Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Ask Smidge - January, 2019

Since so many of our readers have not been asking for it, it’s finally time for another edition of Ask Smidge, the advice column that doesn’t limit you on a topic. We can give you marginal advice on any subject!

As always, you are encouraged to send your questions to our new email address –

Now let’s get to America’s burning questions!

Social media seems to be getting more and more divisive and derisive by the minute, completely divorced from civility and decorum. What ever happened to a respectful discourse?
Appalled in Albany

Dear Appalled,
nice big words mr dictionary   y don’t u just go back to ur loser book club cocktail party and shut up   how many followers do u even have on instagram   like 2?   lol

I can’t seem to find my glasses. Please help.
Spec-less in Seattle

Dear Spec-less,
Since you did not include your age, here is a chart to choose from:
If you are… then your glasses are…
5-15 years old… on the ground where you threw them, currently under someone’s shoe
16-39 years old… I have no idea. Probably in your car.
40-55 years old… everywhere. Just go into another room and get a pair from any flat surface.
55-75 years old… on your head.
75+ years old… on your face.

We are thinking about putting in a pool, but it seems like a lot of money for something that will basically be a giant backyard water feature in the winter. On the other hand, it would be amazing in the summer. What do you suggest?
Deep Decisions in Dallas

Dear Decisions,
I have a much better third option for you! Here’s what you do:
Go next door to your neighbors’ house and write them a $10,000 check to install a gate in your shared fence with unlimited access to their pool. Then, buy yourself a $40,000 four-wheel-drive camouflage golf cart with a Yeti cooler, GPS navigation, and a built-in barbecue. You’re still money ahead, and you’ll never have to pay a pool guy to flirt with your wife.

We’re thinking about getting a Ring video doorbell, but they sure are expensive. Are they worth it?
Still Knocking in Knoxville

Dear Knocking,
We got a Ring for Christmas this year, and I would highly recommend it. If you’re like me, you probably don’t look at your phone nearly enough during the day. The Ring solves that problem instantly. I am now alerted, via a vibration and a fun tinkling charm sound, about motion on or near my porch at least seventeen thousand times a day. It’s great! I’m just like a teenager now, never taking my eyes off my phone. Downside: I walk into things a lot now. Upside: I have video of every single car, bike, pedestrian, and cat that has ever gone down my street!

It’s tax time again, and I heard there have been a lot of changes in the tax laws. What’s new, and how will it affect me?
Overtaxed in Oshkosh

Dear Overtaxed,
It’s true, there have been a lot of changes this year, most notably the elimination of the personal and dependent exemptions. The standard deduction amount, however, went way up. Many new limits were placed on itemized deductions, but at the same time, the child tax credit has doubled. Here’s what it means for you: At this point, your best option is to be filing as a married person with a lot of children. If you aren’t currently married and/or don’t have kids, don’t panic. Just hook up with another single taxpayer prior to filing, and file together as if you’re “married.” The IRS, being a branch of the military, has to adhere to the strict “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. And the only restriction on the child tax credit is that the child be under seventeen years old. They don’t specifically mention anything about whether the child “lives at your house,” or even anything about them being “human.” Last time I checked, your pets are probably under seventeen. My wives and I have already filed, and the tax credit for our twenty-three children really helped to offset any losses in exemptions or deductions. Happy filing!

Is romaine lettuce safe to eat again?
Over Kale in Kalispell

Dear Kale,
Lettuce of any kind is never safe to eat. It traps E. Coli like a dolphin in a tuna net. It can be very bad for you, but get this: it’s even worse for the environment. How can a plant hurt the planet, you ask, alliteratively? Well, a recent article in Scientific American is headlined “Lettuce Produces More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Bacon Does”. That was all I needed to hear. (Literally – I didn’t actually read the article itself. Why would you?) So, put down the salad tongs and pick up a pound of delicious, bacteria-free bacon. And next time you’re out at your favorite lunch spot, forget the BLT. The BBB is the only way to go. The earth thanks you.

Thanks again, folks, for sending in your questions. Don’t forget to keep them coming to

And remember, all advice columns are free, but Ask Smidge is the only one where you truly get what you pay for! You’re welcome, America!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, January 23, 2019

Live Like Number Three

Do you want to know how to live your life?

Do you want to know how to be happy?

That depends, you say. Does the answer involve Richard Simmons workout videos?

Of course not. All you have to do is be like Son Number Three.

He’s ten now, but back when he was five years old, he got himself a new hat. It was not an expensive hat, but he loved it. The morning he got it, he immediately asked if he could wear it to kindergarten that day.

“Are you sure you want to wear it to school?” I asked.

“Yes!” was his emphatic reply. “I love it!”

So, off we went down the path to school. When we reached campus, his two older brothers quickly scattered into the crowds on the blacktop, and I walked Number Three, hand-in-hand, over to the separate kindergarten playground.

Kids and teachers were stopping and smiling as we walked through the hallways, and Number Three was just beaming away.

On the way across campus, two teachers commented, “Wow! Nice hat.”

As we reached the kindergarten playground, my five-year-old son looked up at me, with his radiant smile, and said, “Two people already noticed my new hat.”

“Yep,” I said, as I squatted down and kissed him on the cheek. “They sure did. Have a great day at school, buddy. I love you.”

He yelled, “I love you too, Dad,” over his shoulder, as he sprinted across the blacktop toward the play structure, the picture of joyful, innocent happiness.

“Of course they noticed your hat, Son,” I said quietly to myself. “You’re wearing a lime green and purple cardboard Gogurt box on your head.”

Did Son Number Three care that he looked like a miniature Abe Lincoln mental patient? Of course not. He thought it was cool, so he rocked it.

That’s it, folks. That’s the key to happiness. It’s just that simple.

Stop worrying about what other people might think of your great ideas. Stop concerning yourself with anyone else’s definition of cool.

Rock your own style.

Simply be yourself.

Now, slap that empty Rice Krispies box on your head and go enjoy your day!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, January 16, 2019

Say What?

There have been a lot of times in advertising and communications when I thought it might have been better to have a professional in charge. Or maybe even a third-grader.

These are a few of those times:

I heard a radio ad looking for volunteers for a weight loss study to test a “revolutionary new pill.” They said, To participate in this study, you must lose at least ten pounds.
Hmm… Not going to be much of a "study," I guess.

Lipitor commercial: Claims about Lipitor are backed up by over 450 ongoing or completed studies.
Umm… How can you back up a claim with an ongoing study?

I was exiting a Chevron bathroom with the door offering the new "touch-free handle." The picture showed someone putting their arm through it and opening it with their shirt sleeve.
That’s great news for all you germaphobes out there, but I have a question. Can we really still call this giant thing a “handle?”

Saw a sign on freeway runaway truck ramp – the ramp designed to stop an out-of-control big rig. The sign said, "No stopping anytime."
Uh, doesn't that sort of miss the point of the ramp?

I was in the McDonald’s drive thru ordering an Egg McMuffin and the lady on the speaker said, “That's with Canadian bacon, right?” My first thought was, do you guys not know how to make it?

I saw an official US Army bumper sticker in Spanish. It said, Yo soy el army.
Umm... Que? One of my main hopes for the army of my country is that everyone who has a gun understands what the guy in charge is saying.

I saw a license plate bracket that said “VFW Life Member.”
Isn't that kinda automatic?

Heard an ad for a pharmacy that apparently specialized in pet medicine. Does your pet run and hide when it's time to take their medication? We can turn your pet’s medication into a cream that you can rub on their ears.
If I'm giving them their meds by rubbing it on their ears, doesn’t that mean I’m taking their medication, too? That can't be a good idea, can it?

I heard a radio ad for some place called, advertising high-end shotguns. Whether it’s waterfowl, upland game, clay pigeons, turkey defense, or tactical…
The words “turkey” and “defense” were said far too close together, so it sounded like the clientele were constantly needing to defend themselves against attacking turkeys. I am assuming that is not the case, but I can’t be sure where these people live.

On a Folsom Lake Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep ad, in the monster truck radio voice – Giant Inventory! If we don’t have it, it’s not in stock!
Uh… yes. That is exactly what that means.

Heard on a radio ad for, which billed themselves as an offsite phone system service for small businesses to have professional voicemail, etc.
Set it up online at, or call 1-800-ring-one. If our agents are busy, please call again later.

Mac’s Plumbing radio ad - This month’s special… We’ll unclog any drain for $99 or it’s free.
Question 1 - Why would I pay if you can’t unclog it in the first place?
Question 2- Isn’t it normally “the same day or it’s free” or something like that? I don’t understand “$99 or it’s free.” Can I bargain with you? How about, $1 or it’s free? That way we wouldn’t have so much to figure out.

Radio spot for The Mutual Fund Store - Do you change your own oil? Cut your own hair? Do your own teeth cleaning? Of course not. Why would you do your own mutual fund planning…
I don’t think I’m their target audience, because I answered “yes” to all three.

Seen on the wall at our local electrical utility: Accident Prevention Awards.
How are these distributed? I mean, how do you really know that you prevented an accident?

Ad for Mercy Orthopedics  - If you are experiencing joint pain or limited mobility…
I have been experiencing limited mobility my whole life, but I don’t think it has to do with bad joints. I’m just slow.

Saw “INKNPPR” on a personalized license plate, with a license plate bracket that said, “It says, Ink and Paper.”
If you have to explain your personalized license plate with the bracket, I think you did it wrong.

On the local talk radio show, the news guy was teasing an upcoming story. “Prepare to be shocked.”
Can you even do that?

Driving down in the rural California central valley I heard an AM station weatherman refer to himself as “KMJ 580 meteorolist”
I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly the first time, but over the next few hours I heard the meteorologist mispronounce his own profession at least four or five times.

This last one is different, and probably falls under the category of “unintentional marketing,” and I swear every word is true. We were early to Son Number One’s teeth cleaning visit and hadn’t gone into the office yet. Sitting in the car, facing the dental office, we watched one of the hygienists arrive for work. She got out of her car and walked right in the front door carrying an 18-volt DeWalt power drill with a twelve-inch-long drill bit.

Took me fifteen minutes to catch up to my son.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, January 9, 2019

The Elway, the Truth, and the Life

I love sports, I love Jesus, I love crazy stories, and I love college and professional athletes that use their social influence in good ways, so I have no stinkin’ idea how this story eluded me until this week. I guess I was busy in 2012.

This entire thing has been fact-checked by ESPN – the gospel of sports – but you can look into it if you want. And if you don’t believe in God, you can chalk this “crazy coincidence” up to whatever you want.

You be the judge.

Tim Tebow was the quarterback for the University of Florida Gators, and on January 8, 2009 they won the national championship game. All year, he and his teammates had written little messages on their eye black. Tim is a Christian, so he had chosen a bible verse – Philippians 4:13 – which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

He had “Phil” under one eye and “4:13” under the other for the entire season. As they advanced during the year, Phil 4:13 became a big thing on campus. Tim saw that happening, and going into the championship game, he decided to change the verse. He knew it would be news, and he knew millions of people would be watching, so he wanted to choose a bible verse that would be best to spread the word about his faith. He settled on John 3:16.

If you are unfamiliar with it, John 3:16 is basically the essence of Christianity in a sentence. It says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

So, out goes Timmy with “John 3:16” under his eyes, and during the game ninety-four million people Googled “John 3:16.”

That’s pretty cool.

Fast forward to 2012, and Tim is now the Denver Broncos quarterback, and exactly three years to the day, on January 8, 2012, they were facing the Pittsburg Steelers as the wildcard. Tim and the Broncos took the field at home and proceeded to knock the Steelers out of the playoffs in overtime.

Another 90 million people Googled “John 3:16” during the game, and it became the number one trending phrase across most social media platforms for the night.

That’s pretty cool, and also pretty easy to explain.

Now, you might think the Broncos knocking off the Steelers was the only miracle that night, but here’s what else happened in that game:

Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards.

Tebow averaged 31.6 yards per completion.

A pivotal interception by the Broncos came on 3rd and 16.

The Steelers time of possession for the game was 31:06

And CBS’s final quarter-hour ratings for the game – at the time when Tim Tebow threw the game-winning eighty-yard touchdown pass, the longest pass in postseason overtime history – were 31.6.

Those “crazy coincidences” are a little harder to explain.

Like I said, you be the judge.

The Broncos’ 2012 run ended there, and Tebow’s football career is now over, but he’s switched sports and is working his way up in minor league baseball.

I know what you’re thinking – his batting average is probably .316, right?

No, not quite. That would take a miracle!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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, January 2, 2019

About the Author, 2019

Here at Just a Smidge, we continue to gain new readership each year. This past year alone we have documented as many as two new readers. So, for both of you just joining us, welcome! Let’s start the New Year with a little meet and greet, shall we?

Hi. I’m Marc Schmatjen, aka Smidge, and I’m the lone staff writer and head janitor here at Just a Smidge. Based on how much money I make writing this column, it would be inaccurate to call this my job, so let’s just go with “hobby.” It would be fun to be able to contribute to the mortgage payment and the food bill, however, so if you know anyone looking to syndicate a humor column, there’s an imported beer of your choice in it for you in exchange for an introduction.

I am a forty-six-year-old husband of one and father of three. My wife is an amazing woman who teaches high school kids math, which means she was born with an unnaturally high level of patience. This is a good thing, because it makes it possible for her to love me (or at least tolerate me), and it also allows her to do her job. Most days, however, the high school kids eat into her patience reserves a little too much, not leaving enough left over for dealing with me. I sleep on the couch a lot during the school year.

We have three boys, whom we affectionately refer to as Son Number One, Two, and Three. Two of them are teenagers and all three of them are loud and smelly and they eat a lot.

Anyway, enough about my wife and kids. Let’s talk more about me. Here are twenty other things that you should probably know about me:

1) I am a phenomenal driver, an amazing cook, and a first-rate housekeeper.

2) My grandfather killed General Patton's dog. That is the single most historically outstanding thing anyone in my family has done. We are a proud people.

3) Walking out into bright sunlight makes me sneeze. I am one of only an estimated seven people in the world with this disorder. We have a club. I inherited this trait from my grandmother, whose husband once killed General Patton’s dog.

4) I am loosely related to a U.S. president, but I’m not sure which one. I think it's either Grover Cleveland or Woodrow Wilson, but I don't care. I would only be excited if it was Teddy Roosevelt, and it isn't.

5) A few of my literary heroes are Roald Dahl, Erma Bombeck, Michael Connelly, and Dave Barry. My grandfather did not kill any of their dogs, that I am aware of.

6) I believe society would be better served if we could bring back these words into everyday use: Bailiwick, Hootenanny, Skullduggery, Scofflaw, Ballyhoo, Shenanigans, Donnybrook, Catawampus, Chicanery, Cajoled, Hullabaloo, Besmirch, Boondoggle, Melee, Befuddle, Flummox, Hoosegow, Wiseacre, Tomfoolery, and Kerfuffle.

7) As an author and a writer, I am not afraid to say that books of non-rhyming “poetry” with sentences like, “My mind is a seedless grape, grasping to comprehend the melancholy oration, drowning in a cacophony of humanity…” etc., are written by people who are too scared to attempt to write anything that is required to make sense.

8) I am slightly over six feet tall, I weigh around 200 pounds, and I have the bladder capacity of a four-year-old. Unfortunately, Son Number Three inherited this trait. He is ten and has the bladder capacity of a hamster.

9) My three favorite flavors are burnt pepperoni, slightly burnt bacon, and well-toasted sesame seeds. Basically, if it has caught on fire, I want to eat it. Except for my s’more marshmallows. Those should only be browned.

10) I was in shape once. I swam 100,000 yards in one week when I was in high school. I could not swim more than 50 yards or so today without needing a floatation device, an oxygen tank, and a defibrillator.

11) I love bacon and I sit all day. See number 10.

12) I constantly get my left and right mixed up. This makes driving directions with my wife fun.

13) I am a recovering engineer, so I know there are only 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

14) My favorite joke of all time is:
A guy walks into the psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but underwear made out of Saran wrap. The psychiatrist takes one look at him and says, "Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts."

15) I like writing dialogue.
“You do?” they asked in unison.
“Yes. I do,” he said solemnly.

16) I love most foods (see number 10), but I have a deep, abiding hatred for cantaloupe. If bacon is a 10, cantaloupe is a negative 3000.

17) I love to travel and I love to stay home, but I don’t want an RV. Go figure.

18) My absolute favorite thing that has ever happened on this earth – and I am including my marriage and the birth of my children in that – was when the Oregon State Highway Division tried to disintegrate a dead whale with a half-ton of dynamite in 1970. I wasn’t around yet, but thankfully they had video cameras back then. (Just Google “Oregon Exploding Whale.”)

19) Coincidently, my favorite thing ever said on television – and I am including anything ever uttered on The Newlywed Game – came from KATU Channel 2 newsman Paul Linnman in 1970 after the whale dynamite was detonated. When large chunks of whale rained down on people and cars over a quarter-mile away, Paul noted, completely deadpan, “The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.”

20) My wife is still laughing right now about number 1.

So, there you have it, folks. You now know everything you need to know about me. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 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!