Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thankfulness 2020

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this may be the first year in recent history that we will all be thankful for the same thing: THE END OF 2020!

Along with that, we are all likely to be thankful for some other similar things, such as family, friends, church, any time you didn’t have to remind someone on Zoom that they were muted, employment, any time the kids aren’t home in the next year, first responders, good health, etc.

Nothing against all those very important things, but I think it’s a shame that we don’t have time to name everything we’re really thankful for before the turkey dries out and the gravy develops an impenetrable skin.

So, here’s my small list of some of the smaller things, in no particular order:


Parking karma

Civil discussions on the internet (just kidding, never seen one)

Days-of-the-week pill containers

The beach

The lake

The pool




Any time they get my order right

Ziploc bags

Phone flashlights

Opposable thumbs

Rolling luggage

Shopping carts that drive straight


Rock and roll



Paying for things with my phone




In-n-Out Burger


Heated seats/steering wheels

Good running shoes

Labrador retrievers


Car backup cameras

The “search a song” listening feature on Google

Dave Barry

Extra space in the neighbor’s garbage can

Pork ribs

Passionfruit La Croix



School libraries





Garbage disposals


Tape, in all its forms, but most specifically duct


Ice cubes

Toilet paper

The plastic things on the ends of shoelaces

Compound interest

Indoor plumbing

Yeti tumblers



Discount printer ink that actually works


Fortune cookies

Microwave popcorn

The five-second rule

Hot showers



Slow-closing toilet seats


Bill Murray

Caller ID


Amazon Prime



And every day it’s not windy

It’s the big things in life, but it’s also the little things in life.

Have a great Thanksgiving,



Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Ask Smidge - The Turkey Edition

Most of the free world, and I use that term ironically, is under tighter COVID restrictions this month, causing a mild state of panic in some American households. With many families not able to gather the generations together, people whom, in years past, have happily sat on the couch watching the Thanksgiving Day football games while their mothers and fathers prepared the feast, are now being forced into the kitchen to handle the turkey.

It’s a scary situation. Believe me, we understand. Many of you know nothing about cooking anything other than Pop-Tarts and Cheerios, so naturally you have turned to the only truly trusted source for all things culinary – the Ask Smidge advice column.

Our inbox has been inundated with poultry-related questions. You ask, we answer! (As always in a fact-based, scientific, and completely non-made-up-on-the-spot manner.)



I know absolutely nothing about cooking a turkey. What temperature do I use and how long should I cook it?

Novice in Norfolk

Dear Novice,

There is nothing to it. First you have to weigh the bird. Do this while it is still alive, so you can just walk it onto your bathroom scale. Once you remove the feathers and the feet, you’ll cook the bird on high for 90 minutes per pound. Carve and enjoy.




This is my first time doing anything at all with a turkey. We bought a frozen one at the store this week. Do I need to thaw it before cooking?

Frozen in Fort Worth

Dear Frozen,

Thawing is a personal choice. A thawed bird will be slightly juicier, but a frozen turkey will have a crispier skin. If you put it in the oven frozen, simply add five minutes per pound to your cook time.




I have never purchased or cooked the turkey before, and I don’t know what size to get. Do they even come in different sizes? We have three teenage boys and my sister has two teenage girls and a grown son. Please help.

Shopping in Santa Barbara

Dear Shopping,

Yes, turkeys do come in various sizes. Economy, Compact, Intermediate, Standard, Midsize, Full Size SUV, Convertible, Luxury, and Luxury Elite Platinum. You want to plan for about ten pounds of bird for every high schooler, so look for one at your store in the 70-80 pound range to be safe.




I’ve helped with the turkey before, but I’ve never been in charge of the stuffing, and I’m lost. Where do I start?

Breadless in Bangor

Dear Breadless,

Stuffing could not be simpler, because the turkey does all the work. Stuffing is nothing more than full-size dinner rolls that cooked down inside the bird. As the turkey cooks, the rolls break apart naturally and form into the smaller stuffing pieces that you know and love. Just buy a couple extra packages of dinner rolls and cram as many of them as you can into that bad boy before you pop it in the oven. The turkey does the rest!




I’m in charge of everything this year, and I don’t know anything about how to make gravy. Do you even make it, or do you buy it? Help!

Dry Dinner in Denver

Dear Dry Dinner,

As with stuffing, gravy is a breeze because the bird does all the work. Gravy is not sold in stores, because it is a natural byproduct of the turkey cooking process. All turkeys are fed a rich diet of corn starch, flour, and butter from a young age, so as they cook, the carcass secretes the ready-to-eat gravy. Yum! That’s why you always cook a turkey in one of those big pans. Makes sense, right? Enjoy!




I’m cooking the bird for the first time this year, so I’m thinking about switching it up and deep frying it in oil. What do you think?

Oiled in Omaha

Dear Oiled,

Deep frying a turkey can be a great option, depending on where you live. You’re in Nebraska, where it’s likely to be cold this Thanksgiving, so I’d say go for it. If you were in a warmer climate, I would probably advise against it. That’s because there is a 100% chance that you will set your house on fire when attempting a turkey deep fry. You folks in the frigid Midwest will enjoy the extra warmth, while the raging grease fire would just be an inconvenient distraction for people in Florida and California, really adding no benefit to the day.



Well, there you have it, America. You’re all set to cook the perfect turkey and have an enjoyable day with whomever can make it to your house this year.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

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, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day

I am proud to say I have quite a few veterans in my family tree, including my own father, his father, and my wife’s grandfather. The old war story that always makes me smile, however, is one from my mom’s side of the tree.

Brad Dolliver, my mom’s Uncle Brad, was a WWII and Korean War veteran. He was the Captain of a B-24 Liberator in WWII, a bomber named the “What’s Cookin’ Doc?,” complete with Bugs Bunny painted on the nose.

He received his plane and his crew here in the U.S., and they had to fly from his home state of Colorado to Kansas for training, and then make the long trip overseas. On the day they were leaving, he called his wife, who worked at the courthouse, and told her to come out onto the front steps on Main Street at noon.

She assumed he was going to drive up with flowers or a box of candy, so you can imagine her surprise when Uncle Brad’s shiny silver B-24 roared over the center of town, less than 500 feet above Main Street. He was so low she said she could clearly see the face of his tail gunner, smiling and waving from his little bubble window in the back of the plane.

When Uncle Brad got to the end of the street, he pulled back on all the throttles momentarily, then slammed them all forward to the stops, backfiring all four engines on his way out of town. An exhaustive “I Love You” courtesy of Pratt & Whitney, and a crazy-dangerous stunt.

He and his crew continued their low-altitude midwestern barn burning run all the way across two states. He was flying so low over some farms that his tail gunner radioed up to the cockpit to announce that the prop wash from the engines was picking chickens up off the ground and flipping them around in the air behind the plane.

Captain Dolliver only decided to put a little more sky between his plane and the ground when the tail gunner radioed back over Kansas to let them know they’d just sent a farmer diving for his life into the dirt off a moving tractor.

(That incident could very well have been the first chance meeting between the families, since my dad’s side were Kansas farmers, but, alas, we’ll never know.)

Brad said, when interviewed later in life about the flight, quite simply, that none of them knew if they were ever coming back, so they were having as much fun as they could along the way.

As it turns out, thankfully, his whole crew did make it back. Captain Dolliver and his nine men flew thirty missions over Europe, only sustaining one single crew injury, when flak shrapnel hit one of his gunners on their final mission over Germany. That was an amazing feat, since their campaign tour included being shot down on Christmas Day, 1944!

They were hit hard by anti-aircraft fire that knocked out three of his four engines, and he knew they couldn’t make it back to their airfield in England. He was losing altitude fast and heading for the Allied lines in France when he told the crew to bail out. There was heavy ground fog, and he had his eye on a large clearing, but had no way of knowing if it was a field or a lake.

His crew unanimously disobeyed his order and they all stayed with him in the crippled plane. As he recalled, he made the smoothest landing of his entire career that day, thankfully, in what turned out to be a plowed field. He and his crew hitched a ride with a French farmer in a pickup truck, and Uncle Brad assumed they were being taken to the nearest Allied forces.

Fortunately, the navigator didn’t stop doing his job after he got out of the plane. He was paying attention, and informed Captain Dolliver that they were being driven in the wrong direction, toward the Germans. The way Uncle Brad told the next part of the story speaks volumes about his generation and their matter-of-fact style. As he put it, “Somehow my .45 ended up in that Frenchman’s ear, and we got that truck turned around the right way.”

Got to love it.

Uncle Brad and his crew were some of the lucky ones that returned home from the wars they fought. On this special day set aside to remember and thank our veterans, let us not forget those who gave their lives for our liberty, and the liberty of other nations.

As a husband and a father, I can imagine no sacrifice more grave or selfless than the one the soldier makes when he or she leaves their family behind to fight on foreign soil on our behalf.  The physical, mental and emotional toll must be staggering, but we are reminded of the caliber of people who stand at our defense when we hear them say, as Brad Dolliver said, “We were just doing our jobs.”

The humility and grace of our nation’s finest always strikes and inspires me, and I am always at a loss for words of gratitude when I get a chance to thank them. It’s always just a simple “thank you,” because anything else I would or could try to express would fall well short of the reverence deserved.

For all the thanks and praise our returning heroes rightly receive, sadly it is the men and women that we will never get a chance to thank who deserve our utmost appreciation. They gave their lives for us, and that is a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

So, from this freedom-loving American to all you VFW’s out there, all I can say is, “Thanks for your service,” because I will never be able to adequately convey what you truly mean to me.

God bless you all.

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, November 4, 2020

Exam Questions

Few things are more impressive in their function than the combination of medicine and technology. In most cases, it’s impressively good, like laser eye surgery, MRI’s, and cyborgs.

In some cases, it’s impressively bad, like when our three sons became “medically independent” at the age of twelve under the idiotic HIPAA rules and now they all have their own user names and passwords to access their secret medical records that I am not supposed to know anything about and I’m not supposed to have access to their accounts except for the fact that if you let a twelve-year-old set up their own medical user name and password, no one, including the twelve-year-old, will ever know what they are, and also I am not allowed to know anything about their medical records or activities right up until it comes time to pay for them and then all of a sudden I am allowed to be involved and no one can seem to see why that is the dumbest thing in the world.

But I digress.

One of the lesser but nonetheless impressively good features of modern technology and medicine is the ability to log into your medical account and see all your files and notes that they take during your doctor’s visits.

I had a yearly physical appointment the other day, and just for kicks I read the notes afterward. While the technology is cool, I do have a few questions about the notes themselves that have me wondering just how precise this whole “physical exam” system is.

For starters, my body mass index was listed as 29.27, which really meant nothing to me until I read further and saw that I was in the 25-30 = Overweight category. I would generally agree that I’m overweight, especially after my impressive Halloween candy intake this year, but a closer look at the numbers had me questioning the data.

Noting that I was on the high end of Overweight, I found a BMI chart that told me I was only two pounds (or six Snickers, in Halloween math) away from being Obese. It’s not just that “obese” for me is unrealistic, but that the chart wants me to lose 40 pounds just to get out of Overweight and into Optimal. And I can lose as much as 80 pounds and still be in the Optimal category.

Now, you may not know me personally, but let me assure you, if I lost 80 pounds, I would look like I was just freed from a two-year stint in a POW camp. I’m not putting a lot of weight in the BMI chart. (See what I did there?)

Under GENERAL in the notes, I was listed as “well developed, well nourished, in no distress, and alert.” I will take all of that as a compliment.

However, under HEAD, they wrote, “skull is normal in size and shape.” Nothing could be further from the truth. My head is abnormally large and dented and scarred from years of poor timing and/or decision making. I think my doctor may have just been trying to be nice, but facts are key here.

EYES: “normal in appearance.” I would agree with that, but would also like to add “kind, bright, and wise.”

EARS: “external ear normal.” Again, they are rather large and I think she was just being nice. Same situation with my nose.

LUNGS: “normal chest excursion.” I have no idea if that was a typo, but if not, then I don’t know anything about how my lungs work.

HEART: “regular rate and rhythm.” Maybe here in this office, but you should feel it when I try to take my 29.27 BMI's on a run!

Under MUSCULOSKELETAL and EXTREMITIES, I am proud to report that I have a normal spine ROM, no cyanosis, no clubbing, and no edema, assuming all of that is good, since I have no idea what any of it means.

MOTOR FUNCTION has me a little confused. They noted “grossly normal strength.” On the one hand, “grossly” would suggest that I am super buff. On the other hand, “normal” is not a word associated with an excess of anything. I am either offended by this, or pleased with my workout efforts. I’m not sure which.

As confusing and questionable as all that was, the note that really had me wondering was under CORTICAL FUNCTION. My doctor listed me as having “normal intellectual function, normal memory, and good judgement.”

C’mon! These are the notes on me, right? It’s as if they got my file mixed up with someone who can keep a thought in their head for more than ten seconds, can remember what they had for breakfast, and doesn’t have an impressively long list of bad decisions that haunt them to this very day.

Technology is great and all, but having notes available online is only helpful if the notes are true. Trying to be nice about it isn’t helping anyone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go eat a salad.

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!