Wednesday, June 24, 2020

High on the Hog

This just in from the Italy news desk - Feral Pigs Eat and Destroy $22,000 Worth of Cocaine Hidden in Italian Forest

You heard me right. Coked-up pigs.

The incident actually took place in November of 2019, but Italy has been so busy dealing with the chaotic aftermath of wild boars on cocaine, they were only now able to get the news out to the world.

Police report that a drug gang consisting of three Albanians and one Italian, with a combined IQ of room temperature, attempted to hide their stash by burying it in the forest. Apparently, this gang of geniuses did not get the memo that the Italian countryside was already being ravaged by wild boar, so they decided to make it much worse by giving them industrial stimulants.  

Police say the drugs originally came from Perugia, which is obviously a made-up name since this is still an active investigation. REALLY active! The cocaine was hidden in the Tuscan forest near Montepulciano (literally translated: “multiple pigs”), while being peddled around the happening party scenes in Arezzo and Siena.

Police first became suspicious when a highway patrol officer clocked a pig running at over 200 miles per hour (4700 kilometer per hour) on the A1. Shortly afterward, reports began to flood in from local farmers.

Mario deVino, a local winemaker, reported seeing two hogs completely destroy his eighty-acre vineyard in just six minutes. “They were a blur,” he told the police. “And they didn't stop there. After they were done digging up all my vines and eating the grapes, they busted through the door to the wine cellar and drank eighty-five bottles of chianti. And not those little American-size bottles, either. They downed eighty-five of our Italian-size restaurant table bottles! You know, the ones we wrap in wicker for no discernable reason.”

The economic losses don’t stop in the countryside. Closer to the big cities, thefts of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis have increased six thousand percent since the cocaine stash was discovered by the swine.

In the cities of Arezzo and Siena, shop owners are reporting wild boars breaking through their front windows and stealing gold chains and open-collared silk shirts. “This was to be expected,” Siena Chief of Police Mario Copalatta told the press. “That’s kind of the standard uniform if you’re going to be driving a Lambo and doing blow.”

Nightclubs have had to bar their doors because of multiple incidents of cocaine-fueled party pigs “hogging” the dance floors, harassing the female patrons, and drinking all the vodka while refusing to pay, reportedly shouting things like, “Why would I have to pay? I own this %$#*& town!”

And unfortunately, the problem seems to be fueling itself. Tuscan wildlife biologist Mario Animalia reported that the population of wild piglets has increased tenfold in just two months. “The standard gestation period for pigs is four months,” Mario stated, “but the cocaine even appears to have sped that up. It’s the perfect storm. The pigs are going “hog wild,” as you Americans say, and the babies are being born twice as fast.”

At the current rate of spread, officials believe Italy will be completely overrun with coked-up hogs in less than a year. While France, Switzerland, and Austria frantically attempt to build boar-resistant border fences, the inevitable spread may not just be contained to the land routes.

Adriatic Sea captains have already reported spotting “really fast” swimming hogs heading offshore from the Italian coast. Presumably, they are attempting to swim to Albania or Greece to find more cocaine.

Notably, Slovenia, on Italy’s northeastern border, reports having no intention of building a border fence. Slovenian Minister of Tourism Marko Discoteca told reporters, “Hey, man, we’re not gonna tell these hogs they can’t come party in Slovenia. We love to party. We love visitors. We love to have a good time. We’re not called Slovenia for no reason. ‘Love’ is our middle name, baby!”

Back in Rome, the Vatican leaders, ever the optimists, see a semblance of hope. The Pope issued a formal call to all Italian Muslims and Jews to consider a temporary lifting of the pork dietary ban. “We might be able to chew our way out of this, if we all work together,” said Vatican spokesman Mario St. Duomo.

Indeed, prosciutto sales are up drastically all across Tuscany. “It’s amazing! We don’t even have to age it,” said Arezzo deli owner Mario Coldcuttia. “It’s already tenderized from all the dancing and whatnot, and completely marinated in red wine and vodka. It’s the best ham we’ve ever had. Everyone who tries it immediately comes back for more.”

That could be the way out. After all, it shouldn’t take too much to convince the country of Italy to take a little extra time for lunch.

Good luck, Italy. Buona fortuna.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Second Open Letter to the School District

Dear folks in charge of the decision making down at the School District,

When I last wrote you in April, I pleaded for you to refrain from having a “spring break” from COVID distance learning when we were all still required to be inside our homes, instead of outside at a beach the way our forefathers intended. You failed to heed my request and went ahead with a pointless week of kids in the house with nothing to do, leading to much of our furniture being broken by wrestling teenagers.

That was one example in a long line of decisions on your part that has left me underwhelmed by your educational stewardship of our youth, not to mention your regard for our home furnishings. And now, here we are at another pivotal decision point.

The California Department of Education has recently released its recommendations for how this coming school year might begin. This represents a massive opportunity for you to redeem yourselves in the eyes of the parents, teachers, coaches, and students, by wholeheartedly rejecting every single one of the asinine ideas they came up with when they weren’t over in the corner of the capitol building eating paste or sniffing their highlighters.

Apparently, the folks in Sacramento are aware that we have children living here in the state, but have never actually met one in person. That’s the only explanation for what they came up with.

I won’t bore you with all sixty-two pages of the recommendation, because, frankly, I didn’t bore myself with them. I stopped reading after the first one or two points in the summary. Just glancing at the summary was enough to surmise that the other sixty-one pages must consist largely of legislative crayon scribbles and drool stains.

Here’s where I stopped reading:

“The guidance asks schools to try to keep students six feet apart at all times — in class, in the hallways and at recess.”


So, in order to maintain the six-feet-apart requirement, they plan to limit classes to between ten and fifteen students at a time, or perhaps hold traditional sized classes in much larger auditorium-style classrooms they will build quickly for every elementary, middle, and high school in the state in the next seven weeks.

If they stick with the existing classrooms, I’m assuming all classroom doors will be widened to a minimum of ninety feet to accommodate all fifteen students at once, as per standard student classroom entry protocol. Class times will obviously need to be extended to account for the half hour it will take to open and close the massive door.

Individual learning and problem explanation will now take place between the teacher and student from six feet apart using a long stainless steel pointer that rests, when not in use, next to the teacher’s desk in a fifty-five-gallon drum of hand sanitizer. Teachers over the age of thirty will be issued binoculars as well to be able to read the student’s paper or computer screen from six feet away.

In order to keep the students six feet apart in the hallways and at recess, each student will be assigned an Individual Student Social Distance Monitor adult to follow them around all day (from six feet away) to make sure they stay properly socially distanced. Since this will double the amount of people on campus (all needing to stay six feet apart), all campuses will immediately be doubled in size and all classrooms will be moved twice as far apart.

Individual Student Social Distance Monitor applications are now being accepted. Background checks are being waived due to the sheer amount of adults required. Since all of this on-campus social distancing is obviously a moot point if the students don’t continue it off-campus once the final bell rings, the ISSDM is a full-time, 24/7 position including room and board at your assigned student’s residence.

Each campus will also be adding multiple “screamer” positions. Screamers will be placed high in trees, man lifts, balconies, etc. and are in charge of yelling at everyone when they forget to stay six feet apart.

Kindergarten through third grade will go to a one-to-one teacher/student ratio in order to give the ISSDM’s a break during class time but still maintain proper in-class separation. Class sizes will be reduced to a maximum of seven students to fit everyone in with proper spacing. Traditional teaching credential requirements are also being waived to accommodate the huge numbers of new teachers required.

Among the many other expansions required, elementary campuses will need to add four times as many K-3 classrooms. An alternative to this would be to maintain current campus facilities and elongate the K-3 curriculum to a sixteen-year program. This could be beneficial since the elementary students would also be qualified to act as ISSDM adults by the end of second grade.


Listen, School District Folks, you have the opportunity to garner the love, affection, and possibly even respect of a vast majority of those involved here. Tell the State of California to kindly kiss your ass and send kids back to normal school in August.

For once, please think about this logically. Those parents that think returning to normal in August is a terrible idea are PARENTS. They have met kids before. They already logically know this idiotic plan won’t keep kids from being all over each other, and they’re already making other plans for their children’s education.

The rest of us are begging you. Please don’t waste more of our money. Please don’t make the teachers’ jobs harder than they already are. Please don’t continue to diminish our students’ education with distance learning or less days on campus. And, overall, please don’t punish our kids in the process. We want them to go to school, not jail.

In short, we need them out of the house!

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Unlimited Life

My family and I were living a cramped, restricted life before we made the change and set ourselves free. No, I’m not talking about boxers vs. briefs. We finally signed up for the unlimited cell plan.

I guess it’s a matter of perspective. I mean, I remember when cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and I used to get a phone bill with long distance charges. That’s right kids, it used to cost more – way more – to call someone in another area code. It was like thirty cents a minute to call someone in another state. And you had to dial a 1 before the number! It was crazy.

And don’t even get me started on calling someone in another country! Not only was there a delay that made it almost necessary to say “over,” as if you were using a CB radio, but it cost three bucks a minute. And keep in mind, those were ‘70s and ‘80s dollars, so that’s equal to seven hundred bucks a minute today. You didn’t call your relatives in England just to shoot the breeze. That’s what letters were for. And don’t even get me started on air mail postal rates…

Anyway, it was a big deal when the fist cell phone plan came out with an unlimited calling option. That was back when we used to use our cell phones as actual phones. Now they are more like internet browsing-enabled video cameras that can send text messages and can also be used to make phone calls in an emergency.

But we used to use them to call people, and it was amazing when we no longer had to dial a 1 and we could just talk for as long as we wanted to someone in Montana. In this case, “as long as we wanted” meant about forty-five seconds until the call was dropped, because cell phone calls didn’t work very well at all. And also, there was no cell reception anywhere in Montana.

Then came texting. Believe it or not kids, when texting first came about, no one used it because you had to hit the same button seventeen times to make a capital “A,” and if you accidentally hit it eighteen times, it became a Greek alpha, an exclamation point, or an apostrophe.

Then along came the Blackberry, that had the entire regular keyboard on the front of it so you could finally text real words. The only problem was the keys were so small that if you were born with human thumbs you were physically unable to hit less than four of the buttons at once, so texting had to wait a little longer.

Finally, the screen became the buttons and we could text! I texted someone for the first time in my thirties and immediately hated it. Why would anyone decide to type out what you wanted to say instead of just calling them? I have unlimited calling minutes, for goodness sake!

But you crazy kids stuck with it and made it mainstream, and now I get frustrated if I need to actually call someone instead of texting them. My unlimited calling minutes mean nothing to me anymore. You can have them. My unlimited texts, however, are gold.

When texting began, we had a plan that had a certain amount of free texts and then ten cents per text if we went over. It worked at first, because no one my age texted each other. Then it got more popular, and pretty soon my wife was using up our free text allotment by the first Tuesday of the month.

Unlimited texts plans became a necessity for us before Son Number One got a phone, but that definitely would have forced the issue. An American teenager can send two thousand texts per hour, just to one other kid from their school that they don’t even really hang out with.

So, we added our first teenager to our cell plan, and entered into the epic battle with the last cell phone bill hurdle – DATA. As the phones got smaller and the technology got better, our data usage began a steady climb. By the time Son Number One got his first phone and thirty seconds later started streaming nine straight hours of YouTube videos, we were up to the largest limited data plan they offered.

We set a data cap for his phone and purchased a Costco-size tub of earplugs to put in every time he reached his data limit and came to us to whine about how unfair life was under our roof. We had to restock the earplugs a few times, but never the data.

Then along came Son Number Two. Limited data was simply no longer an option. I called our carrier and offered to trade them my unlimited call minutes for unlimited data, but they weren’t interested. So, it came time to bite the cellular bullet and go completely unlimited.

I fought it for as long as I could, but once I swallowed the bitter pill of my monthly bill increase, I have not looked back. Going unlimited has been one of the best experiences of my life. I was not expecting, and cannot really explain the feeling of total freedom it gives me.

There were times in the past when someone in the family would accidentally turn off their Wi-Fi for days at a time. I won’t mention any names, but her initials are “My Wife.” I eventually stopped pulling my hair out over how that could happen and just accepted the fact that she used our entire month of mobile data while in our living room. Do I worry about that now? Heck no!

What’s the Wi-Fi password here? Who cares!? We have unlimited data.

Are the boys streaming videos in the car? What do I care? We have unlimited.

Does the Candy Crush game that runs nearly constantly on a road trip connect to the internet to download ads? I have an unlimited plan that says I don’t care anymore!

Is that movie in 3G? 4GLTE? 5G? Who knows and who cares? Hey movie, you take as many G’s, L’s, T’s, and E’s as you need. We have an unlimited amount. Get yourself a BLT while you’re at it.

I’m drunk with power. I have a movie streaming on my phone right now that I’m not even watching. I download things now just because I can.

Our teenagers have turned unlimited data into a competition. They give me regular updates on how much data they have used and argue with each other about who used more and how fast they used it. I am strangely proud of them.

Hmm… You know, come to think of it, while unlimited is amazing, it might not be all that healthy.

Once this initial rush wears off, we might need to think about buying another gross of earplugs and putting limits back on the boys.

And probably on ourselves, too.

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!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

COVID-19 Shutdown Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 82

Forced Homeschool Parent Log – Day 82

Summer starts tomorrow. The school district said the last day of “school” was actually last Friday, but that’s a load of crap.

The original last day of school was on the calendar for tomorrow, June 4th, and I’ll be damned if I’m letting my kids off the hook. Since the schools stopped giving them work, I had to make up my own for this week.

We are having a Home Economics class, involving studying the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and making us dinners. I’m teaching an engineering course on Fluid Dynamics, involving studying all the owner’s manuals for our pool equipment and also skimming the leaves out of the pool. And we’re hosting a work/study program on Urban Housing and Development, which consists mostly of cleaning out our garage.

Tomorrow is our official last day of homeschool, and we will probably just abandon any attempts at learning and eat cupcakes and sign yearbooks. “Yearbooks” in this case will probably just be Post-it notes, since we don’t have their actual yearbooks yet and they don’t want their brothers writing “YOU SUCK!” in them anyway.

We will be teaching one last class tomorrow if any of our boys decide to partake in the time-honored tradition of taking their binders apart and flinging their paperwork all around the homeschool. In that case, their last elective of the homeschool year will be the Janitorial Arts.

The last day of school is always a minimum day, so at noon we will officially mark the end of this ridiculous, idiotic distance learning catastrophe, and we will begin our summer. After 83 days of forced homeschooling three teenage boys, if someone tries to tell us we can’t go on summer vacation, they are going to be invited to a PE class where my three testosterone-y boys introduce them to street tackle dodgeball sumo fistfight, or as it’s more commonly known around here, afternoon.

We are getting in the car and leaving for summer vacation on Friday. I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t care. We might just drive until we run out of gas and camp in a ditch. That sounds amazing.

And I swear on my life, or more to the point, on my children’s lives since they will not live through another homeschooling adventure, if our administrators try to tell us we’re not going back to normal next year, I’m bringing a street tackle dodgeball sumo fistfight game to the district office.

All of your teenagers are invited to join.

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!