told to do. It is more of a female trait to pause for a moment and wonder if the captain doesn’t think they can follow orders without being yelled at, or if they did something earlier in the day to make him angry with them.

When the couple’s together time gets squeezed down to twenty minutes per day, both parties naturally agree that they’d better make that time count, and make sure it’s all “quality time.” This is where the differences between men and women come into play. Both parties yearn for “quality time” with each other, but unfortunately, both parties have different definitions of “quality time.”

Now, like it or not, us men are pretty simple animals. Our “quality time” standard is universal, and does not involve clothing. Enough said.

Women, on the other hand, are very complex and complicated creatures. Their definition of “quality time” is a fast-moving target, based on a multitude of different factors that may or may not include the weather, the rude clerk at the department store, the temperature inside the house, their awesome boss, the cable company, their idiot boss, the smokin’ deal on spaghetti sauce in the paper, the kids’ reaction to dinner, the tone of your voice, the cost of living, the note from the teacher, the situation in the Middle-East, your cute text this afternoon, your son’s snotty attitude, the neighbor’s stupid dog, and any number of other things that you cannot possibly know about, but have a heavyweight bearing on the situation.

Nine times out of ten, your wife’s definition of quality time that day involves you doing a lot of listening, and cuddling on the couch, usually fully clothed. When that is the case, guess what you’ll be doing?

If you thought that you would be receiving some incredible nugget of wisdom or some sage-like advice at this point, you were dead wrong. I’ve got nothing. I don’t know any more about women than I did ten years ago. In fact, all told, I know a lot less.

All I really do know is that you’d better get on board with her definition of quality time if you ever hope to have her get on board with yours.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and good luck out there, men!

See you soon,

-Smidge

“Valentine’s Day, Part II”
Originally posted February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day is a confounding “holiday.” The number of people around the world who actually enjoy Valentine’s Day is very, very small. Most women will probably tell you that they enjoy the day, but they’re lying. They’re only saying that because they don’t want to be seen as “anti-romance.” Truth be told, Valentine’s Day is very stressful for most people, men or women.

Let’s try to figure out who really likes Valentine’s Day. No man in the history of the world has ever liked it, so take out roughly half the population of the earth. Sure, it’s a day dedicated to romance, so if a guy plays his cards (and flowers) right, he might get rewarded for his efforts. However, this is a day where he is expected to be romantic, no matter what. If he happens to forget and go about his business as usual, he will be in deep trouble. Birthdays and anniversaries are one thing, but Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year where every guy in the world can simultaneously get into a special, life-long, still-bringing-it-up-twenty-five-years-later kind of trouble, just for doing the same thing we did the day before. By the mere act of being yourself, you can be branded for life as an uncaring idiot, if you happen to forget the 14th of February. Who needs that?

By my (incredibly limited) experience, cards and flowers have a much more positive impact on her emotions (and on your love life) if they are given when she is not expecting them. A specific day of the year when they are mandatory?  Far too much pressure. And speaking of pressure, it is entirely one-sided. There has never been a man in the history of the world who’s has had his feelings hurt when his wife or girlfriend didn’t get him a card on Valentine’s Day. The onus is all on the men. Heaven forbid you screw it up, boys. If you do, Valentine’s Night will be pretty lonely. It’ll just be you and your onus.

As I said at the beginning, no man has ever liked Valentine’s Day, but that doesn’t mean they all dislike it. Single men who are not dating have no particular feelings towards it one way or the other. They could care less about it. Single women who are not dating, however, hate Valentine’s Day. This is due to the fact that men and women are polar opposites when it comes to feelings about anything other than food and shelter being good things. Valentine’s Day for the single female is a myriad of emotions, all of them probably serving some sort of anthropological function, but none of them that you want to get anywhere within forty feet of. Most of these emotions will be doused with wine, which can either have a suppressive effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a single match, or in most cases, an accelerant effect, much like throwing a bucket of gasoline on a campfire. Either way, it is best to observe the forty-foot perimeter.

Valentine’s Day for the single male means a shorter wait at the pizza place.

For women who are dating or married, Valentine’s Day is stressful. Not as stressful as it is for their men, but some amount of the man’s stress is transferred to the woman. That’s because the women know that we won’t get it right, no matter how hard we try, so they spend the weeks before Valentine’s Day worrying about what we’ll get wrong. Will he screw it completely up like I think he will, or will he surprise me and get it almost right? Never mind perfect. That ain’t happening.

Women who are dating someone casually worry that their significant other will go overboard and try too hard, making Valentine’s Day awkward instead if nice. Women who are dating someone seriously worry about the marriage proposal. If she feels that the proposal is imminent or overdue, she will worry that he won’t ask her to marry him. If she feels like it isn’t proposal time just yet, she will worry that he will ask.

In my estimation, women who are already engaged to be married are the only ones who truly enjoy a stress-free Valentine’s Day. If a lady’s fiancé has a track record of forgetting Valentine’s Day, she probably wouldn’t be engaged to him in the first place, so there is much less of a chance that she’s worried he will forget. (Naïvely, she thinks he will always remember the day once they are married. Boy, is she wrong!) There is no proposal pressure or worry, since that already happened, and since both parties are in constant communication about romantic stuff like wedding plans, chances are the guy will have a pretty good idea of what to do for the gift. Jewelry, flowers, chocolates, just a simple card… He is about as locked in as he’s ever going to be on what she wants. He will never know for sure, however, because reading a woman’s mind is a lot like reading Sanskrit in the dark. You’re never going to get it exactly right.

So, of all the people currently on the planet, the only ones who enjoy a truly worry-free and relaxing Valentine’s Day are most of the engaged women, and a handful of female newlyweds.  That probably works out to be far less than one percent of the population.

This leads me to the question of why we still have Valentine’s Day in the first place.

I don’t buy the argument that it’s just a day created by the greeting card, flower, and chocolate industries. It goes deeper than that. We all feel like we have to participate, because the men don’t want to be seen as the Scrooge of February, and the women don’t want to be left out. Truth be told, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed if the day just went away, but stopping Valentine’s Day is an all or nothing deal. If there is one single solitary guy left on the earth still buying flowers for his fiancé on the 14th of February, the rest of us are going to hear about it.

Until those engaged guys can stand up and say no, we’re all going to have to keep going with it. Those engaged guys are weak. They are scared to screw anything up, and rightfully so. They don’t know what they’re getting into, and they know they don’t know. They are yes men, just trying to survive. They will never help us.

So, we’re stuck with it. Do your best, and hope for the best. That’s all we can do.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go see if they have any Valentine’s cards left at the gas station mini-mart. My wife loves those cards. I think.

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, February 7, 2018

An Open Letter to Our Parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

I want to apologize for everything.

Your eldest grandson is now thirteen years old and has become a total butt. This development is probably no surprise to you, but we were caught completely off guard. He used to be so nice and now he is a moody, stubborn turd.

I mean, we still love him and all. It’s just that we don’t want to live with him half the time anymore. Come to think of it, this is probably why they invented boarding schools on the east coast, huh?

Anyway, like I said, this probably isn’t a shock to you, since you had me. Hence my apology. Looking back on it all, I remember knowing everything there was to ever know. If only I knew half as much today as I thought I knew then!

I was always right. I was convinced of everything. I had opinions that could not be argued. I didn’t want to hear it. I was not nice. I was probably mean to my sisters but thought they were really the ones being mean to me.

I had no goals or plans or skills of any kind. I had nothing to do all day but still complained about doing anything at all. My judgement was crap and my ability to plan was even worse.

My comprehension of cause and effect was nonexistent. I was impulsive and dumb and unable to come up with a good reason for anything I did, other than, “Whatever. I don’t want to talk about it.”

I understand now that this all stems from the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex – which, as any reputable brain surgeon will tell you, is probably located directly north of the post-rearward cortex – is the part of the brain in charge of not being a giant butt face. Apparently, no one’s works at thirteen.

The nice folks at the middle school sat us down at the beginning of the school year and told us all about the lame-o prefrontal cortices of thirteen-year-olds and what to look forward to. I’m not sure I totally believed their hype at the time, but now I’m thinking they might have held back some of the more disturbing information just to keep us from trying to preemptively sell our kid.

Too late for that now. Anyway, I just wanted to say sorry for my teenage years. Sorry for being such a turd, and thanks a million for never kicking me out of the house.

To return the favor, I guess we will continue to provide room and board to your intolerable butt of a grandson.

Love you both,

-Smidge


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen


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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Something Stinks at the DMV

We have had a major shift in our public services. The script has been flipped, as the cool kids say. The Department of Motor Vehicles used to be the gold standard for government inefficiency, but not so anymore. Based on a few news items that caught my attention recently and my own personal DMV experience this week, I would have to conclude that the DMV is greased lightning compared to our justice system.

Don’t get me wrong. The DMV still sucks immensely. They’re just doing it much quicker now. I had a DMV appointment at 8:30 A.M. on Monday to get new license plates. I walked out at 8:32 A.M. with my new plates. The thing that took the longest was having to walk all the way around the line of eighty-five people without appointments to get out the door. Moral: Don’t go to the DMV without an appointment. And also, based on a recent news story, if you have an appointment to get a commercial drivers license, but can’t pass the test, you should bring bribe money. Apparently, it speeds the process along.

Yes, the headline reads: Two California DMV managers investigated in bribery scheme.

For the second time in just over a year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is dealing with a federal investigation for bribery.

According to court documents obtained by KCRA 3 Investigates, Kari Scattaglia and Lisa Terraciano, both managers at the DMV in the Los Angeles area, accepted bribes to allow drivers to get commercial drivers licenses that allow people to drive semi trucks, tour buses and other large commercial vehicles.

You read that correctly. People who had no business doing so were driving tour busses and semi trucks, thanks to the California DMV.

The complaint… states that the two managers had been taking money to give passing grades and commercial licenses since 2013.

Over the last year, federal agents set up sting operations at least six times where they asked the two managers to change failing grades and grant Class C licenses.

So, here’s my problem with this. It’s not that two government employees thought they could use their positions of power to cheat and steal. That’s like breathing for a lot of government employees. Sad, but not shocking. My problem is with the federal agents who felt the need to set up six separate sting operations over an entire year, and apparently have known about these two idiots for FIVE years.

Hey, federal agents, how about just one single sting operation and remove them from their jobs right away, huh? Throw them in jail or don’t, but get them out of the DMV so Bad Choices Bob, the Unsafe Truck Driver, isn’t hurtling his massive rig down the highway near my family while he smokes crank and continues not knowing what the minimum safe following distance should be for an 80,000-pound Peterbilt with forged maintenance records.

And these two ladies weren’t the only DMV employees in on this lucrative off-books retirement plan. There have been investigations in Sacramento and San Joaquin County as well, both spanning multiple years!

Ultimately, the DMV admitted that more than 600 illegal commercial licenses were issued in the Northern California scheme. The office would not reveal how many more commercial licenses were allegedly issued by the two Los Angeles-area managers, claiming that it was an open investigation.

Six hundred truck drivers on the road in Northern California, and an untold number in Southern California, all of whom had no business driving a Miata, let alone a semi or a tour bus. That actually explains a lot about the state of things out on the highways these days, but it does not explain this: How, in this situation, are the good guys as slow as the DMV, and the DMV is finally efficient, handing out bogus licenses as fast as McDonald’s hands out heart disease.

I mean, maybe the federal investigators didn’t have an appointment and had to wait in that line. Maybe that’s why it took five years to stop these people. Who knows?

The other news item that caught my attention was from all the way over in Kansas City, Missouri, but ties in perfectly in my mind with the California DMV story. The headline reads: Suspect's farting shuts down interrogation.

A police interrogation of a Kansas City man charged with drug and gun offenses ended prematurely when an investigator was driven from the room by the suspect's excessive flatulence.

A detective reported that when asked for his address, 24-year-old Sean Sykes Jr. "leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering."

The Kansas City Star reports that Sykes "continued to be flatulent" and the detective was forced to quickly end the interview.

How could these two stories be related, you ask? Simple. If our federal justice system is really concerned with justice, those bribe-taking California DMV employees will all be flown out to Kansas City and put in the same air-tight cell with Sean Sykes Jr.

Having Mr. Sykes transported on a plane to California just seems too risky for everyone involved.

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, January 24, 2018

High School Knowledge Week

I went back to high school today. Not my own high school, but a very similar one. It felt the same. The smell of gym socks and mysterious cafeteria “food” has not changed much in thirty years.

It’s career week at Rocklin High, and they invited me to speak about being an author. I wanted to speak about being a bullfighter, but they said it was better to stick to things I’d had direct experience with, so whatever. Author it is.

I really had a fun time sharing my knowledge and insights with the students about authoring, but I also felt like I left a lot on the table, advice-wise. I mean, I gave them plenty of advice about being an author, such as, “If you want to be able to afford food and clothing, be a dentist instead,” and “Never name your evil villainess after your mother-in-law if you can help it.”

But I really wished I could have gone a step further and given them general high school life advice. The format and time constraints of the day wouldn’t allow for it, but there was definitely more wisdom I wanted to impart, such as:

- Talk to the girl. She’s nervous and self-conscious just like you are, even if all you see is her being amazing and you having zits. If she wants nothing to do with you, smile and say, “OK, no sweat. I hope you have a great day.” Or cover her front yard in toilet paper at midnight. Either way you want to play it is cool.

- Pay attention, you idiot. The things they are teaching you do not suck and are not lame. This is all stuff you will need in life. Except algebra. Algebra does suck and is lame. No one uses algebra in their job.

- Here’s a good joke for your math teacher:
What does the little mermaid wear to math class?
An algebra.
You’re welcome.

- While you are here, learn to form grammatically correct sentences on paper and with your face. If you can’t do that, you will always work at the car wash.

- Drive while driving. And drive as little as possible while you’re in high school. You think you’re amazing at it, but you’re not. You suck at it. So much.

- Stand up straight, look people in the eye, have a firm handshake, and speak clearly. In other words, stop being you and start acting like a human. It’s time.

- Quit wearing beanie hats unless it is below 45 degrees. Never wear them indoors, unless you work in a walk-in freezer.

- Be extra nice to your joints – your knees in particular. Trust me.

- Go to any other country before you start college. Just go. You don’t need any money.

- Get your hair out of your eyes. For you boys, it makes you look like a lazy slob. For you girls, it makes you look like Cousin It. Not good, either way.

- Go to any other country after you finish college. Just go. You still don’t need any money.

- Sit up straight.

- Your parents know a lot of useful information, and they want you to have it because they love you. You don’t know anything useful at all. Listen to them and stop being a turd.

- And no, having “likes” on your selfies is not useful. Stop taking selfies and learn how to cook a steak properly.

- Pronounce words correctly.

- You will get out of college exactly what you put into it. So be sure to study. Also, be sure to learn how to do an upside-down keg stand properly. Both are vitally important to college.

- Seriously, stop wearing beanie hats.

- Get a job if you don’t have one yet. You are not too busy. Throw your cell phone away and you just freed up 80% of your day.

- Once you learn something, start your own business with zero dollars in your bank account. If you fail, big deal. You’ll still have zero dollars. If you succeed, you’ll have more than zero. It’s just simple math.

- Deodorant. Always.

- Don’t say, “To be honest with you...”
It gives the impression you aren’t being honest all the other times.

- And above all else, remember -  Us adults are just as lost as you, but we have mortgages. Stay in high school. You have no idea how good you have it.

I’m going back tomorrow to talk to more students. Maybe I’ll find time to fit some of this good stuff in.

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!