Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Hybrid Education

The sun is up and the house is quiet. The only thing I can hear is the dog breathing. This can only mean one thing… That’s right, I moved away from my family and took the dog!

Just kidding. It means THE KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL!!!

Sorta. We are back to school part-time, two to three days a week. It’s not the normal full-time schedule I was hoping for, but I’ll take anything I can get. I haven’t had peace and quiet during school hours since March, which was fifty-six months ago.

On the days they are home, the boys are doing “asynchronous learning,” which is a fancy word for ten minutes of homework, one five-minute Zoom attendance check in, and seven hours of Minecraft.

It’s what the school is calling a “hybrid” schedule, and it should be interesting. In order to be able to teach the same amount of material on campus in half the time, classes are being combined to form a “hybrid education.”

For example, PE has been combined with Math. Students are asked to run at a full sprint around the track for forty-five minutes. At the end of the session, they formulate ratios between how many students threw up and how many students actually passed out. Later in the semester they correlate the data between the classes that take place before lunch and after lunch and look for trends.

Language Arts (English, for those of you over the age of thirty) has been combined with all the elective languages (Spanish, French, Profane, etc.) to form one universal language class. That’s right! We’re bringing back the one true world language, Esperanto! The people that were promoting it to me in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s will be thrilled. Assuming they are still alive. If not, they probably won’t be that thrilled at all.

Woodshop has been combined with Home Ec, which should be exciting. Students will learn how to build a kitchen table, at which they can sit and enjoy their culinary creations. Halfway through the table building unit, however, all the lumber will be destroyed in a massive grease fire during the hybrid turkey deep frying unit.

Theater has been combined with Chemistry and is actually being taught by the campus landscape crews to free up some teaching staff. This should really produce some explosive live performances this year, especially if they explore all the different reactions of fertilizer and lawnmower gasoline.

The extra teachers will be helping with a three-way hybridization of Computer Science, Sex Ed., and Aquatics. I can’t for the life of me see that going well, but I am just trusting that they have a plan.

And lastly, History has been combined with Creative Writing. But that’s nothing new.

Happy return to school, everybody!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Why, Mexico, Why?

I’ve got a problem with you, Mexico. On the one hand, you are an excellent neighbor. A quick scan of Wikipedia shows me that we purchase over eighty percent of your exports, which include “manufactured goods, electronics, vehicles and auto parts, oil and oil products, silver, plastics, fruits, vegetables, coffee, cotton, and silver.”

That’s all good stuff! And I notice silver is listed twice on there. Thanks for that!

I’d also like to personally thank you for salsa, tortilla chips, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, some outstanding college spring break trips, tacos, chimichangas, carne asada, Cinco de Mayo, tostadas, tamales, Modelo beer, Carlos Santana, fajitas, guacamole, those little street tacos, and those masked luchadores wrestler guys that inspired the movie Nacho Libre. Oh, and also nachos!

There is one export that has me scratching my head, though. This leads us to my problem with you. I am, of course, talking about the Chihuahua.

This little dog is ridiculous, and it’s all your fault. You can’t deny it. Not only is the breed’s country of origin officially listed as Mexico, but you named it after one of your states!

Why?? Why would you want to take credit for this thing? What was the motivation behind breeding a bizarre little dog the size of a guinea pig with the personality of a weaponized pit bull?

It conveys nothing good about the state of Chihuahua, or the country of Mexico as a whole.

How did those initial conversations go, back in Old Mexico?

“Hey, Juan, check out these little perros we ended up with. Our smaller-than-average normal dog got out a few months ago and went looking for amor. She apparently hooked up with a large rodent of some kind?”

“Wow, those things are weird looking!”

“Yes, they are! Do you think we should try to make more of them?”

“Definitely! Only smaller and with bigger, weirder looking eyes.”

“Yes! Big bulgy eyes that are way too big for its cabeza. How about feet?”

“Tiny, with oversize, clicky toenails.”

“Bueno. Ears?”

“Also far too large for its cabeza, obviously. And pointy, of course.”

“Claro. Ooh, speaking of the head, do you think we should go for ever-so-slightly the wrong size for the body? I was thinking of having it random. You know, either too big or too small, but never the right size.”

“That is a great idea!”

“Gracias. How small should we try to make these perros?”

“I’m thinking we try to get them down to the size of a large rat.”

“Excellent idea. Should they have any redeeming features, dog-wise?”

“No nada! They definitely should NOT get along with other dogs. Or strangers. Or our friends. Or our neighbors. Really, I’m thinking they just shouldn’t get along with anyone or anything.”

“Bueno. Should they be useful at all?”

“Only as noise makers. And on that note, let’s make sure they are really loud. Like, louder than they should physically be able to be, size-wise. But, like, squeaky loud, you know? Not that good deep dog bark. That’s annoying.”

“So, essentially, we’re trying to breed the exact opposite of a Great Dane?”

“Perfecto! Our great state of Chihuahua, Mexico will be known for producing the loudest, meanest, weirdest-looking, most useless dog per pound de todos los perros del mundo!”


“Who do you think will want one?”

“Taco Bell, for sure. Probably a lot of other people, too, for some strange reason.”


Thanks for that, Mexico. What a treat. You’re still on the plus side of the equation, based on all the good stuff you offer, but those damn little dogs are really hurting your numbers. Those and the drug cartel guys.

But mostly the Chihuahuas.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

National Crappy School Picture Day

It’s almost here!! Tomorrow, September 10th, is the fake national “day” that Lifetouch School Portraits is trying to start! It’s National School Picture Day tomorrow!!

As you can see by the excessive exclamation points, I can hardly contain my excitement.

If you have ever had a child in school, or been given a child’s school picture, you obviously already know that Lifetouch is not good at taking pictures. They built a business around going to schools and then selling parents pictures of their kids, but forgot the all-important step of finding photographers willing and able to take actually good pictures.

Now they are asking us to post our favorite old school pictures to the internet tomorrow with the tags #Lifetouch and #NationalSchoolPictureDay, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant since they can’t be on campus taking pictures of your child with food stuck to their face.

I know, I know. All you parents and grandparents out there are still sad about the fact that you won’t get school pictures this year. You always hope for the rare good ones, but there isn’t even the possibility of getting the inevitable crappy Lifetouch pictures of your little darlings this year. Never fear. We now have a solution that will get you both!

Step One: Dress your child in picture day clothes and put them in front of a finger-painted swirly gray or blue background. Get your cell phone ready and say “poopy butt.” Elementary schoolers will laugh immediately. You may need to say it two or three times for high schoolers, but they all laugh eventually. Snap a few photos while they are laughing and boom, you have an actually good school picture for the year.

Step Two: Post your old crappy Lifetouch school pictures on Facebook.

The best of both worlds!

Now remember, when you post those bad pictures, I don’t want you to use Lifetouch’s suggested tags. The people at Lifetouch do not possess the ability to tell a good picture from a bad one. The humor will be lost on them and they will only be encouraged.

I do, however, really want you to post your bad Lifetouch school pictures to MY Facebook page (Marc Schmatjen), so we can all get a kick out of just how much they suck at taking school pictures. If you want to give them tags, you can use #CrappyLifetouch and #NationalCrappySchoolPictureDay.

You can find me at

We can start today. We don’t need to wait until September 10th.

Let the crappiness begin!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A Third Open Letter to the School District

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

I am writing to urge you to reopen our schools as soon as possible. I mean like tomorrow. We need to avert a monumental tragedy, and opening schools across the nation is the only way to be sure we can avoid it.

Schools need to reopen now in order to save Lifetouch School Portraits from certain doom. I fear they will go out of business otherwise.

We need Lifetouch in our lives! Obviously not for good quality school pictures. They are incapable of that. We need them for the joy they spread through the sheer absurdity of the images of our children that they attempt to pass off as good quality school pictures.

Without the fall and spring comic relief that Lifetouch offers us as parents, raising our children would simply be overwhelming.

This matter is extremely urgent, as Lifetouch is already showing signs of desperation. They are clawing at the walls of their school-less prison, and they need our help. They have already gone as far as attempting to create a new “national day.”

Emails have been blasted to anyone who has ever had even the remotest contact with their little photography hobby shop, announcing the creation of “National School Picture Day” on September 10th.

In addition to some “nominate a great teacher” thing, they are asking us to upload our previous school pictures that they took, so we can all create a national yearbook.

National School Picture Day, established by Lifetouch, is an opportunity to relive our school pictures. It’s a chance to bond over the fads and faces that make school pictures such wonderful artifacts. And, this year, we’re creating the ultimate yearbook.

As an example of how ludicrous they are as a company, and why this type of comedy is so valuable to the mental health and stability of us parents, one must look no further than this email, keeping in mind they sent it to us on purpose.

The email contains three examples of the amazing school portraits they have captured over the years. One shows a boy in giant reading glasses, with awful lighting resulting in his glasses casting shadows on his face, and his head casting a shadow on the time-honored swirly gray school picture background behind him. We can see that he is, at least, smiling, even though his chin is being partially obscured by his enormous shirt collar, which is also casting a shadow.

Another is a photo of a little girl not even looking at the camera. Instead, she is closing her eyes and turning her head. This unfortunate situation is offset, however, by more bad lighting, as per standard.

Think about this. These are the pictures that Lifetouch is purposely showing us in an attempt to keep their business relevant!

“Hey America, check out these crappy pictures we took and charged these families money for! Please engage with us online so we can stay alive and continue to be your go-to crappy school photography company for years to come.”

I mean, that is just gold, people. That is the kind of comic relief that you can’t put a price on. Humor like that can pull you out of even the darkest parenting funk. We need Lifetouch to stay in business, even if the business they are in is entirely undefinable.

We need schools back open so there will be long lines of kids with food stuck to their faces to shuffle into the seats in front of the inadequate and poorly placed lights.

Open up our schools and help keep this national treasure alive and well. It’s not a question of whether we want school pictures. We need our school pictures!!

We need the good ones we take ourselves and send to relatives, and we need the ridiculous ones from Lifetouch to keep us all going as a people, united in humor.

Open schools tomorrow, save Lifetouch, and save our nation.

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

COVID Positive

Let’s face facts – these are dark times in our nation’s history. My mask is starting to smell funky but I can’t wash it because it’s paper, there’s a national coin shortage of some sort that may or may not be affecting us in some way, and it’s an election year, so ridiculous politicians keep trying to get our attention. Add in the fact that the kids won’t leave the house and insist on staying home all day distance “learning,” and it’s easy to get discouraged.

But, my friends, we must not despair. We must look on the bright side of things. Sure, distance learning is just about the worst thing ever, but let’s try to find the good in it, shall we?

Here are fifteen positive things I can think of about the fact that our kids now go to school in our living rooms:

1) Teachers are probably saving hundreds of dollars on air freshener because the classrooms don’t smell like stinky teenagers anymore.

2) Teachers can now drink during school hours.

3) This is a great time for kids to improve their grades. It’s so much easier for them to cheat on tests now.

4) With the need to use so much technology now to even take role each day, teachers are unknowingly padding their resumes with IT skills. This will come in handy for the eventual career change after the nervous breakdown.

5) Kids’ eye-hand coordination will improve dramatically, since the absence of sports has freed up so much more video game time.

6) It’s never been an easier time to be a PE teacher or a librarian. Apply today.

7) The food service and janitorial folks are getting a much-needed break.

8) On-campus disciplinary actions are down a dramatic 100%. Vice Principals are now freed up to snack and nap.

9) Kids have no pesky opportunities for social-emotional growth, not having to deal with their peers in person, so they can happily stagnate at home in front of the computer in their pajamas. Yay!

10) Instances of lost retainers in lunchroom trash cans also down 100%. Retainers are now conveniently lost at home.

11) No tri-fold poster science projects this year! This completely frees up your night before it was due.

12) Back to school night now has a full bar.

13) Parents, no need to leave work early this year to get to the third-grade performance of Friendly Neighborhood Helpers in the multipurpose room. You can stay at work, in your pajamas, in your makeshift bedroom home office with the door securely locked.

14) Snow days are finally available nationwide, any time the internet goes out.

15) And now that they don’t get together in person, it’s a lot tougher for the high school girls to get pregnant!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

COVID-19 Shutdown Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 89

Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 89

The Summer of Bummer has officially ended with the lamest “start” of school since the middle ages when the illegitimate sons and daughters of royalty were forced to report to monasteries and nunneries to be hidden away forever.

Our seventh-grader started his exciting middle school run upstairs on a couch he made himself out of three chairs and a futon. Check the Woodshop and Home Ec. boxes simultaneously.

Our incoming freshman began his exciting high school years in our living room, on a regular swiveling office chair. Intro to Business credits!

Our sophomore was already sitting at his computer screen, so he just shrugged and said, “whatever.”

California just couldn’t figure out how to get everyone back to actual school. I’m not even going to pretend to understand the decision-making processes being used, but as a logic and numbers guy I still maintain that it would have been safer for the kids to be required to return to school as long as no one was allowed to drive there.

I can’t thank California enough for all the fun shopping and family IT manager opportunities this has provided me. Laptops, Chromebooks, monitors, Wi-Fi extenders, printer ink and paper, keyboards, mice, desk pads, swivel office chairs, protective floor mats for under the swivel office chairs, white boards and pens, and the list goes on. What ever would I do with my time and money if it wasn’t for school at home? Probably just waste it on stuff like food and retirement savings.

Also, without this opportunity, I never would have known if I could convert a single-family home into a working office. Turns out I can’t. It really ended up being a crappy excuse for an office inside a home that now looks like a crappy office. Sweet!

And the increase in screen time has been just what the doctor ordered for my teenagers! Their gooey developing brains are just soaking in all the goodness, and it shows any time we pry them away from their devices. What caring, cooperative, and patient personalities this is breeding!

And let’s not forget about my delightful screen time increase. What a nifty collection of emails I’ve received in the last few weeks. Just a quick count in my Gmail shows eighty-four emails in the past two weeks, many of them containing links to videos. That’s six a day, including weekends. A big shout out to the superintendent, principals, assistant principals, counselors, teachers, librarians, athletic departments, coaches, food service staff, front office personnel, custodians, yard duties, crossing guards, student body presidents, and activities directors for cranking those out! I’ve never been more informed about the unprecedented-ness of our unique and challenging situation.

Happily, the schools have also provided me with something to fill my downtime between emails and videos. Gone are the days of simply hearing at dinner about how class is going from your child, and talking quarterly with their teacher. We now have so many more options, digitally, to stay engaged in real-time while they are actually learning during each day, just down the hall.

I’ve had the pleasure of creating accounts with a number of different online learning platforms used in a wide variety between the fifteen different classes I am now invited to keep up with, through helpful reminder emails, each day.

It’s a darn good thing that all the California parents like myself were able to quit their jobs and stay home to manage all this learning!

Maybe I’ll enroll in online school while I’m at it. Perhaps some IT and education classes? That would probably help tremendously in my new role as home school office IT manager.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. The Wi-Fi is down. Everyone just got kicked out of class.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Flu Game Shame

I just finished watching “The Last Dance” on Netflix. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s the story of Michael Jordan’s career and the intertwined story of the Chicago Bulls’ twin three-peats. I must say, it doesn’t matter if you’re a sports fan or not – it is riveting television.

Along with Tiger King, it comes with my highest Netflix recommendation.

I remember the three-peats, but I was unaware of a very important fact that came to my attention in episode nine of the documentary – a fact that brings utter shame on the entire state of Utah.

It happened before the fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. The game was in Utah and the series was tied 2-2, and in a best-of-seven series, game five is huge.

Game five went down in the history books as “The Flu Game,” because Jordan was sick as a dog the night before, in bed all day before the game getting fluids through an IV, and looked like the walking dead when he went out onto the court.

I remember the flu game, but I did not know the real story. The story that casts a shadow of ignominy (Greek for “you suck”) over the entire beehive state.

Jordan and the Bulls were staying at the Marriott in Park City. It was 10:00 the night before game five. Jordan was in his hotel room hanging out with his bodyguards and his personal trainer. He was hungry and they were trying to find him some food.

The hotel’s room service was already closed, and no restaurants were open except for one pizza place that finally answered the phone. Jordan’s trainer ordered the pizza and a little while later five guys showed up to deliver it, all trying to get a peek inside the room.

The trainer paid for the pizza at the door and brought it into the room, but didn’t have a good feeling about the whole situation. When was the last time five pizza delivery guys brought you your large thin-crust peperoni? That is a full four more pizza guys than the industry standard single pizza guy.

Jordan’s trainer told the room about the group delivery and expressed his concerns, warning against touching the pizza for fear of foul play. It was obvious the pizza guys knew the food was going to the Bulls, and maybe they even knew it was going to Jordan himself. Michael was hungry enough that he said screw it and ate the whole pizza himself.

Four hours later, Jordan was hurling his guts out in the hotel bathroom.

Flu my ass.

But let’s just forget about the pizza for a minute. Here’s the thing, Utah – Jordan scored 38 points that night and even had the clutch three-pointer with 30 seconds left in the game to put it away. He beat you guys with the “flu.” That was impressive enough at the time when we all thought it was the actual flu, and served to show that you guys, as a basketball team, never really had a chance.

Now, not being able to beat the Bulls in the ‘90s is nothing to be ashamed of as a basketball team, but let’s face it – if you can’t even do it when Jordan is near death, that should tell you something.

Now let’s get back to the pizza and the tarnish of shame it brings upon your entire ridiculously straight-bordered state.

First Pizza Scenario: Assuming the pizza was purposely tainted in an attempt to disable one or more of the Bulls players, that means you had residents of Utah who had zero confidence in your ability to win a championship on your own. Nice fan base, losers. Shame on you.

Second Pizza Scenario: Assuming the food poisoning was accidental and the pizza was not purposely tainted, that means you have a state that can’t even make a pizza right. The city of Chicago beats the entire state of Utah in basketball and pizza. Shame on you.

Overriding Utah Food Scenario: You suck at food service in general. You have a state with major hotels that shut down room service before 10:00. Seriously? And your restaurants can’t muster the strength to stay open much past sunset either, huh? What a fun place to visit! Congratulations on being the lamest state anyone has ever heard of. Shame, shame, big, fat food service shame on you. Gordon Ramsay will be flying in soon to yell at you. Try not to faint from all the strong language.

I’m not even mad about the Jordan pizza thing. You got what you deserved with that one. I’m mad that if I visit your pretend state, apparently I won’t be able to get a cheeseburger at 11:00 at night.

Get it together, Utah. That is just sad.

And shameful.

See you soon (not you, Utah),



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Google+ You = Just You - Repost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The note concluded with this:

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

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

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

See you soon,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


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

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Prepare for the Scare

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

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

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

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

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

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

One day you will:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Masking the Problem

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

Think about that for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Thank You, Joe Wong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Shotgun Wedding? - Repost

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy anniversary, baby!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Low Percentage Mail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

High on the Hog

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

You heard me right. Coked-up pigs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck, Italy. Buona fortuna.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Second Open Letter to the School District

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s where I stopped reading:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

In short, we need them out of the house!

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Unlimited Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And probably on ourselves, too.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

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