Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Be Best Life! - Repost

I remember it like it was yesterday – that wonderful Christmas in 2016 when I received the best Christmas gift of all time. Unfortunately, the last two Christmases were – and I fear, all future ones will be – marked by the sad reality that no gift will ever compare to the joy I received that day from Son of Wang. At least my family and I will always have his words of wisdom, and I want to share them again with you.

So, I urge you, dear reader – no matter howvexed your nonutility be, if your food has become depraved or you need to have protection against the tide, have no fear. The Supersealer will not help in any way, but the box will make you laugh until it hurts.

 “The simplicity is comfortable.”


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:

Be best life!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The 2018 Do-it-Yourself Christmas Letter

What is the matter with you? You’ve done it again, haven’t you? It’s December 19th and you haven’t written your annual Christmas letter yet. And now there’s no time left to concoct a fairy tale that might be able to put some lipstick on the pig that was your year.

Sure, just like your hopes for the future, things look bleak. But have no Christmas fear! While I can’t do anything about your annoying in-laws or your Aunt Ethel’s impending fruitcake delivery, I can certainly help in the communications department.

The 2018 DIY Christmas letter is here, just for you.

So, pour yourself another glass of mommy or daddy’s special holiday cheer, bubble in the appropriate choices with a #2 pencil, fill in the blank if needed, and you’re all set.

No need to thank me. It’s just what I do.

Christmas 2018

O   relative or loved one,
O   tolerable neighbor,
O   marginal acquaintance,
O   begrudging work or social obligatory holiday recipient,

Merry Christmas from the
O   Smith
O   Gonzalez
O   Lee
O   Johnson
O   Other _______________


We can’t believe
O   how time flies.
O   winter is here again so soon.
O   how depressing this year has been.
O   we have to send this damned letter to so many of you.

What a year! We
O   are so blessed.
O   are, we must admit, a little tired.
O   are relieved it’s finally over.
O   seriously need to just sell the kids and move to an island.

2018 started with
O   joy in our hearts
O   a ridiculous amount of snow and ice
O   anxiety
O   a whole lotta mood-altering substances

and is ending with
O   gratitude and peace.
O   even more *%@#&$ snow.
O   dread.
O   jail time, most likely.

Dad can’t seem to
O   sit still,
O   stop complaining,
O   snap out of his funk,
O   put a cork in it,

and he
O   continues to volunteer at the church and the shelter.
O   won’t shut up about gas prices.
O   lives in his pajamas.
O   was on a bender and MIA at least half the year.

Mom hasn’t
O   lost a step
O   lifted a finger around the house
O   shut up
O   been seen

since her
O   record-breaking hip replacement recovery time.
O   epic hangnail incident.
O   lottery numbers were “only three away” from the “big money.”
O   parole officer reported her for not checking in this summer.

Sister lives
O   near us now.
O   day to day.
O   on borrowed time.
O   above a strip club.

O   moved back with her family for a big promotion.
O   pretends to be holding it together, but a relapse is obviously coming.
O   is the president of her biker gang, and the DEA has been investigating their activities.
O   was named employee of the month at Big Tony’s Gentlemen’s Club and Laundromat.

Brother is
O   switching parenting roles with his wife and staying home with the kids
O   never too far from the couch
O   making one bad decision after another
O   spiraling out of control

while his
O   wife continues to climb the ladder at her amazing job.
O   unemployment checks continue to roll in.
O   bookie keeps contacting us regarding his whereabouts.
O   childhood hopes and dreams slowly circle the giant toilet bowl of life.

The grandkids just keep growing
O   up
O   outward
O   bolder
O   weed

and we wish
O   we could slow time down somehow to enjoy it all a little longer.
O   they would lay off the McCrap and eat a vegetable every once in a while.
O   their parents would actually call their insolent little butts on it.
O   the court system would be tougher on minors.

We hope this letter finds you
O   thriving and loving life
O   before Christmas
O   relatively sober

this year, and we want to
O   extend our warmest holiday wishes to you and yours.
O   let you know we are still alive, despite what you might have heard.
O   make sure we keep in touch, so we have a “what not to do” example for the kids.
O   be done writing now.

If you ever find yourself in town,
O   please come by, we’d love to see you!
O   don’t hesitate to let us know you were here.
O   just remember, we’re away a lot.
O   I’ll bet you’ll be wondering how you got here, you lush!

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 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 12, 2018

Death by Cabover

Because I used to be a power forward for the Portland Trailblazers, I am still a pretty big deal in the NBA community, and as such, I was given an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center last night. One of the neat features of the arena is a series of air vents located under the seats, spaced every so often in each section. You can text the arena during a game and ask them to heat up or cool down your section as needed.

We had a chuckle when someone asked if they could look at the data of the text requests and graph them by gender. Everyone on the tour, both male and female, agreed that it would probably be roughly 99.95% women requesting a temperature change.

It brought to mind one of my very first columns ever, titled “Hot Chicks and Cool Dudes,” where I explored my Universal Truth that men are comfy in a thirty-degree temperature range, which is the same for all men, and women are only comfortable in a three-degree range that is different for each woman, and can vary wildly throughout the day.

That got me thinking about one of my other Universal Truths – Times You Almost Died. Us men are far, far dumber creatures than women, and that Universal Truth shines brightly when you ask someone to tell you about a time they almost died. Most women will be hard-pressed to come up with one or two stories, but every guy in the world will have ten stories right off the top of his head, and two of them happened last week.

And THAT got me thinking about one of my stories: The Old Ford Cabover Incident.

In college I worked for a landscape products company called JJ’s. It was owned by Jack and Joanne Lord, but it was named JJ’s prior to them buying it. No kidding. Anyhow, they were fantastic folks, and over the course of my first year working there, I trained to become a delivery driver and got my Class B driver’s license so I could drive the big dump trucks. We had two main deliver trucks – a newer International truck and an old Ford cabover.

A “cabover” truck gets its name from having the entire cab of the truck sit directly over the top of the engine, instead of having the engine out in front like we’re used to. The mark of the cabover design is the fact that the driver’s windshield is basically the very front of the whole truck. When you want to access the engine to do any maintenance, you unlock the cab release and the entire cab – seats, steering wheel, dashboard, pedals - everything – tilts forward on a big hinge located just behind the front bumper, exposing the engine underneath. Needless to say, you don’t leave your coffee sitting on the dashboard when you need to tilt the cab, unless you really like cleaning coffee off the inside of the windshield. Anything loose in the cab – maps, empty soda cans, sunflower seeds, etc. – ends up on the windshield when you tilt the cab up to get to the engine. (Note to millennials – “maps” are what we used to get ourselves lost before Waze was invented.)

One fine, sunny day I loaded up the old Ford cabover with six tons of decorative river rock, and headed out to make the delivery. JJ’s was set back off a two-lane highway on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo, and a long sloping gravel driveway went down one side of the property and teed into the highway. I bounced down the driveway in the old Ford, whistling a happy tune, and pressed on the brakes at the start of the downhill run about twenty or thirty yards prior to reaching the highway tee.

Seat belts are an amazing invention, and I highly recommend to all my young male readers that you always wear yours, even when inside your own home. My seatbelt was the only thing that prevented me from crashing headfirst through the windshield of that old truck and being ground to a messy pulp on the gravel driveway that day, as I realized halfway through my exciting semi-circular ride around the hinge axis that some idiot had forgotten to lock the cab latch.

My seatbelt kept me attached to the driver’s seat, but try to imagine everything in the cab of your truck staying in the same place relative to you, but having the entire cab lift up and try to do a front somersault. While you’re driving.

Braking down the hill caused the entire truck cab to flip to its full-open position, so if a truck mechanic happened to be running alongside, he would have had excellent access to the engine. As the driver, I was left hanging upside-down from my lap belt, chest being compressed into the steering wheel, with my face inches from the windshield, watching the gravel driveway race by less than six inches away from the glass. It was exciting.

My feet were now behind me and above my head, and even though the pedals were still there, I really didn’t have a good way to press them anymore. As my truck picked up speed downhill toward the busy highway, I hung upside-down watching the road go by my face and wondering just what to do about this little predicament, and also wondering if I was the idiot who forgot to lock the cab latch.

I might also have been screaming.

Prior to making it all the way into oncoming traffic, enough blood was forced into my brain due to gravity to kick-start an idea. The air brake button was located in the center of the dashboard, which, in my current cab configuration, meant it was off to the right, out away and slightly below my right ear.

I found it and pulled it out as fast as I could. By the grace of God and the Ford engineers of the 1960s, the air brakes can still be controlled from the dashboard, even if the dashboard isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

With the high-pitched squeal of beautiful, life-saving compressed air, all the tires instantly stopped rolling and started sliding on the gravel road. I was probably only going fifteen or twenty miles an hour at that point, and my seatbelt held fast, but the weight of the big truck combined with the twelve thousand pounds of rock in the back trying to come to an abrupt halt managed to stretch my torso and elongate my spine enough that my face was able to be completely pressed against the windshield as the old Ford C-Series beast slid to a stop. I was two inches taller when I finally got my heart restarted and rolled my way off the door and back onto solid ground.

Men die from heart attacks far more often than women, but I don’t think that’s because our hearts are weaker, or even because of all the extra bacon. I think we simply do quite a bit of preliminary damage to them over our lifetimes with all the minor heart attacks along the way.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 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 5, 2018

Florida Offshore Phishing

Not many people take full advantage of the fun side of internet phishing scams, and I must say, they are missing out on some truly satisfying entertainment.

Back when Al Gore had just invented the internet, the first professional phishermen were the Nigerians. They were pioneers in the art of internet skullduggery, so much so that their name is forever associated with the “deposed king of (insert African country name here), let me share my millions with you, just give me your banking information” email scam.

Many, many years ago I worked for a company that – and millennials, you will not believe this, but I swear it’s the truth – had one email address for the whole company. As the junior engineer, I was the most tech-savvy (meaning I knew how to spell “tech”), so I was in charge of the account. Every morning I would fire up the modem (a device that served mainly to make your internet connection slower than you ever thought imaginable) and log in to our account, print out the emails (on paper!), and disperse them to my coworkers. This was back in 1826.

One morning, much to my delight, we received an email from the son of the (recently murdered in a coup) Crown Prince of Nigeria. He was anxious to wire me ten million dollars because he would be tragically killed just like his dad if he was caught with the money. I would hold onto the cash while he snuck out of his war-ravaged kingdom, then we’d meet here in the U.S., split the windfall, and then, presumably, party like rock stars and become BFF’s.

There was just one catch. He had no access to any money, so it was up to me to front him a little dough to, as he so eloquently put it, “greeze the palms” of the local banking officials.

I then spent two weeks looking forward to each morning when I would respond to his emails pretending to be a doddering old fool who was super-excited about the opportunity but not really sure how to carry out all his complicated banking instructions.

At some point, right around the time I was asking if I could come to Nigeria to help with the greezing, and asking him if I could stay at his house while I was there since I didn’t know if any of the hotels were up to my standards, I was passed off to the Nigeria Scamming Department Manager. Sadly, as with most American middle managers, he had less finesse than the low-level scam starter guy that had initiated contact, and over the next few days the manager guy became increasingly less patient with me.

He finally ended our budding financial relationship in an all-caps email demanding to know what the hell was wrong with me and why I couldn’t follow simple instructions. (Perhaps because I never could quite figure out what he meant by my “bank account number,” and gave him several different options, including the bank’s phone number, their address number on the outside of the building, and also the exact number of accounts the bank had, after I called the bank manager to inquire.)

I could almost see him banging away on the keyboard in a spitting rage. It was one of the most delightfully entertaining two weeks of my life.

I had a few fleeting moments of that same joy yesterday and today, when I was contacted via phone - from a number in Florida - by the “Google Gmail Security Team.” A nice gentleman named Dave, with a heavy Indian accent, explained that my Gmail account had apparently been hijacked by spammers, and it would be shut down and locked within twenty-four hours if we didn’t fix it right away.

Oh, my! What a predicament we have found ourselves in! Especially since Google doesn’t call people. Whatever shall we do?

I kept him on the phone as long as I could, but I was driving, so I couldn’t take the necessary steps at my computer terminal to secure my account from the insidious hackers. It turned out he was located in Wilmington, Delaware, and not Florida, and he seemed to think the weather in Wilmington was “pretty mild,” that early December day. I guess Dave doesn’t really understand where Delaware is located.

Sadly, I had an appointment to get to, so I had to ask Dave for a callback number. He gave me an 800 number that, upon later Googling, could either have been associated with an opportunity to buy an apartment in Delhi, or a web design and internet marketing firm in Pasadena. Hmm…

I thought my fun was over, but in a wonderful turn of events, Dave called back this morning. Great news, Dave! I’m home and can get to my computer terminal. Let’s fix this vexing issue!

All I had to do was log out of my Gmail, get to my home screen, hit the Windows key and the letter R simultaneously to bring up the run command prompt, and simply type in “iexplore”. Once I did that, we could get this problem solved. He had to get off the line briefly to get the last string of digits. I guess they don’t always get that far, and he needed to ask his manager what the code was today.

I told Dave that I typed it all in just like he said, and I could almost hear him salivating in “Delaware.” He asked what I was seeing, hoping that I was looking at their screen cloning site located at the 216 IP address. I told him my screen had gone blank.

Dave, ever the Gmail security professional, had to come up with a series of blank screen troubleshooting tips while I quizzed him on why the Google logo was all gray today instead of colored, and how the Wilmington weather was this morning, and if he was calling me on his old Florida cell phone, or if their office had been blown down the coast in the last hurricane, and if he’d ever been out to Topeka, Kansas where the main Google campus is located, and if so, while he was there, had he tried the world-famous “Google Burger,” which I had been told was a tofu burger stamped in the letter G, with red ketchup, yellow mustard, blue lettuce, and green tomatoes, on a gluten-free ciabatta roll.

After powering down my device didn’t work, an increasingly frustrated Dave finally accused me of wasting my own time. I assured him that this was not at all a waste of my time, but he apparently had better things to do with his day, so he wished me - what I’m pretty sure was sarcastic - good luck with my soon-to-be frozen Gmail account.

I thought for sure my fun was over, but lo and behold, ten minutes later, Steve from Gmail Support called me from the exact same number.


I asked how Dave was doing, but it turned out that Steve was really in Florida, and didn’t know Dave, or anything about a recent call. I told Steve he needed to contact the folks at Guinness after our call, because he just set a land speed record, but he had no idea what I was talking about.

It seems Steve was calling because Google noticed that my Gmail account had apparently been hijacked by spammers, and it would be shut down and locked within twenty-four hours if we didn’t fix it right away.

Oh, my! What a conundrum, Steve!

I asked if I should get to my run command and type in “iexplore”, but Steve hung up on me before I could finish reading the number string.

I am currently sitting at my desk praying that I get a call from Mike who works at Gmail Google Security Support in the greater Florida-Delaware region.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2018 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!