Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A Fifth Open Letter to the School District

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

I wanted to write again to make sure you were all still awake and paying attention, since it seems like you aren’t…

We are on school day 236 of our two-week quarantine to flatten the curve on this COVID thing, and school is still being held at my house. Last week we started your insanely ridiculous AM/PM schedule, where school is supposedly “five days a week” on campus, but I would argue that point. For some reason, my kids are still in my house with me all morning until lunch time, when you graciously accept them on campus for three full hours in the afternoon.

Congratulations on cramming two whole days of school into a mere five.

This has all been done in the name of public health, and specifically in your case, as you keep pointing out to me, for “the health and safety of our students,” which you tell me nearly every day is your “top priority.”

Your breakfasts lead me to believe that is a huge pile of steaming crap. Allow me to explain.

Since COVID quarantining increases the average appetite by approximately 3000%, you guys decided to give every student in the entire school district free breakfast and lunch every day for the whole school year. I guess COVID also increased your school budget by 3000% as well?

Anyway, my wife and I have a consistent track record in the past of never letting our kids eat the school lunches, because learn how to make your own damn lunch at home, kid. And also, we like our money, and I can feed them for less than the school lunches cost.

That all changed when you went to the totally free plan. We cannot feed them at home for free because we don’t have access to our children’s grandchildren’s future tax revenue like you guys do.

And now, with the amazing new AM/PM zoo you have created, the breakfast/lunch combo meals are “grab ‘n go” style. No one is eating lunch on campus anymore, because that would take up literally 33% of their school day, so if any kid happens to wander near the cafeteria now, they are handed a plastic grocery bag full of food. It is at this point I need to put food in quotes. They are given a bag full of “food.”

Some of it is actual food, although the mystery ingredients in that thing you are calling a BBQ sandwich are highly questionable. It looks like the unholy coupling of a burger patty and a McRib sandwich, being held together with the gel from the top of a can of Spam.

Anyway, it’s your breakfasts that are the real problem, and the reason why I don’t think you have any intertest whatsoever in the “health and safety of our students.”

The first time one of my boys brought home a bag containing “breakfast,” they pulled out a sleeve of white powdered mini donuts. You know, the kind you see at the gas station. The super-healthy donuts were paired with a nice chocolate milk. Powdered donuts and chocolate milk? Are you serious right now?

The next breakfast that came home had Pop-Tarts.


So, just to recap thus far, you, as a school district, are physically on record as promoting the idea to our children that powdered mini donuts, chocolate milk, and Pop-Tarts are healthy breakfast choices.

I was just shaking my head at that point, but I was willing to look the other way, because I wanted the powdered mini donuts and Pop-Tarts for myself. I lost my cool, however, when a third breakfast came home containing an individual bowl of Froot Loops.

Froot Loops!

They aren’t even made out of actual food. The people that make Froot Loops are so divorced from actual food that they don’t even know how to spell “fruit.”

Have you guys even read the ingredients list on Froot Loops? The very first ingredient is sugar. In case you aren’t aware – and I am assuming, based on the fact that you handed my son Froot Loops, that you are not – the ingredients are required by law to be listed in order of their overall volume in the recipe.

So, since I still feel like I need to explain that to you, what that means is there is more sugar in one Froot Loop than there is anything else. It is a Loop of sugar being held together by some other minor ingredients.

And just a quick scan of the rest of the list tells us that the boys down at the lab are holding all that sugar together with a small amount of wheat and corn flour combined with Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. Yum!

So, again, you are keeping our children out of school in the name of health and safety, and at the same time handing them Froot Loops. I gotta tell you, the sugars, chemicals, dyes, and preservatives in that crappy excuse for a cereal have got to be far more dangerous to them than COVID ever hoped to be.

I don’t know how long you intend to keep this up, but as long as you’re in a spending mood and keep doing this grab ‘n go free food plan, can we ixnay the sugary breakfast crap, please?

I would really rather you just handed the kids a bag of crushed glass instead. Even the kindergarteners would have enough sense not to put that in their mouths.

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Power Mega Super Smidge Lotto Ball Bucks

I like keeping my money, so I don’t normally spend much of it at all on the lottery. My mother-in-law and I split a California Super Lotto Plus ticket for two dollars each week, just simply because winning $15 million would be neat, and if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t have a 1 in 438,000,000 chance of winning. I also stand outside in thunderstorms trying to get hit by lightning, just to increase my chances.

Recently, however, I have been laying down four whole additional dollars at a time each week, buying tickets for both the Powerball and the Mega Millions games. That’s because the Powerball jackpot is estimated to be $730 million and the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $970 million.

That’s almost a billion just on the Mega Millions, which is also probably your odds of winning it. Still, mathematicians will tell you your odds drop infinitely if you don’t buy a ticket. (Mathematicians are theoretical number geeks, however, and this is real life, so in this case when they say “drop infinitely” they mean “stay exactly the same.”)

But here’s the really amazing thing about when these jackpots get so high – the next jackpot grows at a massive rate because so many new people like me start playing. For instance, the Mega Millions jackpot that myself and every other living soul in forty-seven states failed to win in yesterday’s draw was $865 million. The projected jackpot for the Friday draw – just three days later – is $970 million. People are going to spend $105 million in three days on tickets, just for this one lottery game.

No one won the Powerball jackpot on Saturday either, and we all spent $90 million on new tickets for tonight’s draw.

Just between those two games, we, as a nation (minus the three loser states that refuse to participate like a bunch of money-saving nerds), have raised $200 million in ticket sales.

I have a proposition for you. Let’s increase our odds dramatically.

Why let the state governments rake in all that money just to tell us that nobody won again?

“But, Smidge, the money goes to benefit the schools,” you might say.

Yeah, right. Let’s not kid ourselves, here. You just know that money, like every other dollar going to the government, gets funneled through someone’s brother-in-law’s law firm first for the “environmental impact study and resources report” on school spending allocation and inclusiveness, only to come out the other end in the form of a huge yacht for their mistress.

Let’s not let that happen again. She already has a fleet of yachts. And his other mistresses do too. They could start their own navy, for Pete’s sake. Let’s keep that money with us, shall we?

Here’s my plan: When no one wins those two games again, roughly one million of us are going to go out and spend two dollars on new tickets. Instead of doing that, I propose that you one million nice folks send me your two dollars. I will put those one million names in a, presumably, very large hat, and draw the name of the winner.

No complicated numbers to pick in a heavily-weighted scheme that is essentially impossible to win. We’ll have a guaranteed winner of $200 million. And your odds of winning skyrocket. (They skyrocket from non-existent to virtually none, but still, they skyrocket.) And we will all go to bed the night before the drawing knowing for sure that one of us is going to win a butt-ton of money.

And if you’d like to fool yourself into thinking that you are “doubling” your chances of winning by buying two tickets, feel free to send me four dollars. Just be aware that the mathematicians are laughing at you. (More than they were before.)

So, what do you say, intrepid gamblers of the forty-seven cool states? Let’s do this! Venmo me your two dollars and we’ll get this thing going.

One of us is about to be filthy, stinking rich!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Revolution Liz, 2021’s Weepy Mascot

Whelp, we all had high hopes for 2021. I mean, things were kinda looking up in December. England and Russia were starting to vaccinate people against COVID, and we had reports of our own vaccine that would soon be available to relatives of people high up in the Pfizer organization.

Then we watched New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, coming to you live from a completely deserted Times Square, and got the indication that 2021 might not be all we thought it was going to be.

JLo showed up on a stage full of random statues and pillars, to a crowd of yellow and purple beach balls. Standing thirty-four feet above the stage, she was a feather-covered bride on top of a giant feather-covered wedding cake. She was alone on top of the goose-down cake, because the groom had left her at the altar, presumably because she showed up to the ceremony wearing a homemade diamond encrusted hockey mask.

It went downhill from there.

Well, OK, technically that train wreck happened in 2020, so we’re still going to be good, right?

And then came January 6, 2021.

On January 6th we all found out that the security at our nation’s capital is on par with the security at a McDonald’s. A large group of very excited protesters turned into an angry mob and decided it would be fun to just walk into the Capitol. The Capitol, as in, the building where The Congress of the United States of America, the largest superpower on planet Earth, meets to make laws and vote on them and stuff.

It only took a few minutes for a bunch of people not authorized to be in the building to be in the building, actually interrupting and shutting down an actual session of Congress. The actual Congress of the United States of America.

What the actual hell? Can I just go sleep at the White House tonight if I want?

Speaking of the White House, Yahoo’s White House correspondent Hunter Walker was on the scene and interviewed a surprisingly dimwitted woman – our nation’s new revolutionary heroine (or perhaps heroin?), Elizabeth from Knoxville.

Hunter encountered this woman crying (understandably) and wiping her face with a towel outside the Capitol building during the riot.

“What happened to you?” asked Hunter.

“I got Maced!” replied the stylishly-dressed, red-faced and snotty (both literally and figuratively) woman. “I made it like a foot inside and they pushed me out and they Maced me.”

Then, presumably to make sure we all knew the name of our new national savior, she added, “My name is Elizabeth, I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee.”

When Hunter then asked Elizabeth from Knoxville why she had been trying to get into the building that she very clearly was not allowed to be in at the time, she responded, with a surprising amount of indignation in her voice, bordering on all-out participation trophy generation entitlement, “We’re storming the Capitol. It’s a revolution!”

So, just to be clear here, Elizabeth from Knoxville, you are upset that the man with the can of Mace didn’t like your revolution? Is that it? And hats off to you for the heads-up thinking to announce on camera that you just committed a federal crime, and then to give your first name and city of residence for good measure. I’m actually a little surprised you didn’t give us your Instagram handle, too.

“I’m Revolution Liz. Follow me in Insta! OMG, I love how my scarf actually still goes with my red Mace eyes! Revolutions are hard, guys, like, for real. OMG, I’m probably going to end up suing that Mace guy or something.”

Thanks for the wake-up call, Elizabeth. You’ve actually been a great help to your country. You’ve shown us that our nation’s seat of power has the security of Chuck E. Cheese, and we’ve raised a group of people who get personally offended if they happen to get Maced while actually attempting to actually overthrow the actual government of the actual United States of America. Holy crap!

Maybe they should have used an actual mace to get their point across to Elizabeth from Knoxville.

Who knows? Maybe a cop in riot gear swinging a giant heavy pole with spikes on the end might be the deterrent we need to help folks remember to not commit treason?

Apparently pepper spray and bullets just aren’t doing it anymore.

Looking forward to seeing what you have to offer, 2022!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

About the Author, 2021

Here at Just a Smidge, we continue to gain new readership each year. This past year alone we have documented as many as two new readers. So, for both of you just joining us, welcome! Let’s start the New Year with a little meet and greet, shall we?

Hi. I’m Marc Schmatjen, aka Smidge, and I’m the lone staff writer and head Totino’s pizza roll heater-upper here at Just a Smidge. Based on how much money I make writing this column, it would be inaccurate to call this my job, so let’s just go with “hobby.”

I am a forty-eight-year-old husband of one and father of three. My wife is an amazing woman who usually teaches math in a classroom to high school kids with a range of abilities, but this year is running Zoom calls with straight-A high school students asking them to turn their cameras back on and politely inquiring how they managed to do the test question the way Google does it instead of the way it was actually taught to them by her.

We have three boys, whom we affectionately refer to as Son Number One, Two, and Three. Two of them are teenagers and all three of them are loud and smelly and they eat a lot.

Anyway, enough about my wife and kids. Let’s talk more about me. Here are twenty other things that you should probably know about me, in no particular order:

1) I would be aging incredibly well if I were ten to fifteen years older than I am.

2) My grandfather killed General Patton's dog. That is the single most historically outstanding thing anyone in my family has done. We are a proud people.

3) Walking out into bright sunlight makes me sneeze. I am one of only an estimated seven people in the world with this disorder. We have a club. I inherited this trait from my grandmother, whose husband once killed General George Patton’s dog.

4) I am related to U.S. president Grover Cleveland on my maternal grandmother’s side, whose husband (my grandmother’s, not Grover Cleveland’s) - I believe I may have mentioned this - killed General George S. Patton’s beloved English bull terrier, Willie. I don't really care about being related to Grover Cleveland since he’s not Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy once got shot in the chest while leaving his hotel to give a speech. He continued on to the auditorium and gave an eighty-four-minute speech with a bullet in his ribs. Teddy was by far our coolest president.

5) A few of my literary heroes are Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Erma Bombeck, Michael Connelly, and Dave Barry. My grandfather did not kill any of their dogs, that I am aware of.

6) My once-fantastic eyesight is relaxing like a tired dad in a Barcalounger. My arms are not long enough to read small print anymore, or even the medium print. Also, every other part of my body aches.

7) As an author and a writer, I am not afraid to say that books of non-rhyming “poetry” with sentences like, “My mind is a seedless grape, grasping to comprehend the melancholy oration, drowning in a cacophony of humanity…” etc., are written by people who are too scared to attempt to write anything that is required to make sense.

8) My face is going numb. Why does this happen to men? You see old guys all the time eating dinner with food stuck to their faces. We just can’t feel it on there anymore. My chin is completely dead at this point.

9) My three favorite flavors are burnt pepperoni, slightly burnt bacon, and well-toasted sesame seeds. Basically, if it has caught on fire, I want to eat it. Except for my s’more marshmallows. Those should only be browned. (And they will end up stuck to my chin, where they will remain until my wife scolds me.)

10) I was in shape once. I swam 100,000 yards in one week when I was in high school. (That’s 57 miles, for you English majors). I could not swim more than 57 yards today without needing a floatation device, an oxygen tank, and a defibrillator. See number 11.

11) I love chocolate and bacon and I sit all day. See number 10.

12) I constantly get my left and right mixed up. This makes driving directions with my wife fun.

13) I am a recovering engineer, so I know there are only 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

14) My favorite joke of all time is: A guy walks into the psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but underwear made out of Saran wrap. The doctor takes one look at him and says, "Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts."

15) I like writing dialogue.

“You do?” they asked in unison.

“Yes. I do,” he said solemnly.

16) I like most foods (see number 10), but I have a deep, abiding hatred for cantaloupe. If bacon is a 10, cantaloupe is a negative 3000.

17) I love to travel and I love to stay home, but I don’t want an RV. Go figure.

18) My absolute favorite thing that has ever happened on this earth – and I am including my marriage and the birth of my children in that – was when the Oregon State Highway Division tried to disintegrate a dead whale with a half-ton of dynamite in 1970. I wasn’t around yet, but thankfully they had video cameras back then. (Just Google “Oregon Exploding Whale.”)

19) I hope to one day be in charge of detonating something as large as a dead whale, but so far, my wife has not let me.

20) I only type with three of my ten fingers, so this is all very impressive, if you stop and think about it.

So, there you have it, folks. You now know everything you need to know about me. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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