Wednesday, May 27, 2020

48 at 48

I turned 48 years old a few days ago. I would assume that sneaking up on 50 gets some people depressed, but for me it was a happy occasion, because up until three or four days before my birthday I thought I was turning 49, so when I actually did the math I got a bonus year. I’m sure I’ve taken many years off my life through bad diet and exercise choices, but never mathematically.

Getting old obviously has its advantages, and they say with age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, I wish that were more true. Nonetheless, in honor of living through another trip around the sun, I have added to my list of thoughts, observations, and acquired “wisdom.”

Here it is - one for each year. You’re welcome, America.

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 are wrong.

2.  If we could somehow collect the amount of time, energy, and money expended on the fact that Harry and Meghan renounced the throne, I’m convinced we could cure at least one of the cancers.

3.  The three-second rule has a lot of leeway depending on if what you dropped was the last one.

4.  People who say things like, “We’re going to cross-functionalize and parallel task your mission-critical bandwidth,” don’t understand what they’re saying any more than you do.

5.  I dance like I just walked into a spider web.

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 an ad for women's underwear and get excited. I’m not talking about women in underwear, just the underwear itself. Women do not get excited looking at pictures of boxer shorts.

8.  You are wholeheartedly fooling yourself if you think the government is efficient at anything except taking your money.

9.  The clearest evidence that capitalism beats communism is that Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos both own multiple space rockets. Suck it, North Korea.

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

11.  Owning a pool in the winter is like making payments on your new snowmobiles all summer.

12.  You cannot use the phrase, “To be honest with you...”  without giving the listener the impression you aren’t always being honest.

13.  When pulling a stump out of your front yard with a chain and your truck, make sure the roots don’t have ahold of your water main. Trust me.

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.  If one of my boys saw their brother in a fight, I'm certain they would jump in and help. I'm just not sure which side they'd be on.

16.  You can ask someone to do something, or you can tell them how you want it done, but you can’t 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.  There are very few things in life that can make you feel as special as the phrase, “or current resident.”

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 simply 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.  Your dog is convinced it has saved you from being murdered at least a thousand times by barking at the front window, yet you remain completely ungrateful.

28.  Hold out as long as you can before putting on your first pair of magnifying “reader” glasses. The second you do, your eyes give up like a marathoner crossing the finish line.

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

30.  Politicians and salesmen have something in common - If they say anything enough times, they think it must be true.

31.  Pointing out that Van Gogh’s “girlfriend” was actually a prostitute during a fifth-grade art docent lesson is not helpful for anyone involved. I’m not saying I did this, and I’m not saying I didn’t do this – I just want you to know.

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.  Speaking of toilets – you really haven’t had the full parenting experience until your five-year-old son wakes you up at 3:00 A.M. and says, “Dad, I dropped my underwear into the toilet while I was peeing.”
So many questions…

34.  Don’t waste your time trying to have a logical conversation with a teenager. Their brains are physically incapable of sustained logic. Instead, just give them healthy food in large quantities and cross your fingers that they leave your house at some point in your lifetime.

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.  Getting passport photos taken at Walmart seems ironic.

38.  I am not even remotely smart enough to imagine, design, build, understand, or fix a single part of my smartphone, but I still have the gall to get very cranky and entitled when it doesn’t work perfectly.

39.  The idiots who wear their pants down below their butts and have to waddle with their legs spread to keep their pants from falling to the ground are the same idiots who are most likely to try to run from the police at some point. That makes me smile.

40.  Scientists recently discovered that female dragonflies will fake their own death to avoid mating with males. I’ll bet all the married scientists were like, “Yup.”

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.  The problem with creating independent, strong-willed adults is that you have to live with independent, strong-willed children.

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’re drunk

44.  A kid’s definition of “pool toy” is different than an adult’s. We think of pool toys as something designed to be played with in a pool. They define “pool toy” as anything they own, if it happens to be brought into the pool. Like a bike or a sandwich.

45.  No matter who you are, no matter where you're from, there is one shared experience that binds us all together as one people: The sheer horror of the ketchup or mustard water falling from the unshaken bottle and ruining your perfect bun. I feel your pain.

46.  If you are looking to try it, kombucha is an acquired taste. Meaning you have to acquire one of those long skinny cheese graters and completely scrape all the taste buds off your tongue. Then you can drink it.

47.  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.

48. We recently went with a group of friends to a new axe throwing place that served alcohol. I don’t care how many waivers I need to sign – that is a step in the right direction for America!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Fifteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I know that since you can’t visit schools this spring, you are all probably working from home and finally reading the fourteen previous letters I’ve graciously sent you over the years to help you improve your business model. (Cliff Notes on my last letter, in case you’re super-busy like me: Hiring photographers from the DMV or the passport office would be a great start.)

I’m writing again today not to offer you more amazing and free advice on how to improve your little photography hobby shop over there, but simply to let you know that I’m sad.

I am sad that we can’t be together this spring. I know you feel the same way, because you send me weekly emails expressing the same sentiment. You reassure me that you are here for me in these troubled and unprecedented times.

You remind me that you “love being a place where you can capture memories, stay connected to your loved ones, and build community,” and that “in the midst of COVID-19, and school closings, we will continue to be that place where you can share & connect.”

I mean, I don’t miss you that way. Sure, you have certainly captured some memories for me over the years, but they were mostly memories of how bad you are with hair, shirt collars, food stuck to faces, getting kids to smile, and just general photography of humans.

As far as helping people stay connected to loved ones and build community, I have no idea how you ever did that or plan on ever doing that, but cool.

No, the reason I miss you is because it’s spring, and spring has always been the time when you took pictures of my kids that I never authorized, never asked for in any way, and never wanted at all.

Despite all that, you diligently took spring photos of my boys in their best stained T-shirts and soccer shorts, and promptly printed and sent me reams and reams of pictures that I still hadn’t authorized, ordered, asked for, or wanted in any way.

This spring is special, and the fact that we won’t be together this year is breaking my heart. You see, we’ve been quarantined, and the boys haven’t had haircuts in three months. This year’s spring pictures could have been epic.

I could have bought a “vote for Pedro” shirt for Son Number Two, given him bigger glasses, and convinced him to stare into the camera with an idiotic mouth-breather expression. Uncanny.

We could have put zinc oxide all over Son Number Three’s nose and sent him to school in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. He has loads of blond hair and he already has a natural dazed look of utter confusion, so it would have been awesome.

Son Number One’s hair has gotten the craziest, so we naturally would have had to go all out with him. His hair is dark and turns out to be curly when grown out, so he has developed a pretty decent afro for a white kid. Money would have been no object.

I would have bought him a yellow number ten soccer jersey and invested in some quality glue-on mustache options to be sure we got the look just right. A trip to the salon to get those frosted blonde highlights just right and maybe perm out those ring curls a little and he would have been amazing.

You surely understand now why I am so distraught. By doing nothing other than paying attention to when picture day was and making sure they were dressed appropriately, you would have automatically provided me with glossy copy after copy of a perfect not-exactly-red-headed Napoleon Dynamite, a pint-sized Jeff Spicoli, and a truly glorious young Carlos Valderrama.

I still wouldn’t have paid you for them, but I would have definitely kept them this year!

I actually miss you. Who woulda thought, huh?

See you in the fall,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

COVID-19 Shutdown Forced Homeschool Parent Log - Day 61

Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 61

Everyone is still here. In the house. With me. All day. Every day. All of the minutes.

I had high hopes when the stay at home order was first announced. I was going to be sooo productive. Oh, the books I would write. Oh, the to-do lists I would smash. What great shape I was going to get in.

I laugh now, thinking about the optimistic, starry-eyed kid I was back then. Boy, was I fooling myself. I have a hard time even scheduling a shower now. Or at least, a hard time summoning the will to shower.

I exercised pretty regularly those first few weeks, if twice can be considered “regularly.” Those days are long gone. Cardio now only comes in the form of walking up the stairs in our house. I limit my trips between floors as much as possible each day because there are seventeen damn stairs and they are tiring.

I have toyed with the idea of moving my computer downstairs and just sleeping on the couch to eliminate the stairs altogether, but the computer looks heavy. And there are a lot of wires and stuff. Never mind.

My days have been whittled down to one single to-do item – get Son Number Three to log onto his ten A.M. school video call every day. So far, we are batting less than .500. The other two boys may also have school meetings they are missing, but I lack the energy to get involved, or even care.

My wife might want to help with our own kids, but she simply can’t. She’s in charge of attempting to get her high school math students to care about their own online learning. It’s a lot like trying to get a colony of baboons to care about online learning. Most days you’re just ducking the flying poop.

Organized meal planning and preparation has ceased. We have lapsed into unscheduled free-range grazing. We would buy larger clothes if any stores were open, so we exist only in sweatpants.

Despite their blank stares and drooling, the boys have somehow caught on to our ruse of keeping them away from us by getting “high COVID readings” on my old Blackberry phone I told them was my “COVID meter.” My wife and I are now forced to leave the house if we want to get away from them, but that’s a lot of work. Noise-canceling headphones are now being used instead.

The boys desperately need haircuts. They have passed the point of “shaggy” and have moved into “downright embarrassing.” Perhaps if they would shower more, the unkempt eagle’s nests that are being called hair would look a little better, but sadly, we may never know. I don’t even have the drive to take my own shower, let alone harp on a teenage boy long enough to get one to wash himself. I’m just doubling up on the weekly pool chlorine and hoping for the best.

That’s all for now. Just trying to stay positive and looking forward to Day 62, or Armageddon. Either one will do.

Nap time now. Boys, go downstairs and get me a snack! Boys! Boys?

Dammit, I think they got ahold of our noise-canceling headphones again.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cinco de Murder Hornets

I’m just going to come out and say it. Worst Cinco de Mayo ever. Not only are we all still locked in our houses for fear of the mysterious COVID-19, that may either give you a mild case of the sniffles or kill you instantly, but now we have murder hornets to worry about. Gone are the carefree days of taquitos and cheap Mexican beer variety packs.

The insect no one asked for, the Asian Giant Hornet, affectionately nicknamed the Murder Hornet, has arrived in Washington state. They are a treat. They grow to almost two inches long – you read that correctly – and between two and fifty murder hornets can wipe out a hive of thousands of honeybees in just hours. In one recorded attack on a hive, each hornet killed one bee every fourteen seconds, “using powerful mandibles to decapitate its prey.” The massive hornets literally bite the heads off the bees.

Fortunately, Asian honeybees have figured out a solution to this problem. They clump together by the hundreds around a single murder hornet and vibrate – yes, vibrate – which somehow, through mysterious bee vibration witchcraft, produces heat. It can get up to one hundred and fifteen degrees inside a vibrating ball of Asian honeybees, which cooks the hornet, but not the superiorly heat-resistant bees.

Unfortunately, however, we don’t have Asian honeybees. We have European honeybees here in the United States, which don’t possess the same instinct, or perhaps ability, to vibration-cook a hornet. So, our bees just try to sting them, which doesn’t work, because the murder hornets have an armored suit not unlike a tiny flying stormtrooper. Our stupid bees are still busy trying to sting them unsuccessfully when they get their heads bitten clean off.

And forget our bees, for a second, which are the pollination keystone to virtually all our food. Never mind all that. Murder hornets can kill people. Yay!

It’s not all bad news, however. The arrival of the murder hornet could start a new food and drink craze here. The Japanese eat them, which is said to leave a “pleasant tingling and numbing sensation” in the mouth.

No thanks.

They also make Murder Hornet Liquor. Apparently, when you drown a murder hornet in alcohol, right before it dies it releases all its venom. The clear liquor is then aged until the venom turns it amber, then sold for ridiculously high prices at bars, mostly to middle-age men, who – this is my shocked face regarding any story out of Japan involving middle-age men – believe it makes them “more sexually potent.”

Yeah, that’s how that works, middle-aged Japanese guy. Good call.

Putting aside the exciting new food service industry and male enhancement options available to us, you may be asking yourself, “How and why has the Asian Murder Hornet of Death arrived on U.S. soil?”

Great question, concerned citizen. Scientists are “mystified.” The hornets can’t fly over from Asia, and experts think they probably didn’t arrive by cargo ship because they are so aggressive – and freakin’ huge – the crew surely would have encountered them.

I’m not sure why the scientists are mystified. The answer to how and why the murder hornets are here is obvious. They were obviously brought here from Wuhan, China as a COVID-19 deflection tactic.

Deep inside the Wuhan virus lab, the following meeting obviously took place:

Look, guys, we need to do something to get the heat off us. The U.S. is not letting up about this whole COVID thing.

What can we do?

Hmm… another virus?

No, too risky. The last one was gnarly.

Right. Good call. What about another invasive species? Those have been great.

Yes! Now we’re talking. OK, what do we have left here in Asia that we haven’t sent?

Well, let’s see. We already sent the Burmese python. That’s been eating everything in Florida for years.

The Zebra mussel has been clogging their pipes and dams for a while now, and we already sent the Asian longhorn beetle. It’s killing healthy trees like a spider monkey with a chainsaw.

How about a fish?

Nah, we already sent the Asian carp. It jumps into moving boats and knocks people unconscious. Hilarious! But I just don’t feel right about sending another fish after the whole Northern Snakehead thing. That is one crazy mother. Four feet long with a mouth full of teeth and no natural predators is one thing, but the fact that it breathes air and can crawl across land from lake to lake is ridiculous, even by Asian animal standards. That was uncool.

Yeah, I almost feel bad about that one. Hmm… let’s see… Oh! I’ve got it! Murder Hornets!! They have those stupid European honeybees over there. The hornets will have a field day.

Yes! Great call. Pack your bags, Lee, while we make you a fake passport. You’re going to Seattle!

It all seems perfectly clear, doesn’t it?

But proof or not, we still got the shaft on Cinco de Mayo and now we have murder hornets to deal with. I guess we could get some Asian honeybees, but that might backfire.

They would probably just end up killing all our sheep or something with gigantic vibrating bee balls.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 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!