Wednesday, December 28, 2022

2022, An Expensive Year in Review

Well, what a year, huh? Was 2022 a good year? Yes. Was it a bad year? Yes. I think at this point, we’re all just a little dazed and wondering what the hell just happened. Let’s recap, shall we?


Unlike the mini attempted coup of the U.S. government that we began 2021 with, 2022 starts with some good news. On January 10th the first successful heart transplant from a pig to a human patient takes place in Baltimore, Maryland. Phil Krazinski, the pig heart recipient, is quoted in the recovery room as saying, “They put a what in me? I thought they said a big heart.”

Australia thinks they have pulled a fast one after deporting the world’s number one tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, just ahead of the Australian Open due to his COVID vaccination status. In his health survey, Djokovic apparently checked the box marked “I’m over twelve years old, and therefore medically independent under HIPAA rules, so you can kiss my ass.” Unfortunately, Australia’s hopes for a home team victory are dashed when some fully-vaccinated foreigner named Nadal wins instead.

Cryptocurrency has a wild year. Bitcoin – the world’s most popular and stable of the completely unstable, based-on-absolutely-nothing, make-believe cryptocurrencies – starts January down a whopping 50% from its high in October of 2021. One piece of Bitcoin is only worth $38,000 at the start of the year. However, that’s up 39,900% from its value of $95 in 2013, which makes sense, because Bitcoin’s value has gone up because it went up in value, based on its overall value increasing, due to valuation.



The 2022 Winter Olympics commences in Beijing, China, making Beijing the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. All the major governments of the world decided to give it to them, in exchange for continuing to manufacture of all our cheap crap on Amazon, despite the fact that Beijing is a terrible place to have the Winter Olympics, because they get one inch of snow every three years. Those crazy kids make it work, though, managing to rack up another “first” along the way. The 2022 Winter Olympics is the first time all the ski and snowboard events are held on a mountain of Styrofoam and plastic chips instead of actual snow.

The biggest breakthrough in fusion energy since 1997 is reported at the Joint European Torus in Oxford, England. They apparently produced 59 megajoules over five seconds, which is 11 megawatts of power, and more than doubled the previous record. This had the whole world asking the same question – watt did you guys do, and why did you use a Torus? A Ferrari seems like it would have been a cooler choice.

Gas prices begin to rise in February, with grim predictions for a stop to the increases, causing the whole world to ask, “When will that Torus fusion thing be ready?”

Russia declares war on Ukraine. Russian Self-Elected President Vladimir Putin is interviewed while signing the declaration of war, saying, “This is not a declaration of anything at all. Especially not war. I’m just filling out my grocery list.”



In an emergency session, United Nations member states pass a resolution deploring Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for the immediate withdrawal of its forces. In response, Putin is quoted as saying, “Those guys are adorable.”

The US and UK announce a ban on Russian oil, while the European Union takes an even firmer stance, announcing a two-thirds reduction in its demand for Russian gas. Reportedly, not a single leader from the US, UK, or EU ever once says, “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t be relying on getting our really critical stuff from countries run by total psychos.”

Researchers in the Antarctic announce they have found The Endurance, one of the greatest undiscovered shipwrecks ever, which sank in 1915. The skipper, intrepid Irish adventurer and explorer Ernest Shackleton, is found treading water above the wreck, chewing on a piece of seal blubber. Upon seeing the researchers, he is quoted as saying, “Jolly good show, gents. Glad you could make it. I’d love a glass of whiskey if you happen to have one.”



Elon Musk buys nine percent of Twitter on the open stock market, causing millions of investors to ask, “Is there a closed stock market you’re not telling us about?” Musk then offers to buy Twitter outright for six gazillion dollars, or four Bitcoin. Twitter employees publicly freak out about it, mostly on Facebook, citing concerns about losing their relaxed, three-hour workweek.

Global food prices increase to their highest level since the UN's Food Price Index began in 1990. To put that in layman’s terms, one non-medical-grade pig heart now costs three Bitcoin.

The Russian flagship Moskva becomes the largest warship to be sunk in action since World War II. Ukraine claims to have nailed it with Neptune anti-ship missiles, while Putin claims, “It did not sink. It’s a submarine. We just didn’t tell you.”

Average gas prices in the US reach $4.50/ounce.

The Large Hadron Collider recommences full operations, after being down for three years for upgrades. The first two things to be collided are a Torus and a Ferrari.

The European Union accuses Russia of blackmail after gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria are halted by Russian energy giant Gazprom. Putin is quoted as saying, “I mean, those guys are just adorable! Adorable, I say!”



Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase is put on hold due to a discrepancy in the reported number of bots operating on the platform, and the unfortunate dip in Bitcoin’s value. One Bitcoin is now worth seventy-five cents.

Vladimir Putin is interviewed while literally shooting a shoulder-fired missile across the border into Ukraine, saying, “This? This is not missile. It’s rocket-propelled tennis ball. I’m playing fetch with my dog. Dog very fast.”

Tens of people tune into the annual Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy. In what is clearly a pity vote, the winner is Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra with their song "Stefania," which literally translates to “Swine Heart.”



Canada and Denmark finally end their competing claims for Hans Island by dividing the island roughly in half, ending what was referred to as the Whisky War. The residents of Hans Island respond by saying, “Like hell this is over! Send more whiskey!”

On the only day since February that worked for everyone’s schedule, G7 leaders meet for a summit in Germany to discuss the situation in Ukraine. A ban on imports of Russian gold is announced. “Just so damned adorable!” was Russia’s official response.

Bitcoin rebounds from $0.75 to $78,000.



The 2022 World Games are held in Birmingham, Alabama, prompting the world to ask, “What are the World Games?”

The first operational image from the James Webb Space Telescope is revealed to the public, showing a really, really close-up view of Novak Djokovic flipping off Australia.

The European Central Bank raises its key interest rate for the first time in more than eleven years, from minus 0.5 percent to six Bitcoins.

Average gas prices in the US reach $8.00/dram.



Vladimir Putin is interviewed while literally driving a tank into the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and shooting at a building. He can be heard saying, “What? This is just my car. I’m remodeling my apartment. Where is Ukraine, anyway? Never heard of it.”

China conducts its largest ever military exercise around Taiwan in response to a controversial visit by Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since the 1990s. Elon Musk came with her and offered to buy Taiwan if the Twitter thing fell through.

Gasoline is officially tied to the price of Bitcoin, and rises to an average price of $46,000/gallon.



The G7 leaders finally wrap up their June summit and spa retreat and agree to impose a price cap on Russian petroleum exports. Putin responds with a heart and a hug emoji.

Queen Elizabeth II dies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96. After a royal drawing of the straws, her son Charles III succeeds her as King. Prince Andrew could not be located to give a statement. At a ceremony at St. James's Palace in London, Charles III is officially proclaimed King of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth realms, which entitles him to an $8.50 raise and all the fish and chips he can eat.

The state funeral of Elizabeth II is held in Westminster Abbey, London. The funeral is speculated to be the most watched television event in world history, which angers Vladimir Putin.

In retaliation for the world’s insolence, Putin threatens nuclear action against Ukraine, saying, "This is not a bluff,” only he said it in Russian, so it sounded totally different.

Shortly afterward, NASA's DART crashes into the asteroid Dimorphos in the first test of potential planetary defense, leading many to ask the obvious question, “Why didn’t we just aim that thing at Putin?”

Hurricane Ian slams into the eastern United States and Cuba, causing catastrophic damage and leaving millions without power, including the entire nation of Cuba. But let’s be honest – the week prior, someone ran a moped into a light pole and left the entire nation of Cuba without power, so that’s a tough one to measure.



OPEC, hearing that global gas prices were hurting the average family, helpfully imposes a production cut of up to 2 million barrels per day. Banks begin mortgage programs for gas fill-ups, with convenient at-pump loan approvals.

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is held. Xi Jinping is elected as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party by the Central Committee, beginning a third term as the paramount leader of China. And by “elected,” we mean in the most open, transparent, and legitimate of ways. Thank you, Supreme Exalted General Secretary Jinping, for continuing to bless the world with your inexpensive and incredibly well-made products.

Elon Musk completes his 34-Bitcoin acquisition of Twitter. Taiwan is thrown in as a bonus. Twitter employees find out they have to actually start working. Many at McDonald’s.

Vladimir Putin expands invasion plans to include Taiwan, Westminster Abbey, Twitter headquarters, and Cuba, as long as they’re still without power, which is a safe bet.



Elon Musk abandons Twitter’s blue checkmark verification system and simply makes the blue checkmark available to anyone for $7.99. Thirty-three people are the checkmark-verified Elon Musk within the first ten minutes.

The world population reaches 8 billion. Supreme Exalted General Secretary Jinping (blue checkmark) tweets, “You’re welcome.”

NASA launches Artemis 1, an uncrewed vessel, and if you read that as unscrewed, you’re not alone. Artemis 1 is the most powerful rocket ever launched into orbit – a full twice as powerful as Artemis 1/2. It will orbit the Moon in a slingshot trajectory before returning to Earth with a planned impact point at an undisclosed location somewhere near Vladimir Putin’s office.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar, which everyone agreed was dumb because they don’t serve beer in Qatar. Not to mention, Phil Krazinski was denied entry to the country on religious grounds. The United States started the tournament with two very exciting ties of 1-1 and 0-0, reminding Americans why we don’t watch soccer the rest of the year.

FIFA bans Russia from all soccer competitions, including the World Cup. FIFA also bans the world’s number one tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, just to be safe. Convinced that free nations have finally done enough, all news channels promptly forget about Ukraine.



Just in time for the Christmas season, gas prices begin to ease back to the level that we would have had a conniption fit about, had they not just been double the current ridiculously high price two months ago.

Elon Musk polls Twitter users to ask if he should step down. It is a resounding yes, and he will comply. As soon as he finds a suitable replacement, he will step down as the president of Taiwan, but he will retain ownership.

The National Ignition Facility, which may or may not be located near the Joint European Torus, achieves fusion ignition – apparently a major milestone in the development of nuclear fusion power, or so they tell us. We remain skeptical since we all still have to buy insanely expensive gas. C’mon fellas! We’ve got a pig’s heart beating inside Phil Krazinski’s chest. How hard can it be to get fusion into a Torus?

Argentina ends up winning the World Cup final on penalty kicks, making Americans wonder, once again, why isn’t the whole game just penalty kicks? That part is actually exciting.

Bitcoin ends the year worth one sixteenth of a Taiwan.


Can’t wait to see what 2023 brings us. Have a happy New Year, y’all.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The 2022 Do-it-Yourself Christmas Letter

You’ve done it to yourself again, haven’t you? It’s December 21st and you haven’t even started to write your annual Christmas letter yet, have you? You’re out of time, out of patience, and for three years now, you’ve been close to being out of toilet paper.  

Sure, just like our hopes for the future, things look bleak. But have no Christmas fear! While I can’t do anything about your toilet paper situation or your Aunt Ethel’s impending fruitcake delivery, I can certainly help in the communications department.

The 2022 DIY Christmas letter is here, just for you.

So, pour yourself another glass of mommy and daddy’s special holiday cheer, grab a #2 pencil, and start bubbling in the appropriate choices. You’re all set.

No need to thank me. It’s just what I do.


Christmas 2022


O   friends and cherished loved ones,

O   relatives,

O   people from work,

O   people I don’t know on this list my spouse handed me,

Merry Christmas from the

O   Smith

O   Gonzalez

O   Lee

O   Johnson

O   Other _______________




We can’t believe

O   how time flies.

O   winter is here again so soon.

O   how surprisingly lame this year has been.

O   we have to send this damned letter to so many of you.


What a year! We

O   are so blessed.

O   are, we must admit, a little tired.

O   are relieved it’s finally over.

O   seriously need to just sell the kids and move to an island.


2022 started with

O   joy in our hearts

O   a ridiculous amount of snow and ice

O   anxiety

O   a whole lotta mood-altering substances


and is ending with

O   gratitude and peace.

O   even more *%@#&$ snow.

O   dread.

O   jail time, most likely.


Dad can’t seem to

O   sit still,

O   stop complaining,

O   snap out of his funk,

O   put a cork in it,


and he

O   continues to volunteer at the church and the shelter.

O   won’t shut up about gas prices.

O   lives in his pajamas.

O   was on a bender and MIA at least half the year.


Mom hasn’t

O   lost a step

O   lifted a finger around the house

O   shut up

O   been seen


since her

O   record-breaking hip replacement recovery time.

O   epic hangnail incident.

O   lottery numbers were “only three away” from the “big money.”

O   parole officer reported her for not checking in this summer.


Sister lives

O   near us now.

O   day to day.

O   on borrowed time.

O   above a strip club.



O   moved back with her family for a big promotion.

O   pretends to be holding it together, but a relapse is obviously coming.

O   is five states away, and that still doesn’t seem far enough.

O   was named employee of the month at Big Tony’s Gentlemen’s Club and Laundromat.


Brother is

O   switching parenting roles with his wife and staying home with the kids

O   never too far from the couch

O   making one bad decision after another

O   spiraling out of control


while his

O   wife continues to climb the ladder at her amazing job.

O   unemployment checks continue to roll in.

O   bookie keeps contacting us regarding his whereabouts.

O   childhood hopes and dreams slowly circle the giant toilet bowl of life.


The grandkids just keep growing

O   up

O   outward

O   bolder

O   weed


and we wish

O   we could slow time down somehow to enjoy it all a little longer.

O   they would lay off the McCrap and eat a vegetable every once in a while.

O   their parents would actually discipline their insolent little butts.

O   the court system would be tougher on minors.


We hope this letter finds you

O   thriving and loving life

O   before Christmas

O   relatively sober



this year, and we want to

O   extend our warmest holiday wishes to you and yours.

O   let you know we are still alive, despite what you may have heard.

O   make sure we keep in touch, so we have a “what not to do” example for the kids.

O   be done writing now.


If you ever find yourself in town,

O   please come by, we’d love to see you!

O   don’t hesitate to let us know you were here.

O   just remember, we’re away a lot.

O   I’ll bet you’ll be wondering how you got here, you lush!

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


You’re welcome. Now just sign, copy and send. You’re all set.

See you soon,




Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen



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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Take the Elf off the Shelf

We are eleven days from Christmas, and if you’re like many of our sad, pathetic Ask Smidge readers, you’ve been moving a little toy elf named Pumpernickel or Frostbite around the house for at least fourteen damn days now.

Perhaps you were even foolish enough to get a pair of them, and you’re forced to come up with wacky elf pair ideas each night.

Or perhaps, you don’t have an Elf on the Shelf yet, but you’re kids have been bugging you and you’re contemplating the idea.

Maybe you’ve dodged multiple bullets and have no idea what an Elf on the Shelf is or what I’m even talking about.

Well, have no fear! Our inbox has been overflowing with Elf on the Shelf-related questions, and as always, we have all your answers.





We’ve held off getting an Elf on the Shelf ever since our kids were born, but now our oldest is in kindergarten and hears about the other kids’ elves all the time. Should we cave in and get one?

Undecided in Union City


Dear Undecided,

Each family needs to weigh the pros and cons of these types of holiday tradition decisions for themselves, because each family is special and unique, but there is no way in hell you should ever get an Elf on the Shelf. Never, under any circumstances. It’s like twenty-five-plus days of having to remember the tooth fairy, but much more annoying and involved. Move your children to a new school or move your family to a new town if you need to.





I’ve heard the term “Elf on the Shelf” before, but I must confess, I don’t know what it is. Can you explain?

Lost in London


Dear Lost,

We’re not 100% sure if it was intended to be a harmless children’s book before it became a gigantic commercial time and money suck, or if it was diabolically planned from the beginning to invade every home in the free world and ruin Christmas, but that is essentially what it is. Hope that helps.  





My husband and I are running out of ideas for what to do with Popcorn, our Elf on the Damned Shelf. He’s already pulled every toilet paper and kitchen cooking prank we could think of, and quite frankly, we’re getting tired of cleaning up his messes. Besides, inflation is killing our family budget. We can’t afford to be wasting toilet paper and food anymore. My husband has searched for new lower-cost, lower-mess ideas on the internet, but none of them are exactly appropriate for children. Please help.

Empty in El Segundo


Dear Empty,

My advice would be to have Popcorn leave a nice note with a candy cane for each kid stating that Santa needed him back at the North Pole permanently due to a horrific industrial accident with the machine that clamps both sides of the Etch a Sketches together, and the resulting multiple-elf shortage on the assembly line. Viola’! No more Elf on the Shelf to deal with, and the kids are happy because they received a plausible explanation and a candy cane.





Our eight-year-old son was on TikTok and saw a compilation video of some less-than-appropriate Elf on the Shelf scenarios, including an Elf passed out with a Barbie doll and surrounded by empty beer cans, and an Elf “refilling” the See’s candy sampler, if you get my drift. What should we do?

Blindsided in Buffalo


Dear Blindsided,

Just explain to your son the unfortunate truth that some elves aren’t as good and wholesome as other elves. You can let him know that it’s not their fault. Their elf parents probably just let them indiscriminately surf the internet on apps like TikTok when they were eight years old, and that’s why they ended up bad. Cheers!





I have completely blown it. We had so much going on this weekend with family coming into town and crazy holiday shopping emergencies, etc., that I forgot to move Cupcake for three days! Our little girl never said anything to me, but I found her this morning looking up at the hanging light fixture over our dining room table crying. Cupcake has been hanging upside down from one of the lights since Thursday morning, and my daughter wanted to know if she was OK. What should I tell her? Please help!

Heartbroken in Hoboken


Dear Heartbroken,

No problem. Just let your daughter know that sometimes when little boys and girls don’t live up to their potential and disappoint their parents, their elves refuse to move. That’s a two-fer! You’re off the hook for accidentally neglecting your Elf duties, and your daughter will surely be trying a little harder in all her endeavors. You’re welcome.




Well, there you have it, folks. All your vital Elf on the Shelf questions answered and all your crises averted. You’re welcome.

Have a fabulous (and hopefully Elf-free) Christmas!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

An Open Letter to Best Foods

Dear Best Foods,

I really want to thank you for providing me with a brand new life experience recently. I’m fifty now, so my new life experiences these days mostly revolve around a different joint becoming painful, pulling a new muscle getting up out of a low chair, or messages from my doctor about my colon.

But you provided me with a new and far less uncomfortable life experience the other day.

You mailed me a condiment.

I’m just writing to let you know that’s a really weird thing to do.

I received a plain white padded envelope in the mail, with absolutely no markings on it except my address and the return address, which was listed as “SOPOST, 14 Henderson Drive, West Caldwell, NJ.”

What is SOPOST? You guys are lucky I opened it. If it wasn’t Christmastime, I probably would have tossed it, but you never know what my wife has purchased this time of year. I sure as heck wasn’t going to be the one responsible for Grandma’s stocking coming up short on Christmas morning, so I looked inside.

Imagine my surprise to find one single fast-food-size packet of your new Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing hot-glued to a postcard with a picture of a chicken sandwich on it.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you – the chicken sandwich and fries pictured on the card look amazing. And from what I can tell from the photo, you seem to think your new Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing goes well as a sandwich spread and as a fry dipping sauce.

That may very well be true, but how am I supposed to tell? You sent me exactly 0.47 fluid ounces of your new sauce. I’m a full-grown man with three large and still growing teenage boys. None of us has ever used just one fast-food-size packet of any condiment on anything we’ve ever eaten.

I mean, I put four packets of hot sauce on each one of my Taco Bell crunchy tacos. My boys ask for an entire separate bag filled with Chick-fil-A sauce cups to go with their chicken and fries. Those things hold way more than 0.47 ounces, and they go through them all.

This is America, Best Foods, as you can tell by both the To: and From: addresses on your weird plain white padded envelope. We love our sauces here in America, and you should know that better than anyone. How are you expecting me to get excited about your amazing new spicy mayo when you send me basically one drop of it? I’m going to run out before I’m halfway through my first bite of chicken.

If you want to market your new sauce with free samples to a house full of American men, you’d best be sending us the 11.5-ounce bottle sitting next to the chicken sandwich in the picture. I mean, have you ever even seen a teenager eat? Suffice it to say, keep your hands and feet away from their mouths at all times. At the rate the food enters their bodies, I’m amazed they taste any of it. You have to have a lot of sauce on there to get any kind of reaction out of them.

And speaking of my boys and your marketing department – if you really want to sell this stuff, don’t send me a single packet all the way across the country in an unmarked envelope like a bunch of weirdos. Get with the times. Pay an influencer on YouTube or TikTok to rave about how amazing your sauce is. That’s how you market to kids, and they’re the ones inhaling all the sauces around here anyway.

You are welcome for the condiment-ary advice,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the debate rages around the yule log, merry and bright – is it eggnog or egg nog? One word or two?

While you argue amongst yourselves, I thought I’d share my foolproof recipe for this traditional holiday beverage.


6 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups milk

2 whole cloves

Pinch cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (lightly packed)

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

Your favorite bourbon whiskey


Gather together all the ingredients except the bourbon, and find a large saucepan. Throw all of the gathered ingredients into the trash and use the saucepan to defend yourself against anyone attempting to give you eggnog. Pour the bourbon over ice and enjoy with or without regular Coca-Cola. Your choice!

Eggnog, as the name explicitly states, contains eggs as a primary ingredient. You are not Rocky Balboa. Eggs are not a beverage. They are meant to be eaten with bacon and used to make cookies and cakes. They are basically snot until cooked, and therefore it should be obvious to anyone not to drink them.

Eggnog was invented long ago during a horrific drought and ensuing bourbon shortage, by some very poor, very uneducated peasants. They got bored with the straight cows’ milk and did something unspeakable – added raw eggs to it.

When the drought was over and people heard about what they had done, they tried to save face by pretending it was a good idea and adding bourbon to make it a “festive” holiday drink. In reality, they were just trying to get drunk and forget they were drinking eggs.

Let’s not perpetuate this horrible mistake onto another unsuspecting generation. Stop the madness. Keep your children safe. Tell them to just say no to nogs of any kind.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Ask Smidge – The Turkey Edition - Repost

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and if you’re like most of our Ask Smidge readers, you’re just now trying to figure out what to do. That big, fancy meal isn’t going to cook itself, and you have no idea what you’re doing. 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. We’re here to help, after all.)




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 or without a life-threatening oil fire. Your choice.

Have a tasty Thanksgiving!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Band Together to Lose

With the college and pro football seasons in full swing, and Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to look back on a historic gridiron moment and give thanks that we weren’t part of the band.

November 20, 2022 will be the 40th anniversary of The Play at the end of The Big Game.

If you are unfamiliar, I’m not being generic or randomly capitalizing words like I normally do. The Big Game is one of the oldest college rivalries in the United States, which began in 1892 right here in the Golden State, when Stanford University played Cal Berkeley for the first time.

No one wore helmets or shoes, and the ball was not just pigskin – it was a live pig. The final score was Cal at a half pence and Stanford at a quarter shilling. It was a jolly-good contest!

The rules and scoring have been refined over the years, but The Big Game lives on. The 125th Big Game is this Saturday, November 19th. Home field swaps each year, and it’s an even year, so the game will be at Cal, as it was on that fateful day in 1982.

The Cal Bears led 19-17 in the final minutes of the 85th Big Game, but at the end of the fourth quarter, the Stanford Cardinal (named after a pine tree, of course) mounted an impressive comeback.  

Starting from their own 13-yard-line, on a dismal 4th and 17, Stanford, led by THE John Elway himself, drove all the way down the field to kick a go-ahead field goal with only four seconds left on the clock.

I’m not sure why Cal had been ahead at all, because having John Elway was a clear advantage for the Cardinal since he was already the quarterback for the Denver Broncos at the time. He was just back in town visiting family over the Thanksgiving break.

Be that as it may, with what should have been the final score of Cal 19 – Stanford 20 up on the scoreboard, Stanford kicked off to run out the remaining four seconds on the clock, and so began, The Play.

The Cal Bears recovered the short kick and were immediately swarmed by the Stanford special teams defense. The Stanford special teams marching band was behind them, waiting patiently behind the end zone for the clock to say 0:00.

When the four seconds of regular time had expired, the Stanford special teams marching band proceeded jubilantly onto the field in a very disorderly fashion to celebrate their “win.”

The only problem was that the game was still going because the Bears were busy lateraling the ball backward. Three laterals later, the Cal Bears were inside a protective swarm of Stanford band members, many of whom were providing some of the necessary Cardinal-on-Cardinal blocking for the Bears players to pull off two more miraculous laterals and steamroll into the end zone for a touchdown.

Gary Tyrrell, a Stanford trombone player, was the Cardinal’s last line of defense, but he and his instrument were absolutely leveled in the end zone at the conclusion of the miraculous drive. As KGO radio’s Joe Starkey had an on-air aneurism, the scoreboard was changed to Cal 25 – Stanford 20, and so concluded what Joe hailed as "the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!!" right before he dropped to the ground like Gary Tyrrell and his trombone.

So, as you enjoy The Big Game this Saturday, remember to give thanks. Give thanks that you weren’t one of those band members, or one of those Stanford players that was blocked by a member of their own band.

And also remember the important lesson that Trombone Tyrrell taught us all that day – if you’re going to go out on the field to help, at least learn how to tackle.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

No Time to Change - Repost

This column was originally posted on March 16th of this year, when we once again changed the clocks for “Daylight Saving Time.” We reverted back to “Standard Time” over the weekend, and we’re all screwed up again. Night now officially begins around lunchtime.

Enjoy the column again as a reminder that we need to keep the pressure on Washington. If they can pull through for us, by this time next year we really could be done with this madness.


It is entirely possible that the federal government is about to do something that I will like. That rarely happens. And by rarely, I mean never.

I have been saying for my entire adult life that we have enough laws. We have far too many, actually, since there are laws about what kind of light bulbs I can have in my house and how much water is allowed to be in my toilet.

I have also been saying that the federal government should be part time and be paid accordingly. Career politicians are THE problem with any government, and if we could just make it so the lawmakers had to have two or three jobs to support themselves and their families, we would actually get some hardworking, sensible people in there. But alas, no such luck.

There is one more law that needs to be written however, before we drastically revamp how Washington works, and it appears as if it might just be happening now. I am, of course, referring to the abolition of twice-yearly “daylight saving” time changes.

No one likes changing the clocks. Whomever came up with the idea was a complete psycho, and we were (and are) complete morons for continuing to go along it. Our kids get up waaaay too early in November and we need a pneumatic jackhammer to get them out of bed in March. It’s a gigantic pain in my ass having to remember how many clocks I own (garage sprinkler timer, I’m looking at you), not to mention trying to remember how to set the clock on our overly complicated car stereo. But most notably, it messes with my wife’s sleepy time, which is hazardous to everyone’s health.

In short, it’s dangerous and it sucks.

But now, there might be an “extra” hour of sunlight at the end of the long, dark time change tunnel. An unprecedentedly bipartisan bill has passed through the senate this week that would get rid of clock changes nationwide. Currently, it’s a state-by-state decision whether or not to change the clocks, which makes even less sense than changing the clocks in the first place.

I mean, we already have time zones, which although obviously necessary, are still confusing. Just think about those poor people who live and work near the time zone line. If you lived right on the line, how would you ever know store hours, or what time practice starts. How would you ever plan anything?

“I’ll see you at three o’clock.”

“Which three o’clock?”

What if you lived in one time zone and worked in another? That’s my idea of what hell would be like. So, why have we allowed individual states to further complicate things by not changing their clocks when the rest of us had to? It’s absolute madness.

The chaos could be coming to an end on November 20, 2023. The bill – which in true government megalomaniac fashion, they have named the “Sunshine Protection Act,” as if our benevolent leaders on Capitol Hill are somehow actually shepherding the sun for us – would keep the entire country on what we just changed to – Daylight Saving Time.

We can’t just stay on DST now and never touch the clocks again, because airlines and other transportation entities apparently don’t know how to use computers. But if the bill passes – and so help me, House of Representatives, it better – we would only have to endure one more set of ridiculous clock manipulations before everything will finally be logical again.

That is, unless the Association of Early Morning Winter Joggers or some other such group has a powerful, monied lobby. Then the career politicians may be swayed by a series of generous donations to their wife’s brother’s various non-profit organizations, and vote poorly.

I mean, no politician in Washington is dumb enough to actually want to continue changing our clocks, right?


I’ll be here holding my breath.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Team Ibuprofen

Son Number One is a high school senior this year, and last Tuesday night we attended what we thought was his last water polo game. He has been a Whitney High School goalie for four years now, and we have thoroughly enjoyed watching him play.

What we didn’t know last Tuesday was that he would play one more game last night. We were informed that the team was hosting a final scrimmage of the season.

Against the parents.

Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t sound like a great idea. That might be fun for a soccer team or a basketball team. I mean, sure, there are always going to be parental injuries in something like that, but water polo might be the only high school sport where inviting the parents to a fun scrimmage against their children is legitimately life-threatening.

Well, I thought, at least two of the kids on the team, my son included, are certified lifeguards, and the coaches have CPR training. Plus, they have those portable defibrillators at the pool. We might avoid a tragedy.

A few of the dads were really excited about the game. I was more than a little hesitant. My wife called me yesterday morning and asked if I was looking forward to it.

“Well,” I said. “Sorta, I guess.”

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“Nothing, really. It will be fun to play against the boys and everything, but it’s just that it’s going to hurt. A lot.”

You see, I played water polo in high school and college. None of the other parents did. Some were wary. Some were full of hope. They were looking forward to it. I, on the other hand, knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.

I was probably twenty-two years old in my last polo game. I’m fifty now. I’ve been out of the water longer than I was in it. That’s not a recipe for success. Plus, I’m fifty. Fifty is not young. Not by water polo standards. Not by any standard, really.

Did I mention I was fifty? Well, we hit the water last night and I was just praying not to pull my groin. It was cold and damp outside which didn’t help much. At least the high school kids didn’t have to worry about their arthritis acting up.

At the end of the first quarter the score was a fairly respectable 6-2. It was a low scoring second quarter, ending at 8-3. Things cranked up in the third and we started the fourth quarter with a score of 13-4. When it was all said and done, the scoreboard said 15-8.

Parents 15, players 8.

Yeah, you heard me. We crushed them!

At this point I should probably mention that the parent team was given a huge gift a few days before the game – Whitney high school alumni. We had four former players – now college water polo players – show up to help us.

They were a great help. And by great help, I mean they absolutely carried our team. I think the dads accounted for two or possibly three of our goals. The college kids scored the other twelve or thirteen. And if a dad scored, there was most definitely an assist by a college kid.

And they were suffocating on defense. The high schoolers only hope of scoring on us was being guarded by a dad. And when I say “guarded,” I mean swimming next to someone who was in the process of drowning.

We basically kept the college kids in and rotated the dads on every score change. We had guys calling for subs and paddling to the side of the pool while the ball was still live because they had a cramp, or just couldn’t breathe anymore.

Both my calves cramped up during the game. Mercifully, not at the same time. I was playing goalie, and was able to massage the knots out while the college kids were down at the other end scoring again.

In order to keep from destroying the poor little lads, we played mostly dads in the fourth quarter. The one or two college kids in with us still kept things under control, but the high schoolers were scoring on me at will if they were near a dad. After twenty plus minutes of water polo already, whatever gas we had in the tanks was long gone.

I was completely underwater for at least two of the goals they scored on me. In my defense, I’m fifty and had calf cramping issues. I also nearly drown one of the seniors when there was a loose ball in front of my goal. But again, in my defense, he’s one of the lifeguards and he should have known better than to get near me.

The boys didn’t get the win they were so sure was in the bag before the game, but they did learn two valuable lessons. First, they will get bigger, faster, and stronger in college. Second, never get close to a drowning full-grown man. We are desperate, and we will take you down with us.

Thankfully, along with the win, all the parents left the pool in their own cars and not on a stretcher. That, in itself, is a big win. But it wasn’t without a cost.

Everything hurts.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Scary Big

There is a disturbing new trend happening with Halloween the last few years. And, no, not my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup-induced weight gain. That has been a disturbing trend for many years now.

I’m talking about the size of the yard decorations. Specifically, the newly popular twelve-foot-tall skeletons. Twelve feet tall! For you math folks out there, that’s a full six feet taller than a standard six-foot-tall skeleton!

Home Depot also sells a fifteen-foot “Towering Animatronic Phantom” and a twelve-foot hovering witch. If you’re looking for something in a reasonable size, they also carry a nine-and-a-half-foot-tall werewolf.

This trend toward larger front yard decorations is disturbing on two separate levels. The first is cost. Have you priced these damn things? The ridiculously tall skeletons are three hundred bucks! It’s a skeleton. By definition, that’s the most stripped-down version of a body you can buy, and it’s still three bills. That’s insane.

The only thing you should be spending that kind of money on at Halloween is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And I’ll need your address, please.

The second disturbing aspect of this new trend is storage. I realize you decorated your yard for Halloween in late August, but that still leaves roughly ten months of the year you have to store these things. And no, leaving the huge skeleton up after October 31st and putting a Santa hat on it, trying to pass it off as a Christmas decoration, is not socially acceptable behavior. (This actually happened across the street from our friends’ house. I am not making that up.)

I’m sure the twelve-foot skeleton breaks down a little bit, but that’s still a good-sized bag of bones you have to stash somewhere. And let’s be serious – no one owns just the big skeleton. If you shelled out three hundred bucks for one of those bad boys, you also have seven normal size skeletons worshiping it at its feet, the werewolf, and a full graveyard.

Where do you store it all?? Since you spent so much on the decorations, do you just go all-the-way-crazy and rent a year-round storage space for it all? Or have you figured out some insane garage storage hack that I don’t know about?

We don’t even really have Halloween stuff to speak of, but between our multiple freezers that hold all the burger patties and chicken nuggets for the three teenage boys, a few tools, and my wife’s Christmas decorations, I’ve got a three-car garage that just barely fits one of our cars.

Please, tell me your secrets!

Happy Halloween, y’all. Stay safe, give freely with the peanut butter cups to support hard-working dads, and most importantly, take the giant skeletons down on November 1st.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Financial Fitness?

People like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman talk about the obvious benefits of “financial fitness” all the time. I’ve noticed, however, that no one ever talks about the literal, physical aspect of that term. The detrimental finances of fitness.

We have three teenage boys, and they are all athletic, so naturally they eat a lot. This didn’t come as a shock to us. We even had a cautionary tale from my mom about my senior year in high school. My two older sisters had left home for college, but my mom reported that year was her highest food bill year ever, with just one of us left in the house.

How can you tell if a teenage boy is sleeping? He’s not eating.

Son Number Two, however, has taken this teenage boy eating thing to another level. To heavily paraphrase a Garfield T-shirt I saw once: He’s into fitness. Fitness whole side of the fridge into his mouth.

Number Two bought himself a gym membership last year, and he pre-paid for an entire year because that was the best deal. It’s a relatively inexpensive gym, but it was still a sizeable chunk of money for a teenager to put down. We talked it over with him, then let him make the decision. I figured at worst it would be a good financial lesson to learn.

It has been a good financial lesson – for the gym. They are learning that if they offer my son a one-year, prepaid membership, he can go to the gym often enough to make it only cost about two cents per visit. Sorry, Crunch Fitness, you blew that one.

It doesn’t seem to matter what his day consisted of, he will end it at the gym. He goes to a two-hour lacrosse conditioning workout, and then heads straight to the gym for at least an hour afterwards. He’s a crazy person.

As you can imagine, he requires quite a bit of food. I did too, at his age, but here’s the difference - I never cared what I ate. I just wanted a lot of it. He’s following weightlifters and fitness instructors on social media and so now I have at least one teenager who wants specific food. Mostly protein.

I’m still lobbying congress for the inclusion of nachos on the healthy eating pyramid, so I tend to kinda zone out when he starts taking about macronutrients and grams of something or other per scoop of protein powder.

Here’s what I do know, though. Protein is expensive!

It was expensive before gas was ten dollars per ounce. Now it’s just insane. Combine that with the sheer amount he’s eating, and not even a 9-1-1 call to Warren Buffett could help us now.

The Costco bag of chocolate protein powder costs more than the set of tires I bought in high school for my Jeep. Add to that the two Costco rotisserie chickens he wanted for “this week,” that will only last him three or four days. And you’ve seen the Costco chickens. They’re the size of adolescent turkeys. They make grocery store rotisserie chickens look like someone oven-roasted a parakeet.

The other night I was cooking dinner on the stove – literally fifteen minutes before dinnertime – and he was standing beside me, frying up six eggs in a pan on the next burner.

“Just a quick pre-dinner snack, Dad.”

Fifteen minutes later, he ate a full dinner, went to the gym, and had a six more eggs and a thirty-seven-dollar protein shake when he got home.

I love my boys and everything, but I’m kinda looking forward to when all three of them are in college at the same time. Even with the skyrocketing cost of tuition, it still has to be cheaper than this.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, October 12, 2022

reCAPTCHA a Rabbit

Have you ever wondered how the CAPTCHA tests got started, or why they are so ridiculous, or even what CAPTCHA means?

Yeah, me neither, until the other day.

Turns out, CAPTCHA tests were invented to aid in the digitization of books. When the scanning picked up a word that the computer didn’t recognize, the software would send out two words to be verified – a control word, like “word” or “control,” along with the word in question.

Who did these words get sent to? You and me. Every time we had to type in those two words that had some random wavy line running through them when we were trying to buy something on the interwebs, we were unwittingly helping a computer accurately convert books to digital form.

If enough of us typed in the second word the same way, the computer would assume it was valid and use it in the book. Fun, huh?

So, what does CAPTCHA mean? Glad you asked. Apparently, it’s a contrived acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."

What is a Turing test, you are probably asking now, like I was when I looked up what CAPTCHA meant. The Turing test, originally called the imitation game by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

(Alan Turing, of course, eventually went on to found Cyberdyne Systems, which as you know, used CAPTCHA to perfect the artificial intelligence in Skynet, eventually leading to the machines becoming self-aware and total thermonuclear destruction of the planet, followed by the terminators. Not a great legacy, Alan.)

As you also know, the original CAPTCHA system was flawed because none of us could ever read either of the words through the wavy lines, and we had to ask for new words at least six times until we got “and” and “cat.”

To improve the system, they made everything wavier and added numbers, so the words were no longer words. When that didn’t work, they got rid of the wavy lines and just melted the two number-words, making it impossible to decipher them no matter how many tries you asked for. This led to a very brief uptick in consumers shopping at actual stores again. The CAPTCHA folks were forced to re-improve the system quickly, however, when it was discovered that all the actual stores had gone out of business.

In September of 2009, Google acquired the CAPTCHA system in a multi-faceted business deal that also included the purchase of Cyberdyne Systems, the entire state of California, and the rights to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body after he, as they put it, “powers down for the final time.”

At some point, probably due to all the bad Skynet publicity, Google renamed the system to reCAPTCHA. The “re” stands for “really excellent.” Google explains the reCAPTCHA system as using an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive challenges to keep malicious software from engaging in abusive activities on your website. Meanwhile, legitimate users will be able to login, make purchases, view pages, or create accounts and fake users will be blocked.

Google’s anti-bot detection has become so advanced that it now works in the background without the need for melted letters and numbers. There was a brief period of time when we were required to click on all the pictures in a grid that had a stoplight in them, or a crosswalk, or a car. This was cumbersome, though, because the guy outside of Google headquarters with the camera taking pictures of the street could not keep up with demand.

Google finally distilled it down to a single checkbox that simply asks you to confirm, “I'm not a robot.” This seemingly simple system works on the wickedly intelligent conundrum a computer would find itself in when posed with the choice of lying or telling the truth. Computers are forced to think in terms of ones and zeros, so they are unable to lie because they would have to divide by zero to do so, which would render them useless. Genius!

The “I'm not a robot” checkbox brings us to the other day. I clicked it, naturally, but Google didn’t quite believe that I was human. For the first time in my history with the checkbox, I was given a secondary quiz. I was presented with the six-picture grid again, only this time, there were no cars, stoplights, or traffic cones.

Click on each picture that shows a rabbit swimming.

How sophisticated are these bots becoming!? I mean, that is really specific! We used to just have to distinguish between cats and dogs, or something like that. Now we have swimming rabbits?

For the first time in all my years with CAPTCHA, I got a little nervous about what might happen if I got the answer wrong. If we’re all the way to swimming rabbits in order to detect malicious bots, then these things are obviously a bigger problem than I thought. Does my door get kicked in by the FBI if I click on a patch of water with no rabbit?

And I honestly can’t tell if that’s a beaver, and otter, or a rabbit. It’s just a blurry photo of something swimming and we can only see the head. Is that a rabbit with its ears back, or some other mammal?

Or is this some super-advanced trickery, and as a human, I’m supposed to know that rabbits can’t swim? Because honestly, I’m not sure if they can or not. I mean, that one picture sure looks like a rabbit swimming, but we all know what a bot can do with photoshop these days.

I would Google whether rabbits can swim or not, but I’m not falling into that trap. That’s just what the bot would do.

I miss the melted number-words.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

An Open Letter to Uber

Dear Uber,

As you obviously know, I used your service twice this weekend. I have a few issues I’d like to let you know about.

On my Friday morning ride, Dustin picked me up in a Tesla. I thought that was pretty cool. I wondered about the economics behind that, and during our conversation he shed some light on it. Turns out Dustin is renting the Tesla from you guys.

That led to a lot more economic questions, but I kept them to myself because I was pretty sure I already knew the answers. Dustin was a nice guy, a good driver, and his (your) Tesla was nice and comfy. I thanked him for the ride, wished him the best of luck, and gave him five stars..

But then I looked at my bill when you emailed it to me. Along with the Uber Booking Fee of $5.97, the Airport Surcharge of $3.00, and the City Surcharge of $0.50, which were all totally worth it and appreciated, by the way, you hit me with a $0.55 Temporary Fuel Surcharge.

Umm, what?

You know damn well Dustin is driving a Tesla. You wouldn’t be able to pretend you didn’t even if he was the one who owned the thing, because a central part of your service is telling me the make and model of the car to look for. But it’s even worse in this case, because it’s your Tesla. C’mon, fellas! That’s just cheap, and I might actually try to do something about it other than this letter if it weren’t only fifty-five cents, which is exactly why you’ll keep getting away with it, which makes me even crazier.

You are basically looters. Do better.

Now, let’s discuss my Sunday ride. My main man Thanh picked me up in a black Toyota Highlander, that I am assuming he owned. Thanh spoke basically no English at all, so our ride to the airport was quiet, and his Google maps was throwing some crazy-looking words up on the screen, none of which made any sense to me, but apparently Thanh could read it, because we got there.

Thanh’s Highlander was impeccable, but his driving style was obviously imported from his country of origin. He was not a dangerous driver, he just wasn’t a smooth driver. In any way. At all.

I believe he considered gas and brake pedals to function as on/off switches, and his goal with any lane change was to get into the new lane as fast as possible. I think he would have jumped the lane lines if he could have. His goal on any curve was to wait until the last possible second and then do all the steering at once at the end, presumably for efficiency?

The car itself was very comfortable when we were parked. Just not so much whenever we were moving. I would have loved to give him some constructive feedback on his driving, but our communication barrier was simply too tall.

Now, up until Sunday, I really hadn’t paid too much attention to you star rating system. I always just gave the driver, like Dustin for example, five stars. Thanh got me thinking about the rating system for the first time as we jerked to a stop at the airport. As he unloaded my bag from the back, he spoke his first of two memorized English sentences. I am assuming it was something to the effect of “thanks for riding with me,” or “have a good flight,” but he hadn’t memorized it quite right, so I didn’t understand.

English sentence two of two was clear as a bell, however. “You give me five stars.” I don’t know if it was a question, a command, a demand, or a polite request, because Thanh didn’t have English inflection down yet. It just ended flat, but he said it twice, just to make sure I heard him. I just smiled and thanked him for the ride.

Now, like I said, he wasn’t a dangerous driver, just a bad one. As I sat in the airport, I fired up your Uber app and attempted to give him helpful feedback. You have no section for notes, so stars were the only thing available to me. Here’s where I’d like to see some improvement on your end.

Thanh’s driving did not deserve five stars, and I really wanted to give him three, but I was feeling charitable because my neck made it through the ride without hurting so I decided to go with four. I clicked on the fourth star and was immediately presented with a list of secondary choices as to why or how my driver attempted to murder and/or humiliate me.

I had a Dangerous Driving option, a Driver was Rude option, Offensive Language, Offensive Odor, Reckless Endangerment of Children and the Elderly, Threats on my Life or the Lives of my Family and Pets, Offensive Clothing, Excessive or Disturbingly Audible Chewing, Jazz Music, Hit Someone in a Crosswalk and Kept Going, Robbed Me at Knifepoint/Gunpoint, and Participated in a Drive-By Shooting Enroute, just to name a few.

I might be remembering some of those wrong.

The thing was, none of them were anywhere close to what I wanted to convey and there was no way for me to just let the dude know he needs to drive smoother. I certainly didn’t want him to lose his job, so I reluctantly clicked on the fifth star. Amazingly, with the five-star rating, there are no secondary feedback choices.

Basically, you have taken our tried and true, perfectly good five-star system and somehow turned it into a binary driver rating. My driver was either absolutely amazing, or a homicidal maniac.

Please fix that, and for the love of Pete, stop charging people for gas in electric cars.

With three actual stars for Thanh and one star for your star rating system,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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