Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Righteous Search?

The internet is an amazing thing. Prior to its invention, it was not possible for me to spend nine consecutive hours watching videos of the greatest plays in major league baseball history from the comfort of my own home office desk, where my legs have fallen hopelessly asleep like the rest of me should be because it’s three in the morning. But the internet makes that possible.

But for all the obvious benefits, I’m getting a little concerned that there may be some unintended consequences associated with having unlimited information at our fingertips. Especially when that information doesn’t seem to be vetted by anyone with an IQ above that of celery, as I discovered on a recent Google search.

For a reason that escapes me, I was Googling the definition of “righteous.”

The first result was an official-looking box labeled “Dictionary,” with the apparently official definition. I say apparently, because I was more than a little skeptical after I read the whole thing.

Being in the second half of my forties, also known as the “My Knees Hurt” half, I grew up with real dictionaries printed on paper and compiled in book form. They were large, cumbersome, comprehensive, and in all my years growing up and into adulthood, no single person I am aware of ever called into question the validity of a word definition found in one of these books. Dictionaries were, by definition, the bible of definitions. No arguments. If it says it in there, that’s how it is.

I even still have one on my desk, an arm’s reach from my computer, but most times it’s just easier and faster to Google a word. I’m re-thinking that laziness now.

The first definition of “righteous” given to me by Google seemed perfectly legitimate:

(of a person or conduct) morally right or justifiable; virtuous.
"feelings of righteous indignation about pay and conditions"

OK, I’ll accept that. Makes sense.

Do you know what didn’t make any sense? The second definition:

very good; excellent.
"righteous bread pudding"

Um… huh?

I mean, I agree with the initial definition. I grew up using the informal US-based slang term “righteous” to denote anything that was extra cool. That’s not in question. It’s your choice of example sentence, dear Google, that I have issue with.

Bread pudding!? Seriously? You needed to come up with an example of something a hip, informal US slang user would say, and “this is some righteous bread pudding” was the winner?

No informal slang user, US-based or otherwise, has ever uttered the words “righteous” and “bread pudding” in the same sentence. I’m not sure where you’re from, or even what bread pudding really is, but I’m quite sure you’re not from Earth, and bread pudding has never been even remotely righteous.

This utter lack of common sense and culinary decency calls into question every single thing you might tell me ever again. You have lost my trust with your ridiculous example sentence, and driven me back to my trusty, tangible, paper bible of words.

I mean, I expect this kind of thing from Wikipedia, but not you, Google. I thought you were better than this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to watching the highlights from every world series in history.

Righteous bread pudding! You should be ashamed of yourselves.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Vegan-Free Celebration

I just finally figured out the main reason I’m not a vegan. Besides their whole incomprehensible No Bacon policy, I mean.

It hit me this Sunday on St. Patrick’s Day. While 99.9% of Americans were joining me in celebrating our Irish-ish heritage, the vegans were left out again. I think this might be why many of them seem so bitter. Vegans are sadly incapable of properly celebrating anything.

There are two key components to a St. Patrick’s Day party. Green beer and corned beef. Assuming the green beer dye was not animal- or insect-based, the vegans could get half, and arguably, the most important part, Irish-ly speaking, of the celebration. But they can’t have the full-meal-deal, as it were. Corned beef is amazing, and they are missing out on it.

Corned beef is traditionally cooked with potatoes and cabbage. Those are vegan-approved, but not when cooked with the corned beef in the crock pot, as God intended. So, along with their green beer, vegans are forced to eat regular cabbage – probably uncooked and raw, knowing them – and boring potatoes with no butter, sour cream, or even bacon bits. Just dry potatoes with chives. Chives are meant to be held onto your potato bites by sour cream, nature’s delicious adhesive. They probably just fall off onto the plate or into your lap without it. That’s no kind of celebration.

And this self-inflicted holiday exclusion continues year-round. Thanksgiving turkey? Nope. How about some Thanksgiving tofurkey? There’s nothing to be thankful for there.

Christmas Cornish game hens? New Year’s polska kielbasa? Valentine’s Day milk chocolates? Easter ham? Cinco de Mayo carne asada street tacos? Memorial Day burgers? Independence Day hot dogs? Labor Day meat lover’s delight pizza? Columbus Day leg of lamb? Veteran’s day shish kebab, abalone, or meat and cheese fondue (your choice, because freedom)? Nope, nope, nope, and more nope.

And forget holidays for a minute. What do you do when you get the big promotion at work? Or for your anniversary, or birthday? You go out to dinner and you get the steak. Or the lobster. Or the crab. Or salmon. Whatever.

How does a vegan even celebrate good news? “Hey, I just found out we’re getting a huge unexpected tax refund. Let’s go out to dinner tonight. We’ll order the whole eggplant!”

I had never understood why vegans are always trying to persuade other people to join them on their meatless non-thrill ride. I mean, how can you go through life never eating pulled pork nachos? It doesn’t make any sense. In light of this new revelation, I think it might be a “misery loves company” thing.

Now that we know they’re secretly unhappy, I think it’s time we turn the tables on them. We owe it to every vegan we meet (meat?) to extoll the benefits of beef and pork products. If even one or two of them can finally know what it means to truly celebrate, it will all be worth it.

But be smart about it. Offer them some of your omelet or grilled chicken sandwich at first, just to start them off slow. Don’t start with baby back ribs or a T-bone. You learn to drive in a Honda, not a Ferrari.

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, March 13, 2019

Free Shipping at UPS

Besides hosting one of the greatest author day events in the history of organized education last week, with free books for every student, I think one of the teachers at the elementary school has just given us all the gift of free shipping. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday, UPS showed up with a good-size box addressed to me from Warrior Sports – the company that I bought Son Number Two’s lacrosse gear from. I hadn’t ordered anything from them recently, so I had no idea what it could be. Son Number Two tore into it and produced a box of Lucky Charms cereal, a package of cookies, a book of stamps, and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day greeting card addressed to him.

This seems like a strange thing for Warrior Sports to be sending my son. Are they just the most Irish, most customer-centered company in the entire world – so much so that they send strangely random and personalized St. Patrick’s Day gifts to every single one of their customers every year? Seems unlikely, but here we are…

Upon opening the card, it had a nice note wishing our son a fun-filled St. Patty’s Day, signed, “Love, Mom & Dad.”

Uh… Hmm…

Honey, did you get a second job at a hockey and lacrosse equipment company and forget to tell me?

No? Me neither. Umm… what the heck is going on here?

Then we flipped the box over and saw the second UPS label – the one with a white sticker covering up the bar codes – and my handwriting in Sharpie marker on the flap of the box.

Mrs. Smith – Fifth Grade – Room 12

*sound of light bulbs turning on in my brain, illuminating the dark, confused, hazy cloud*

Ohhhhhhh! Now I understand what is happening here!

This was the old box that Son Number Two’s lacrosse helmet came in, that I then re-used to hand-deliver a big stack of books to Mrs. Smith’s classroom last week. Mrs. Smith then repurposed the box as a St. Patrick’s Day care package for her son, who is presumably in college and enjoys sugary cereal and snacks and never writes home to his parents, and also shares a first name with my son. No one noticed the old UPS label from Warrior Sports on the bottom of the box, since apparently, I opened it upside down the first time. No one, that is, except for the UPS sorting machine that noticed two conflicting labels and kicked it out to the UPS This-Box-Has-Two-Labels-Fix-It guy, who then chose to cover up the bar codes on the wrong one. So, the very coincidental box came back to my house.

So, we peeled the cover-up sticker off the correct bar codes and put it over the other ones, then grabbed the packing tape from the garage and re-taped the cellophane packaging on the remaining cookies as best we could. Then we bundled it all back up for the poor, starving, possibly pre-diabetic college student.

Off we went to the UPS store, where we waited in line to talk to the young lady at the counter. I explained the situation to her and told her I wanted to make sure the label would still work to get it to the college student so he could finally write a letter home to his wonderful parents who have excellent taste in cookies, demanding to know what happened to over half of them.

She said, and I quote, “Oh, sure, no problem. It will get there. The labels don’t expire.”

“OK, great. Thanks.” Wait. What?

The labels don’t expire? How can that be?

The first label did work twice to get the box to my house…

*sound of more light bulbs turning on in my head, although this time much slower, like they were on dimmer switches*

Um… does this mean what I think it means? If you have someone you regularly send things to, I’m pretty sure you never have to pay for shipping again. Just ship it once back and forth with the labels on opposite sides, and never remove the labels. Then simply cover up the other label every time you want to send it back, for free.

I feel like, as a multi-billion-dollar worldwide corporation, UPS would have figured out a fix for this, like for instance, having the labels expire, but here we are.

Thanks, Mrs. Smith, for the life hack! And a very happy St. Patrick’s Day to the young Mr. Smith. Study hard, write your parents, and for goodness sake, don’t forget to brush your teeth.

As for the rest of you, enjoy your free shipping while it lasts. They’re bound to catch on sooner or later.

In the meantime, 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, March 6, 2019

Free Books at Walmart

We interrupt this regularly-scheduled column for a severe hand cramp. I am typing this with my left hand and my nose.

It all started a few months ago when I was contacted by the vice president. No, not that one. The vice president of the PTA at one of our local elementary schools. She was contacting me to set up an author visit, which is a normal occurrence, but this one had a twist. She was in the process of trying to get a grant to buy every single kid at the school one of my books. I was immediately in favor of the idea.

She continued to work hard and I went about my daily routine, which is centered largely around snacking, keeping my cheese dust-covered fingers crossed that she could pull it off. Lo and behold, almost a month ago, she called to tell me the good news that she had secured the money, and every student would get a book!

I hadn’t asked originally, but I just assumed she was working with the school district, or some other education-based entity to get the money, so I was surprised when she told me the funds were coming from Walmart. I immediately began to wonder who I had gotten myself involved with, but she assured me that she didn’t rob the Walmart, like I naturally concluded.

It turns out that every Walmart and Sam’s Club store in America has ten thousand dollars per year that the store manager is in charge of giving away to local non-profit and charity endeavors. How cool is that!? My books may not be in Walmart, but they are sponsored by Walmart!

I immediately inquired to our neighborhood Walmart about getting some funds donated to the newly-established Schmatjen Family Mortgage Relief and Vacation Foundation, but they apparently have strict guidelines about charitable status blah blah, or something. I stopped listening after they threw me out.

So why am I experiencing severe, physically debilitating cramping in my right hand, you ask? Well, I was given almost an entire month to complete the task of signing all the books, so naturally I left it until the last minute.

The school visit is tomorrow and I’m not even half way through yet.

I have to stop typing now. My left hand is starting to cramp up and my nose is getting sore.

If you know any experts in forgery who would work for beer and snacks, I’d appreciate a quick introduction. In the meantime, I’m going to go duct tape the pen to my right hand and try to keep going.

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!