Wednesday, May 25, 2016

44 at 44

I turned 44 years old yesterday, which sometimes seems impossible to me, since my brain tells me I was in my 20s only a few short years ago. But then I wake up some mornings more sore than when I went to bed and realize, yep, I’m old. The fact that I buy my Advil by the 50-pound sack is another clue.

This year, in honor of making another successful trip around the sun, I have added to my list of thoughts, observations, and acquired wisdom (arguably). Here it is, one for each year. You’re welcome.

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

2.  If beds were advertised the same way as tents, a queen-size mattress would sleep nine adults comfortably.

3.  The three-second rule has almost infinite extensions depending on how much you like the food that dropped.

4.  You never fully appreciate how crazy your family is until you have to explain all of them to your new wife.

5.  I don’t understand why disappointed is not the opposite of appointed.

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

7.  Here’s the main difference between men and women: Men can look at a picture of women's underwear and get excited. Not women in underwear, just the underwear itself. Women do not get excited looking at pictures of boxer shorts.

8.  The toothpaste tube is the most amazing invention ever. You get four days of toothpaste out of the large main body of the tube, and six weeks of toothpaste out of the last 10% of the tube, up by the cap. If we could make automobile gas tanks out of the same stuff that the last 10% of the toothpaste tube is made of, cars would get 700 miles per gallon.

9.  The clearest evidence that America is the greatest country on earth is that the Red Bull beverage company put a man in space. Take that, Belgium.

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

11.  I am over the electronic tipping point. At this point, I would much rather lose my wallet than my phone.

12.  A really good financial goal in life is to have your bank account balance be larger than your bank account number.

13.  Life without beer, wine, and cheese would be horrible, but life without bacon would simply be pointless.

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

15.  Never get a woman personalized license plates like "HOT QT" or something like that, because eventually you, the boyfriend or husband, will have to drive the car and you will be mercilessly ridiculed by the rest of us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

22.  Pets and skull tattoos have something in common - Just because yours is badass does not mean you are badass. In fact, it usually means the exact opposite.

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

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

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

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

27.  The hotel alarm clock - You can either take the time to figure out how it works before you go to bed, or you can figure it out in the dark at 4:30 A.M. when it unexpectedly goes off. Your choice.

28.  Probably the funniest thing ever written is this: “We’ve upped our contribution. Up yours!”

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

30.  There are 21 words in the English language that need to be used more. They are: Bailiwick, Hootenanny, Skullduggery, Scofflaw, Ballyhoo, Shenanigans, Donnybrook, Catawampus, Chicanery, Cajoled, Hullabaloo, Besmirch, Boondoggle, Haberdashery, Melee, Befuddled, Flummoxed, Hoosegow, Wiseacre, Tomfoolery, and Kerfuffle.

31.  Nothing is more interesting to a child than what you are doing, provided that what you are doing is easier without children involved.

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

33.  Fried chicken and touch screen devices do not mix well.

34.  A carsick child and a blender without a lid have a lot in common.

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

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

37.  "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys" is a pretty accurate saying, but it leaves out the other major difference: the speed at which they heal when they fall off those toys.

38.  New parents - The best thing to do when your infant cries at night is to set a timer for ten minutes. If the timer runs out before the baby stops crying, reset the timer.

39.  The people investigating alternative energy sources should take a look at my wife's side of the bed. When she comes to bed she is in a near-frozen state, but the bed somehow heats her up to roughly 8,000 degrees in the middle of the night. I have never once plugged the bed in or recharged it in any way.

40.  As I get older, I find myself dividing the world into two categories: People I would let watch my kids for five minutes, and people I wouldn’t.

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

42.  If you want a good example of unbridled optimism, look at your smoke alarm. They all have "test weekly" printed on them. Yes, smoke alarm company, I’ll get right on that.

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

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

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, May 18, 2016

Nursing School

My kids only have two more weeks of school left and I am not happy about it. Actually, they only have one more real week of school since the “last day” is the Thursday after the Memorial Day holiday. With no school on Monday, and an all-school field day on Tuesday, Wednesday will be filled with movies and games, and the last day is a half day, so it doesn’t even count.

Although, the one “real week” we have left isn’t really much of a week. The Friday before the Memorial Day weekend is a total write-off, and we have a couple minimum days in there too. Basically we’re in the elementary school equivalent of the last two weeks of your job before your official retirement date. You still show up to the office, but nothing productive is going to happen.

I’m not concerned with the lack of education that will occur in the next two weeks. I’m concerned, as always, about them being home all the time. School is very helpful to me. When they’re in school I can get things done. When they’re home they always want stuff.

“Dad, can we go to the park?”
“Dad, can we go to the pool?”
“Dad, can we play inside since it’s 105 degrees out?”
“Dad, can you feed us food?”
“Dad, can you come out of your office?”
“Dad, where are you?”

That’s going to get even more annoying if they ever find my hiding spot. I wish they would bug their mom for stuff but she’s a high school teacher, so during the summer months she automatically gets the better hiding spot.

Besides being in charge of them for the entire day, the main thing I’m concerned with as the school year draws to a close is the lack of medical notes I’ll get over the summer. Elementary schools are very good at notifying you of the dangers posed to your children by everyday life. I have a stack of “information letters” here on my desk just from the last few weeks.

How am I supposed to know if my children were exposed to hand-foot-and-mouth disease over the summer if I never receive a warning letter? Or conjunctivitis? Or fifth disease, whatever the hell that is.

“Son Number One has a cough.”
“How are we supposed to know what it might be? It’s July! We have no letters!”

And head lice. Don’t even get me started on head lice. Although, we tend to shear our boys like sheep over the summer, so that one shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s the absence of the head injury form that I’m most worried about. Son Number Three’s head comes into contact with hard objects, including other heads, so often that the school nurse has me on speed dial. She called the other day and didn’t even tell me who it was. She just said, “I’ll give you one guess why I’m calling.”

As she was handing him yet another concussion form to take home, he asked her, amazed, “How many of these forms do you have?”

The problem is he’s a little squirrelly when it comes to giving us information. (Possibly because he’s eight years old, possibly because of all the head injuries, probably a little of both.) I’m just not confident that over the summer I’m going to hear about every collision involving his head and a solid object. I can easily see a scenario where he’ll be playing down the street, collide with a parked car or a tree, knock himself completely out, wake up, cry for a while, see a butterfly, forget he’s hurt, chase the butterfly for two minutes, then tell me about it a week later.

I guess I’ll just have to hang on to one of these head injury notification letters for the summer and go through the concussion symptom awareness protocols every night just to be safe.

On the plus side, the short hair helps with more than just head lice. It makes it pretty easy to spot the goose eggs, too.

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, May 11, 2016

Let's Make America Awesomer

We have no good options left, America. This election is looking like a choice between Holy Crap! and Are You Kidding Me? That’s why during the recent Cinco de Mayo tequila tasting at my house, a new partnership was formed to give you, the concerned voters of America, a more palatable option. Derek Miller (my neighbor) and I will be running mates for president. I lost the Ro-Sham-Bo for the vice president slot, so I’m the presidential candidate.

Now, I know many of you might be saying to yourself, “But I don’t know Derek Miller.” That’s a fair concern, so let me tell you a little about him. He’s tall and handsome with no hideous facial scarring, he has an actual job and a lovely family, he has some really good tequila at his house, and he’s not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

I’m sure many of you are also saying, “Can Smidge really be president? Is he qualified? All I’ve ever seen him actually do is be sarcastic. What is his IQ?” Those are also fair concerns, so let me put your mind at ease. Technically and legally I can be president, and after the presidents I’ve seen in my lifetime I’m starting to think I might be overqualified. I think the office needs a lot more sarcasm, and as for my IQ... that’s none of your business. Sure, I have no idea where Kazakhstan is, but does anyone? And does it really matter? Of course not.

And I’m also not Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

I think I’ve made the case for Schmatjen/Miller 2016.

At this point, I’m not sure we can actually get on the ballot, chiefly because neither of us have looked into it at all, so please just write us in.

And we only have $2.58 in our campaign fund, which was the amount of money we got from recycling the Cinco de Mayo beer bottles, so donations would be greatly appreciated.

Even after all the good reasons I’ve already given you for voting for us, if you’re still on the fence, here’s a list of our major platforms. (This is only a partial list since we’re still trying to remember everything we came up with that night. Seis de Mayo was a little foggy.)

First and foremost, free beer for every person in the U.S.A. That’s a no-brainer. We did the math, and with 323 million people in the country getting a fourteen dollar twelve-pack of beer each month, it only costs us $54.3 billion. Done! We can handle that just by eliminating the State Department.

And keep in mind, in case you think we’re being stingy, you get a twelve-pack for every person in your family. If you are married with three kids, and grandma lives with you, that’s six cases of beer headed your way each month, like a huge, frosty-cold paycheck. And if you’re like me and have Mormon or Muslim friends and neighbors - score! They usually have a ton of kids, and you can probably have their beer, too.

Speaking of eliminating the State Department, we’re going to be doing a lot of that as well. The short list of redundant federal departments doing things that are already being handled by the states will get $336 billion back in our pockets. Goodbye Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, and Transportation. It was nice knowing you.

You nice folks can have that money back in the form of a $1000 check for every single person in your family. Spend it however you want, America.

In the interest of inclusion, all this applies to the nice folks in our outlying territories as well. It’s about time they got full citizenship, voting rights, and free beer. And it’s about time we got five new states. Welcome to statehood, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. Glad to have you aboard.

Subsequently, we’ll be launching an exploratory committee to figure out how best to fit five more stars on the flag, and also to determine where exactly those five new states are. The committee will also look into whether Costa Rica is the same thing as Puerto Rico. There has been some question.

Back in D.C., we’ll be firing everyone we have the power to fire. Then we’ll hire lawyers to figure out a way to fire the people who say we don’t have the power to fire the other people. Then we’ll fire all the lawyers.

We’re going to pay ourselves $10 million a year for the eight years we’ll obviously be in office, but don’t worry. That’s only a couple of drips from the faucet in Washington, and it will reassure you that we’re not for sale to special interest groups. We’ll still take tons of money from special interest groups, but we’ll turn around and give it all to you! As a thank-you, you guys can vote to repeal term limits for us. That’s a win-win.

And lastly, we’ll immediately instate Cinco de Mayo as an official national holiday, on par with the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. To reduce any potential hurt feelings or appearance of North American favoritism, we’ll also adopt a lesser Canadian holiday to be named later.

Also, recognizing the brilliance of the New Year’s Day holiday immediately following the New Year’s Eve celebration, all national holidays will now have a minimum of two days off work and school. Welcome, Fifth of July and Seis de Mayo. You’ve always been there, but now you’re official.

Thanks for your support, and tell your friends.

“In 2016, write in Schmatjen/Miller. Free beer and money is totally killer.”

I’ll get back to you if we come up with a better slogan, or if we can remember any more of our great ideas on how to make America awesomer.

Vote early and often!

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, May 4, 2016

Multitasking Moms

I am getting stupider. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t all that smart to begin with, but over the last few years I have actually felt myself dumbing down tremendously. I can pinpoint the exact moment it started happening, too: My first day as the stay-at-home dad.

Back when I was an engineer and had an office job, I was actually pretty good at getting things done. I would knock out tasks left and right and check off the to-do list every day. Now that I’m in charge of the house, I can’t find my socks. Seriously, I have like two pairs left and they don’t match.

I have always blamed multitasking on my recent inability to do anything well. I’ve told my wife for years that my brain does not have the ability to do two things at once. I can do one thing adequately or two things very poorly. Those are my choices.

Well, now it turns out that my inability to multitask has been validated. Hooray! Dr. Labcoat and his research team at the University of Stanford-or-Somewhere recently published a groundbreaking study that proves, among many other things, that funding is somehow still available for college brain studies. Also that no one’s brain has the ability to do two things at once. The study found that people who thought they were good at multitasking actually multitasked worse than people who normally tend to focus on one task at a time.

They also found that multitasking during cognitive tests actually reduced performance on those tests as much as smoking marijuana. I think that part of the study was done in Colorado. When the Stanford researchers contacted them for follow-up data, the Colorado team replied, “Huh?”

Add all that to the fact that they believe more studies will prove that multitasking actually causes brain damage, and... hang on, I have to go change the laundry.

This news is huge! I finally have some concrete scientific proof to point to when my wife questions my inability to function. It’s not me, honey, it’s the kids. There’s three of them and they all want stuff at the same time. They’re to blame, not me. It’s science.

As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s a typical conversation between me and my wife when she gets home from a long day at work:

Her: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Sorry, Son Number Three’s shoelace broke this afternoon, so I haven’t gotten around to planning dinner yet.”
Her: “Uh... it’s 6:45.”
Me: “Have you seen my socks?”

See what I mean?

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and as we celebrate all those stay-at-home moms, all those working moms, and all those single moms who do everything all at once, let’s remember this multitasking study. The fact that they can get anything done at all is a sheer miracle. The amount that they do accomplish for their families is a testament to how awesome they really are.

They could probably find a cure for cancer if we just left them alone for a few hours.

So to all you moms out there - Happy Mother’s Day! Take the day off and go smoke some dope or drink a couple bottles of wine. It will actually be better for your brain than dealing with the kids. You can find a cure for cancer some other day.

You know, come to think of it, those two pairs of socks I still have might match if I just swapped their partners...

See, this is what I’m talking about. What’s for dinner?

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!