Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Be Best Life!

I got the best Christmas gift EVER this year. It’s a crappy ninety-nine-cent as-seen-on-TV plastic bag sealer that is really hard to operate and works poorly. I could care less about the bag sealer. I am in love with the little cardboard box it came in.

The WORKWONDER SUPERSEALER is made in China by a Chinese company that obviously has two copywriters. One of these people has some background in using the English language. We’ll call him Bob. The other has to be the owner’s son, and after disappointing performances in many different departments, copywriter was the least harmful position his dad could think of to stick him. We’ll assume the owner’s name is Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang doesn’t know any English either. Bob is obviously terrified of Mr. Wang and won’t tell him that Son of Wang partied continuously for four years at the international university in Beijing and knows no English whatsoever.

In a few places on the box, Bob invites me to Just slide SUPERSEALER across bags to seal in freshness!

Son of Wang tells me, Relaxed onepulls, guarantees quality to retain freshness. Based on what we get from Son of Wang in his main paragraph, I guarantee Bob helped him with the last half of that sentence.

Here’s Bob’s effort on selling us on the amazing benefits of the SUPERSEALER:

Finally an inexpensive and easy way to perfectly reseal unused poutions of food. This amazing new SUPERSealer creates an airtight seal that locks in freshness.
You simply slids SUPERSealer along the edge of any bag and it’s sealed airtight. It’s that easy. You’ll not only save on storage bags, but you can save even more buying bulk at warehouse clubs. Just use your SUPERSealer to reseal any unused portions over and over again!

I never claimed that Bob was great. I just said he has some background in English. He’s not the best speller, but I do have to give him credit for using American sayings like, “locks in freshness,” and “it’s that easy.” That would suggest that he has a better than average grasp on American English than your standard WORKWONDER employee.

Here’s what Son of Wang had to offer us. I swear, I am not making any of this up, and keep in mind, folks, this is written on the SAME BOX as Bob’s paragraph.

Have sometimes been able to affect your state of mindbecause of a lot of situation such as damp , becomingmildewed , depraved , water leaking from in the dailylife, have used you feel very vexed , good under this , have had the convenient plastic bag of new model seal implement , have all have made stable , no matter howvexed your nonutility be. Collection such as all food , clothing and other articales of daily use , postage stamp, you have put plastic bag lining inside as long as with them , seal machine has taken form lightly with convenient adheaive tape of new model as soon as the fault , one have protection against the tide , mould proof, the herm etic sealing bag retaining freshness. Such is simple , the simplicity is comfortable, be best life!

After reading the box about a hundred times (and laughing out loud every single time), I have to assume this conversation took place at the WORKWONDERS office prior to printing the box:

“My dad wants you to proofread my copy, Bob. What do you think?”
“This is the most unintelligible thing anyone has ever written. What the hell, Wang?”
“My dad is the owner. I’ll have you fired.”
“Looks great. Let’s print that box!”

Thank you, Son of Wang, for giving my family our new motto for 2017.

Be best life!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gift of Life - Repost

This year for Christmas I got my wife new non-stick cookware that I will personally use almost one hundred percent more than she will. For some reason, that made me think of Christmas three years ago when I gave my wife a new shower mirror for me.

Here’s the explanation. Enjoy!

December 25, 2013

Of all the modern-day Christmas miracles out there, the one that stands out the most to me is the female of the species. Sure, there are many miraculous things about women - childbirth, ability to multi-task, speed of emotional state changes, willingness to ask directions, and the list goes on and on. But I’m talking about a very specific skillset that women have, that gets highlighted during the holidays - The ability to wrap gifts.

Sure, anyone with opposable thumbs can wrap a box up with paper, but women possess the unique ability to do it without having it end up looking like it was done by a drugged chimpanzee with an unnatural love for Scotch tape.

I am a reasonably smart guy, insofar as I can brush my own teeth and dress myself. I can drive a car, heat up canned food without burning the house down (knock on wood), and even do algebra problems with less than two variables. I was trained by a world-class university in California to be an engineer, and they even gave me a diploma. (Although it was never signed... When I asked them about that, they said, “Just take it and go!”)

Legitimate college diploma or not, you would think that a man who can set his own alarm clock would be able to get better at gift wrapping as the years went on. Sadly, that is not the case. I seem to be getting worse, actually. I don’t even bother trying to put bows on gifts anymore. The bow was meant to increase a gift’s appeal – adding to its beauty. My attempts at bows have the exact opposite effect, making the gift look even more like it was attacked by wolverines prior to ending up under the Christmas tree.

I apparently lack every skill necessary to make a present look attractive, because I can’t even use gift bags correctly. When they first became popular I thought gift bags were my salvation, until my wife informed me that you must put tissue paper on top of the gift, and have some of it stick out of the top of the bag. Sounds simple enough, and she makes it look so easy, but try as I might I cannot even put a simple piece of tissue paper in a bag and have it protrude properly. It always ends up looking like I am giving you an unwanted bag of used tissue paper instead of an enticing and mysterious gift.

There is an upside to my total lack of skill with wrapping paper, however. I am never asked to help with the Santa gifts. We want Christmas to remain magical for as long as possible with our boys, and even my five-year-old would know something was amiss when he saw my ridiculously lopsided end folds.

I only had to wrap one present this year. I took my time, concentrated, started over a few times, and it still looks like I wrapped it with my feet. I am just never going to be good at it. While I may be horrible with the wrapping paper, I must say, I am a genius when it comes to the gift itself. This year I got my wife the gift of life. My life.

What better gift for a spouse than a gift that helps ensure her partner will be around for many more years to walk through this crazy world with her, hand in hand? What magical gift is this, you may ask? The answer is simple. I bought my wife a new shower mirror for me.

Confused? So was she. Go figure.

It’s really quite simple. We have a mirror in our shower that I use to shave. It’s a 6-inch round plastic-framed mirror that is attached to the shower wall at my face level with a suction cup. The suction cup is getting old. Twice in the last few months, the suction cup has failed to do its job of sucking, and the mirror has fallen off the wall and loudly down onto the floor of the shower. Both times this happened it was the middle of the night. When the shower mirror bangs around at the bottom of the shower in the middle of the night, the glass shower walls have an amplifying effect that makes it sound as if a truck has just driven through the wall of the bathroom and completely destroyed the shower.

When I hear a truck drive through the wall of our house and obliterate our shower in the middle of the night, I sit bolt upright in bed with my heart going approximately five thousand beats per minute. Over the roar of the blood jack-hammering in my ears I hear my wife mumble, “It’s just your shower mirror,” as she casually rolls over to go back to sleep. I have no idea how she stays so calm, but I am positive that my heart cannot take a third shower mirror suction cup failure.

So, to ensure that my wife has a live husband going forward, I bought her a new shower mirror. This time with a more permanent wall attachment than a suction cup.

Thoughtful? I thought so. All she said was, “Oh look. You gave yourself a new mirror. What a great gift for me.”

I assumed that she would have immediately understood the underlying implications of a long and happy marriage that will be given to us by this simple new mirror, but her tone of voice seemed more than a little sarcastic. Hmm…

Well, it might not have been the most well-received gift ever, but at least the wrapping job sucked.

Merry Christmas, baby.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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, December 14, 2016

The 2016 Do-it-Yourself Christmas Letter

Admit it. You’ve spent all your holiday energy since Cyber Monday glued to your computer screen. Amazon now gets nervous and calls you if five minutes pass without you adding something to your cart. UPS and FedEx both have a guy who’s just assigned to your house. You’re expanding your Christmas list to include people you met once on a vacation ten years ago, just so you can justify buying that amazing picnic basket wine opener that doubles as a tire iron.

You are the reigning champion of online shopping. But do you know one thing you forgot? Your Christmas letter. You fool! It’s too late now. It will never get to everyone on time. Even Amazon Prime next day express locker pick-up can’t help you now, because personalized Christmas letters are the one thing Amazon doesn’t have. They sell corn litter, car lashes, cheese logs, coconut lotion, and concrete lions, but not Christmas letters.

But never fear. You know who has Christmas letters every year? For FREE? Yep, ol’ Smidgey Claus, that’s who. Take that, Jeff Bezos.

I’ve created another handy do-it-yourself template to help you crank out your 2016 Christmas letter in no time flat. As with previous years’ templates, just fill in your last name(s) in the blank and circle the appropriate choices, and you're in business. Now back away from that Add to Cart button and get to work. You’re welcome!

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas to (all/a select few) of our friends and family. This year was another (blessing/real winner) for all of us here at the _______________ family.

Dad can’t say (enough/anything good) about his (care team/luck) at the (hospital/track) this year. He was (injured/wiped out) by a horse (on a trail ride/named Lucky Sevens) when it spooked (from a snake/out of the gate) and threw (him/the jockey) to the (ground/third row of the stands). He busted his (hip/entire year’s salary), but he said the thing that hurt the most was his (pride/bookie’s brass knuckles). He’s been doing (physical therapy/odd jobs) and is all healed up now and ready to get back (on/to betting) the horses.

Mom is still (volunteering/incarcerated) at the women’s (shelter/prison). There seems to be no end to her (heart for service/wicked ways). She had an opportunity for (travel/early parole) this year, and (took/blew) it. She went off (to Spain/the rails) with her (girlfriends/prison gang). They (danced/fought), (sang/looted), and even (ran with the bulls/shanked a rival gang member). It seems as if they may have started a (yearly tradition/full-scale prison riot). Whatever the case, she got (the travel bug/time added to her sentence) so we won’t be seeing (as much/any) of her in the next few years!

Sister is busy with her (executive career/exotic dancing) during the (day/evening) and her (three/six) kids during the (evening/day). We don’t know (how/why) she does it! Her (loving/latest) (husband/baby daddy) is such a huge (supporter/enabler) for her. They are even thinking of (buying/renting) a (vacation home/10x12 space) at the (beach/U-Store-It) as a second home! We’re all waiting for (our invitation/the next guy).

Brother is still heavily involved in (his church/illegal street racing). He has become a (deacon/gang leader) and heads up the (children’s ministry/Flaming Nitros). He is such a (light/menace) to so many of our (youth/citizens). Even with all that, he still manages to hold down a job at (Intel/Arby’s) in the (design/horsey sauce) department, and raise (his kids/hell) with his (wonderful wife/hooker girlfriend).

As for us, things couldn’t be (better/more depressing). My (amazing/unbearable) wife is (nominated/leaving me) for a (Grammy/Walmart clerk) and she deserves (it/him) more than anything! I just received a (promotion/pink slip) at work, and I’ll be moving to a corner (office/bar) soon. The kids are all (thriving/flunking) at school, and driving to and from (sporting events/juvenile court) seems to be our main activity.

As for you, well, our wish is that you are having as (blessed/crappy) a holiday season as we are. If that’s the case, we know you’re (doing great/in the same boat), and we can rest easy with the knowledge that (life is wonderful/at least it’s not just us).

Merry Christmas!

You’re welcome! Now just sign, copy and send. You’re all set.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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, December 7, 2016

HIPAA Critical

Son Number One just turned twelve years old. I have a news flash for you. Most eighteen-year-olds are idiots. What do those two things have in common? Health care, obviously.

Eighteen-year-olds are, by definition, still teenagers, and therefore some of the most irrational and irresponsible creatures on the planet. Teenagers are worse than toddlers, actually, because their brains work exactly the same, but teenagers have cars.

Why am I focusing on eighteen-year-olds? Because they shouldn’t be in charge of anything. Whomever decided that eighteen was the age to become an adult probably just couldn’t stand having the kid living in their house any longer and wanted to be legally allowed to evict them.

Since twelve-year-olds are younger than eighteen-year-olds, do you know who else shouldn’t be in charge of anything? Twelve-year-olds, that’s who. Makes sense, right? Well, not to the government, I guess. Those braniacs just put my twelve-year-old son in charge of his own health care decisions.

I was not expecting that to happen, because I am a rational adult human, so it never even occurred to me that something as asinine as that would even be possible until I tried to log into our health insurance website the other day. Son Number One was missing from my list of family members on the plan.

I just figured it was a website maintenance issue, since we had just gotten home from his doctor’s visit. After further investigation I found out that HIPAA decided that twelve was the perfect age for health care independence.

HIPAA apparently stands for HighAndMighty Idiots Parenting AllOurKidsForUs Anonymously. Who comes up with these crazy acronyms, anyway? The folks over at the government health care office have made it illegal for me to have unfettered access to my own child’s medical records.

Hmm... Well, that seems really dumb. I know my sons’ doctor had nothing to do with this, because he is a doctor, so he has an actual, working brain. Unfortunately, it’s his office that gets to deal with the aftermath of this HIPAA stupidity.

My twelve-year-old is now in charge of his own health care decisions. OK, fine. One health care decision is whether or not to pay for your health care. I’ll let you give him a call about billing for that office visit. He doesn’t have a phone, or a credit card, or any money at all, or a clue, so good luck. When you do get a hold of him somehow and ask him for money, he’s going to talk to you about Star Wars, so be ready for that conversation to not go your way. If you try to call me to get payment, I’m afraid I’ll be forced to refer you to the rigid HIPAA guidelines. Sorry.

At our recent office visit, he got the first of his HPV shots. It’s a two shot process, and he needs the next one in a year. Good luck with scheduling that. Like I said, he doesn’t have a phone, but he does have a gmail account for school, so I guess you could try sending him an email. But be warned, if you include the word ‘papilllomavirus’ you’re going to lose him. He’ll just assume it’s a language he doesn’t know and then he’ll go play kickball.

You could keep it simple and say ‘come to the doctor,’ but he has no idea where your office is. Seriously, it could be a block from our house and he still wouldn’t know. He knows where Blaze Pizza and Cold Stone Creamery are, though. Maybe you could meet him at one of those places. I’m afraid I won’t be able to drive him over to your office, because I don’t want to risk being seen as coercing him into anything under the HIPAA guidelines. Your best bet would be to actually send someone over to the middle school with the syringe and corner him at lunch.

Since I’ll need to let him schedule his next appointment, if you guys aren’t willing to track him down, you should see him back at the doctor’s office when he’s about thirty-eight years old. He probably won’t be going to a pediatrician any more by then, so you may have seen the last of him thanks to HIPAA.

Also, I’m just perusing the six-page health care instructional handout you mistakenly handed me during the office visit. I left it for him to read, but it ended up wadded up with his gum stuck to it. I guess he wasn’t all that interested in reading up on his most pressing twelve-year-old health care issues. Perhaps that’s because he’s twelve. Tough to say.

Anyway, most of the immunizations and testing page was illegible due to the Juicy Fruit, but I did notice there were sections on nutrition, screen time, and sleep. Now that my twelve-year-old is in charge of all this stuff, and since he apparently has no interest in reading your helpful tips, you might want to come over and talk to him. He’ll be the one in a twelve-year-old boy-shaped divot on the couch, catatonic in front of the TV, surviving on root beer and pita chip crumbs from the cushions.

Maybe we could get the school nurse to give him some advice. That is, if he decides to go to school at all. Am I allowed to insist that he goes to school anymore, now that he’s all grown up? I guess I should check the governmental regulations on that.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 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!