Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What the hECK?

I was recently reviewing my profile on Google Blogger and decided to click on the link to my listed occupation, writer and author.

Much to my delight, I discovered I’m in an elite group of other amazing “writer and author” folks. Most of us listed our interests in our bios.

For instance, a fellow writer and author lady from England listed her interests as: Reading, cooking, gardening...angels, spiritual, paranormal, Finland, cats!

She sounds fun.

A colleague from India listed his interests as: Public relationship Fight againest injustice.

Keep up the Fight, good sir.

It was riveting to read about so many of my professional brethren and what they were up to when not writing or authoring, but one gentleman in particular caught my eye. His listed interests were: Writing, reading, hiking, watching T.V.but within all it's the opportunity to serve as a co-worker with my spiritual guide the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master.

Hmm… interesting. An esteemed colleague of mine from Salem, Oregon has just stumped me, spiritually speaking. What is a Mahanta and a Living ECK Master? Thank God (or whoever), for the internet! I was able to research it all in a matter of minutes.

Eckancar, or ECK: Each of us is connected to God through Divine Spirit (the ECK), which can be heard as Sound and seen as Light. Eckankar offers a spiritual toolkit to help you experience the Light and Sound of God.

(It remains unclear if we’re supposed to be saying each letter in ECK, or if it’s supposed to be one sound, like what you say when you flick something gross off your hand.)

The ECKists are led by none other than Sri Harold Klemp, the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master. (There is a picture of the bespectacled ECK Master, in his polyester suit and wide striped tie. He looks like a 1980’s midwestern insurance salesman.)

Sri Harold offers us: simple daily spiritual exercises that can give you the experience of the Sound behind all sounds, and the pure Light of God; techniques for personal experience with dreams, past lives, Soul Travel, and your spiritual destiny.

The super-modern-looking ECK website boasts: tens of thousands of ECKists around the world and Eckankar spiritual study groups in hundreds of cities. This global community is supported by a worldwide spiritual center in Minnesota.

(please keep in mind, I am not making any of this up)

In Chanhassen, Minnesota we will find The Temple of ECK, which would obviously also be a good name for a rock band.

The Temple of ECK in Chanhassen, Minnesota, is the worldwide center for the teachings of the Light and Sound of God. Located at the heart of the Eckankar Spiritual Campus, it is a local community church and a Golden Wisdom Temple. Seekers of truth come here for the spiritual study of past lives, dreams, and Soul Travel.

Speaking of Soul Travel, that adventure just happens to be featured in this weeks’ ECK-tastic Spiritual Exercise of the Week.

First Landmarks of Soul Travel
One way to leave the body via Soul Travel is to lie down after dinner when you are drowsy. Plan to nap for five minutes, and watch the process of falling asleep. If you try the exercise with your spouse, agree to meet outside the body a few minutes later. Then watch carefully as your mate steps free of the physical body and enters the spiritual one in a burst of radiant light.

Sri Klemp then goes on to describe the journey:

The moment Soul leaves the body, It finds Itself in a blue-grey zone near the Physical Plane. This zone is an approach to the Astral Plane. The sensation of moving from the Physical to the Astral body is like slipping through a large iris of mild wind currents; this iris is the Spiritual Eye. Soul enters this neutral zone of blue-grey tones in Its Astral form, a sheath which looks like a thousand sparkling stars.

And the all-important launch zone for the trip:

This buffer zone, or corridor, between the Physical and lower Astral Planes resembles the underground silo of an enormous rocket that is perhaps two hundred feet in diameter and more than two thousand feet deep. The ceiling of this circular pocket is open and may display a brilliant canopy of white light, or you may see a night sky sprinkled with specks of twinkling stars. There may even be a pastoral scene by a river, whose waters murmur their pleasure at life.

I think it’s entirely possible that someone slipped some acid into Harold Klemp’s meatloaf at the Greater Twin Cities Insurance Brokers Association dinner and he later fell down an abandoned well.

Instead of seeking medical attention, he seems to have started a religion.

In a completely unrelated matter, I’d like to announce my new religion. You are all invited to join. It’s called AKC. You may say each letter, or you can choose to make the sound of having a chicken bone stuck in your throat.

AKC will be just like ECK, only cheaper. For the low price of only twenty percent of your gross income per year (before deductions or taxes, of course, praise the Spirit Soul), we will worship all the recognized major dog breeds, and I will instruct you to nap on a daily basis. (Spiritual Soul travel naps, obviously, but with astral canine companions.)

Dog is my copilot.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Cramping Our Style

I recently had a major revelation regarding my youth.

The good people of my parents’ generation arguably saved countless millions of lives by enforcing proper backyard barbecue pool safety, and yet somewhere between being a kid and having my own kids I completely forgot about this steadfast rule.

You may remember it from your own traumatic after-dinner childhood experiences:

Absolutely no swimming for a half-hour after eating. You will cramp up and drown.

This was an indisputable FACT of my youth that I only recently remembered, and now, as a marginally responsible father of three boys, I am beginning to question it.

Since I forgot all about it and therefore it was never enforced, I now have fourteen years of empirical pool data gathered from multiple test subjects that completely refutes the automatic post-meal cramping claim.

Not only do I have no data that supports the “need to wait” claim, I actually have plenty of data that shows a ten-year-old swimmer can actually eat a hot dog while treading water and still not cramp up.

Now that I sit back and think about the thirty-minute rule, it seems laughable. What was supposed to happen? I’d be swimming along while my stomach and small intestines worked furiously on all that potato salad and finally my muscles would just give up?

“There’s just not enough blood for digestion and swimming. We’re shutting down!”

Was my entire body going to cramp into the cannonball position and I would just sink to the bottom of the deep end like a rock? We were in a swimming pool. We could never physically be more than a body-length away from a wall.

Was the thirty-minute rule originally developed by parents of young open-ocean endurance swimmers, and no one ever stopped to think that maybe it didn’t apply to pools that were only nine feet wide?

And believe me, I have children – if this was just a lie the parents were telling us to maintain their sanity by keeping something far more annoying from happening, I would completely understand. We lie to our kids all the time! But the thirty-minute rule had no benefit whatsoever to the adults. All it did was create a situation where the kids would finish dinner then simply stand next to the adults and ask approximately six thousand times if it had been thirty minutes yet. That is waaaay more annoying than having to keep an eye on the kids in the pool.

The adults had to believe it as gospel. So why didn’t I take that rule with me into my own parenting? Why did I forget all about it?

Probably because when I was in high school or college I went swimming right after eating a burrito the size of my head and experienced no life-threatening cramping whatsoever.

Now I find myself questioning everything.

Is that gum I swallowed really going to stay in my stomach for seven years?

Will eating carrots not give me better eyesight?

Does coffee really stunt your growth?

Did that special dye that would turn my pee green if I peed in the pool even exist?

My whole life was a lie.

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, September 11, 2019

Property Mismanagement

We had a neighborhood barbecue a while back. It was on a sunny Sunday afternoon this past March, and it was the kind of day just tailor-made for an impromptu get-together out on the street.

We didn’t grill burgers or dogs, though. We cooked a Prius.

Well, I shouldn’t say “we” cooked a Prius, so much as, the meth addict felon who lives down the street cooked his Prius. We just all came out to watch.

That fine afternoon, Sir Meths-a-Lot had somehow caught something in the middle of his driveway on fire. He remedied that situation by intentionally kicking over a large can of gasoline at the top of his driveway, which ran down into the fire and strangely enough, started a much, much larger fire.

By the time I saw the giant plume of black smoke rising above the rooftops, the entire driveway was burning, his Prius, which was parked at the curb in front of the driveway, was ablaze, and a flaming river of gasoline was running down the gutter toward two of his neighbor’s cars.

Good times.

His also-a-meth-head-but-so-far-only-committed-misdemeanors brother managed to get the fiery river put out before any more cars caught on fire, and it wasn’t too much longer before a couple garden hoses had the entire barbecue extinguished and Captain Felony Meth could concentrate on shouting at one of his neighbors to – and I’m not making this up – “mind your own business, bro.”

This fun Sunday afternoon get-together came after at least a year of other amusing antics and shenanigans over at Methtopia, including, but not limited to the following (and keep in mind, I am not making any of this up):

Fights on the front lawn
Homeless lady living in her truck out front and using their potty
Power washing the house/driveway/street at midnight
Throwing two dozen eggs from the side yard onto the neighbor’s house at 3 A.M.
Vacuuming the street with a Hoover upright
Mowing the street with an electric lawnmower
Power washing the lawn
Oh, and a full guns-drawn SWAT team raid on the house

That was all just neighborly fun and games, but apparently I have a limit, and as we found out, that limit is lighting the street on fire.

After the barbecue that no one was invited to, I did some internet research and came up with a few phone numbers. I texted around until I found the property owner and told him that his renters just lit his entire driveway on fire and it was time for them to find other, more suitable accommodations.

He then told me he only managed the property for his son, who owned it, but he would go check things out that day.

When I inquired back about the property visit, he texted back, “Everything looked fine. No problems.”

I decided at that point that an in-person meeting might be appropriate.

At the meeting, which took place at my kitchen table, I informed Roy of all the silly things that have been going on over at his son’s rental property, and that it was definitely time for the renters to fire up the old Prius, as it were, and head on out.

He amazingly tried to make the case that they were really quite nice, but I finally convinced him to give them notice. We settled on a charitable thirty days’ notice, even though three days were all that was required by law, given the many, many drug arrests that had occurred in the home. We shook on it.

He texted me later that week to tell me he changed his mind and they could stay until the lease ran out on August 31st.

I texted him back and told him how small claims court works for a landlord operating a nuisance property.

He ignored me.

During the dedicated public servant portion of the barbecue, Mr. Amphetamines-R-Us got popped for felony possession of a weapon while on parole (parole in this case, I’m assuming, meaning the entirety of his twenties and thirties), so he went back to his home away from home.

My first-ever incarceration report search (God bless the internet) turned up the fact that Doctor Now-I-Have-To-Do-Crappy-Jail-Toilet-Meth was scheduled to be in the slammer until after the lease expired, so I let it go.

A For Sale sign went up on the lawn in July, and things were looking promising until Future Eagle Scout Time-Off-For-Good-Behavior came home in mid-August to resume his standard routine of basically living in the front yard and doing absolutely nothing even remotely productive with his life.

I texted Roy. Here’s how that went.

Me: When will they be out?

[August 31st ]

Me, On August 31st: Will your tenants be gone by the end of today?

[They will start moving tomorrow hopefully . but not later than Tuesday
They are moving to my other house, other house’s tenant be out till midnight,so don’t worry PL try to help me find a nice buyer]

September 2nd: [Because holiday,may be we are running behind ( one day)]

Me: So, will they be out by Wednesday?

[Yes sir (OK hand emoji)]

September 4th: [They are moving since last night sir]

Me on September 5th: Your tenants are still at the house tonight.

[They are moving it may take 3 days to finish,sir]

Me on September 10th: It is Sept 10th. Your tenants were supposed to be out on August 31st. They are still in the house, with no signs of being out any time soon. What is your plan to get the felon drug addict who nearly burned your house to the ground out of our neighborhood?

At this point, I received a text from the second number I had, which I thought belonged to the owner, Roy’s son.

[This is Bea. Im Roy's daughter. I cant help but get your texts everyday. Are you renting the house or buying the house on plum? Whats really going on?]

Me: Sorry to have included you on the text string. I thought you were one of the owners. I'm a neighbor with kids, on a street full of people with children. The tenant is a meth addict, a felon, and the definition of a nuisance. He nearly burned down the house one day, which was when I contacted your dad and told him they needed to go. And I am honestly amazed that he didn't come to that decision on his own! This was after the SWAT team raided the house with guns drawn while my kids were playing in the street, and I don't know how many fights on the front lawn between the felon and his drug addict associates. I met with your dad and he told me in person he would evict them in 30 days. He then went back on that and told me they would be allowed to stay until August 31st. It is now Sept 10th. They need to leave this neighborhood, and I need to know an actual day they will be gone. They are wholly unacceptable, and suing your father for running a nuisance property is the only next step. I already made him aware that each affected family can sue for $5000 per person, including children, which adds up to a conservatively estimated $100,000 lawsuit. Time for them to go, now. That's what's really going on.

[First, I d like to thank you for being a concerned neighbor.

Second, if my dad says he will do something. You can mark my words. He is a man of his word.

3rd, My dad raised 3 kids in the same neighborhood. I want you to know things are being taken care of.

I just need to step off the gas pedal a lil bit and know you have been respectfully heard and my family is making it happen.

My dad stays unwell. Please be respectful. Nobody is ignoring you. We are all families in this community

Contact me directly from now on.

The new family thats moving in has their trucks outside being loaded.]

Me: I was not aware your dad was unwell. I will contact you from now on, but hopefully that won't be necessary. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

[Again Marc, I want you to know my dad is under doctor's care and is very fragile. He is a good man. You will be taken care of at any cost. Period.

Have faith and some patience. M working on it too from Chicago as well.

You have our utmost respect n attention. I will personally contact you soon.

I m looking out 4 my dad and his health too. I only got 1 old man.

He dont need threats, your request is enough 4 all of us to step in.

My name is Bea. M his oldest kid. I invite you to be patient with serene calm mind. Universe will return the favor in 10 folds.

Namaste! (prayer hand emoji)]

Umm… say what?

Me: I am nice and serene. You didn't answer the question. What do you mean when you say the new family moving in has trucks outside being loaded? Outside where? As of this minute, the Plum house is still occupied by the old tenants.

[We have new tenants moving in very soon. Be patient, be kind. Everytime u look towards the house, inhale love n exhale love. Right now, you may not be perceiving things as they are, rather how you see!

No need to be on pins n needles. Cuz I got chu! Relax.

Your request has been received, approved, accepted, sealed, stamped!]

What in the actual hell is this idiot talking about? Are there three different people on the other end just grabbing the phone to text random crap at me? Can someone throw the phone to an adult?

Me: What actual date on the calendar will your current tenants be gone?

[I will call you tomorrow with that. Im sending my own tenants from my house to shift over there.]

Me: Text me. I like to have things in writing. It brings me peace and harmony.

[Blessings (double pink and red heart emoji)]

Shocking situation update: I never received a follow-up text.

Pray for us while I inhale and exhale love.


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, September 4, 2019

Blinded by the Light

We saw a man holding a sign yesterday.

It was odd, to say the least.

He was not spinning or throwing a big arrow sign inviting us to buy a new home, or get our hair cut. His sign was homemade.

He was not “out of gas – need help,” or “lost job – anything helps.” He appeared to be a sober and employed member of society.

He was not announcing the good news that Jesus loves us. I did not get any sense, one way or the other, of his faith.

He simply was not taking up any of your standard sign-holding causes. Yet, there he was, lobbying the general public for the change he wanted to see in the world.

Alone on the sidewalk at five o’clock in the afternoon, wearing a floppy sun hat to guard against the still-blazing one hundred-degree heat, he held up his sign for the passing cars to read. Or maybe not to read.

Why is the sign blank? Is he holding it backward? Wait, no, I think there might be something written on it. Slow down. What does that say?

The sign appeared to be made in haste, possibly even as few as twenty to thirty seconds before he left the comfort of his air-conditioned home to take up such a noble cause out in the heat of the day. Written in single-line skinny Sharpie marker on a three-foot square piece of poster board was his gripping plea to America:

Ban Blinding LED’s

Umm… huh?

So many questions left unanswered.

Car headlights? Streetlights? Flashlights? Cell phone camera flash/flashlights? Home kitchen lights?

Wait a second! Are my home LED kitchen lights slowly stealing my eyesight from me and I didn’t even know? That would totally explain why I can’t hold the small print far enough away from my face to read it anymore!

It might also explain why I had so much trouble reading his sign, but I had no trouble reading the stop sign he was near, so I think that was on him.

Sadly, his poor sign-making skills may have been preventing his effectiveness in more ways than one. Had his sign been of a more professional and legible quality, he might have been able to market more effectively, and comfortably, to the folks in what I am assuming is his real target audience – nighttime drivers.

Since he was out on the street holding up his nearly blank sign to people in cars, instead of being out front of a Verizon store or a Home Depot, I am assuming the LED’s he wants banned are the car headlight variety. But obviously, he needed to petition us during the day, because his crappy sign would have been impossible to read at night with plain old standard headlights. Only the blinding LED’s he was lobbying against would have been able to illuminate his dull sign enough to be legible, and that would have been completely counterproductive to his worthy cause.

Oh, well.

As bad as he was at being a sign guy, I had to admire his passion for the cause, even if the cause was completely unclear. He was putting himself in harm’s way to get out his faint and confusing message, because it was crazy hot outside, and his legs were insanely white. It was as if they were seeing the light of day for the first time that afternoon.

I’m not sure how much traction he’s going to get on the LED thing, but he’s well on his way to a secondary cause. Ban Blindingly White Legs! Just stand out in the summer sun in shorts holding an illegible sign for an undefined cause until you are lobster-red.

He should Sharpie in “and please bring me aloe” at the bottom of his poster board.

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!