Wednesday, May 25, 2022

50 at 50

I turned 50 years old yesterday, and I feel great. My hip only hurts most of the time, and I was able to get out of bed with only a minimal amount of groaning and old man noises. The dog looked at me funny, but she always does. I took her for a run and I didn’t collapse in a heap, so I’m going to consider that a win.

Now, getting old obviously has some disadvantages, but they do say that with age comes wisdom. Unfortunately, I wish that were more true. Nonetheless, in honor of hitting the half-century mark, I have added to my list of thoughts, observations, and acquired “wisdom.”

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


1.  The clearest evidence that capitalism beats communism is that we have at least three private citizens who own multiple space rockets. Suck it, North Korea.

2.  The recent advent of axe throwing places that serve alcohol makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think they could be the thing that gets this country back to our original motto: America – Dammit, you are free to be as dumb as you want to be under the law.

3.  There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who prefer the toilet paper to come off the top of the roll, and those who are wrong.

4.  Things would go a lot smoother out there if everyone just drove while driving.

5.  With the circumference of a circle, Pi is always a fixed number. With the circumference of a person, pie is rarely a fixed number.

6.  The truth is like poetry, and nobody really likes poetry.

7.  Here’s one of the main differences between men and women: Men can look at an ad for women's underwear and get excited. I’m not talking about women in underwear, just the underwear itself. Women do not get excited looking at pictures of boxer shorts.

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

9.  Around mid-November each year, my feelings toward the “Christmas lights stay up on the house all year” crowd changes briefly from mild distain to all out jealousy.

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

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

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

13.  When pulling a stump out of your front yard with a chain and your truck, first make sure the roots aren’t wrapped around your water main. Trust me.

14.  When packing thirteen suitcases into the car for your wife, is it impossible to have ten of them be “on top” so she can get to them easily.

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

16.  You can ask someone to do something, or you can tell them how you want it done, but you can’t do both.

17.  A good indicator of where you are in life is this: Does the advertisement of free food still affect your decision making?

18.  Fabric softener sheets go in the dryer, not the washer. Just FYI. I’m not saying I didn’t know that.

19.  There is no “t” or “t” sound in the word across. There is no “b” or “b” sound in the word supposedly. Please pronounce accordingly.

20.  Men are far more likely to clean things with spit than women are.

21.  Money and toilet paper have something in common – They’re both easy to take for granted until you run out. Also, in totally opposite, but equally dire situations, they can be substituted for each other.

22.  There are very few things in life that can make you feel as special as the phrase, “or current resident.”

23.  If you ask any guy to tell you a story about a time he almost died, he will have four stories just off the top of his head, and one will be from this year. If you ask women the same question, most of them will look at you like you’re crazy. We guys are much, much dumber.

24.  Nothing says I never want to have a real job quite like a face tattoo.

25.  Guys: Sitting down to put on your pants is one very clear tipping point toward old.

26.  In life, it is very important to remember where you are and why you're there. That way, when your podiatrist tells you to drop your shorts, you’ll ask some questions first.

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

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

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

30.  You can't take bell peppers off a pizza.

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

32.  It’s hard to claim to be a grown woman, fully capable of taking care of yourself, and also claim that you do not know how to operate a toilet seat.

33.  The fact that there is such a thing as the American Cemetery Excellence Award is proof that there is no industry that will not self-congratulate.

34.  Quantity of repetition does not equal truth.

35.  “To be or not to be” is not the question. The real question is which towel in the guest bathroom am I allowed to use to dry my hands?

36.  There is a big, and usually obvious, difference between something that was designed and something that was just built.

37.  Its not interchangeable. (take all the time you need)

38.  If you get a paper cut while reading a book about Navy SEALs, you’re not allowed to say ouch.

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

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

41.  We would be in much better financial shape as a nation if we just instituted my new $100 Million Rule. No matter what the project – bridge, building, plane, ship, department of department compliance, whatever – you get a one-time check for $100 million and if you can't get it done for that, too bad. It obviously wasn’t meant to be. No more money for you, ever.

42.  The challenge with raising independent, free-thinking adults is that you have to live with independent, free-thinking children.

43.  Guys, do you ever have trouble figuring out if you’ve had too much to drink? Here’s a handy guideline:

“There is no way I can scratch that itch on my ankle while I’m standing here peeing, so I will not try.” – You’re still OK

“I can totally do it without peeing on myself.” – You’re drunk

44.  Be wary of any celebrity’s restaurant endorsements if that same celebrity also endorses an antacid.

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

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

47.  If you have to choose, it makes more sense to become a strong swimmer than a strong runner. You don’t automatically die when you stop running.

48.  It’s time for text-in radio contests to stop saying, "message and data rates may apply." At this point, if people don't understand how their text and data plans work, they should learn the hard way.

49.  You can give a teenager reminders about your departure time every fifteen minutes for hours ahead of time, but they still will not start looking for their shoes until you are sitting in the car.

50.  Love is great and all, but the strongest force in the universe is clearly the one that holds 5-gallon buckets together in the stack.


See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

An Open Letter to AARP

Dear folks over at AARP,

I’d like to start by saying, bite me.

Allow me to explain. AARP is for old people, and I’m only 49. Yet, you felt compelled recently to send me an AARP membership invitation entitled, “Welcome to the ‘50’s Club.’”

Sure, my 50th birthday is next week, but that still doesn’t excuse this egregious affront to my youthfulness. Again, your organization is for old people. Really old people. Women with blue hair and men who sit on their front porch and yell at the neighborhood kids to stay off the lawn.

I have teenage boys, for goodness sake. I’m not old!

I don’t even understand what you want with me, besides, of course, my subscription money. You’ve listed all these amazing benefits of membership, and none of them apply to me. Discounts on meal delivery services? Last time I checked, Meals-on-Wheels was free. (At least, they’ve never charged me.)

Thirty percent off on eyewear? Sure, my eyes gave up trying years ago, but I get my magnifying readers at the dollar store, so I’m good there.

Discounts on dining? I’m not interested in the early bird specials, thank you very much. I don’t eat dinner at 4:00 like your actually old members do. I eat dinner at 4:30 like young people do.

And you bill yourselves as the “proven advocate for protecting Social Security.” I don’t want Social Security. I’ve never wanted it. It’s socialist. It’s right there in the title. I’ve never wanted the government taking my money from me and “saving” it for me for my own good. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the government has a 100% track record of being really bad at saving money.

I can save for my own retirement, thank you very much. And speaking of retirement, might I remind you of what AARP stands for? I realize you pulled a KFC and don’t talk about what your letters mean anymore, but in case you forgot, it was the American Association of Retired Persons.

Why are you even contacting me? I’m miles away from being retired, so how the hell do I even qualify? Also, thanks for rubbing it in my face that apparently there are young people my age out there who have already retired. That’s just hurtful and mean.

One thing, though – you mention health tips and advice a lot in the brochure… do you have any advice for what to do about aching hips? I’m not saying that I’m old, or even that my hips hurt, but I assume that a lot of your actually old members have hip issues, and I’d like to know what is recommended for relief.

You know, for future reference, of course.

So, to sum up, I’ll skip the amazing free insulated car trunk organizer you are offering and just go about my youthful, young man business.

But seriously, any advice you could give me on the hip thing would be great.

Sincerely, a very young almost-50-year-old,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

An Open Letter to Dixon Ticonderoga

Dear folks over at the Dixon Ticonderoga Company,

I am writing you today to give you a heads up about the end of an era. Specifically, the era of the Number 2 Pencil, of which you are surely the world’s leading manufacturer.

I have been proctoring college advanced placement exams for the last two weeks. “Proctoring” is an old Latin word that means “trying not to fall asleep.” The job involves giving a large number of high school students very specific instructions for about five minutes, then nodding off in a quiet room for two hours.

A majority of the instructions I am required to give have to do with each and every student desperately needing to have in their possession one or more Number 2 Pencils. For this, I have to give you a ton of credit. I don’t know who you had to pay off over the years, or how much it cost, but that whole “Number 2 Pencils are the only thing that works on these little bubbles” nonsense has really stuck around.

So much so, that it’s printed on nearly every page of the lengthy instruction book I have from College Board. Seriously, you guys deserve a ton of credit for that marketing home run. You actually have testing companies putting it in writing that every high school student in America must use your products. I mean, that is a big win. Sure, they don’t actually write “Dixon Ticonderoga” in the instructions, but they may as well.

You guys are the Kleenex of pencils. The Xerox of writing implements. The Q-tips of Scantron bubble tests. When someone says, “you need a yellow Number 2 Pencil,” they may as well be saying your name, even if people don’t know your name. You’re that good.

The majority of folks out there probably think “Number 2” actually means that the pencil is wooden, yellow, and has your name on it. But we know better, don’t we, DT? You and I both know that Number 2 is just another designation for “HB” lead hardness, on the long and weird scale of pencil lead harness/blackness that only artists and us old engineers care about. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool us old engineers. (Because our hips hurt if we lay in bed too long, and we needed to pee anyway.)

I mean, I can understand the reasoning behind the whole “pens will not work” instruction on the bubble tests. It’s not because the machine wouldn’t read the pen mark – it’s better than a pencil. It’s because the kid can’t erase it if they need to.

But where your marketing department really came through for you was the “mechanical pencils will not work” instruction. You guys are good! Never mind that I have an old set of wooden pencils with all kinds of different lead hardnesses that are not “Number 2,” but I have plenty of HB lead for my mechanical pencils.

I’m just super impressed with the long game you guys played in the Scantron testing field! But here’s the thing. How long can it really be before the AP tests – all tests, for that matter – go digital. I’m actually amazed it hasn’t happened yet. The SAT is slated to go digital in the next year or so, and colleges might even stop using that one. I can’t imagine the AP tests’ move to digital will be far behind.

And as near as I can tell, bubble tests are your last remaining market on earth. I’m assuming you’ve noticed a slight dip in sales over the last few years, but just in case you’re still all wearing polyester Sansabelt slacks and riding high on those Number 2 Pencil glory years of the ‘60s thru ‘90s, change is a-comin’.

I guess you still have the paper crossword puzzle crowd, but there are fewer and fewer of us around these days, and Wordle is probably putting a major dent in that market, too. (And I use a mechanical pencil. Less pencil shavings, you know.)

Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads up.

Best of luck with everything,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

We're Burying the Lead, Here

Two news stories have captivated my interest lately. Actually, it’s more the stories behind the stories that I’m interested in.

First, some boaters on Lake Mead, near Las Vegas, found a dead body stuffed in a barrel. But the barrel hadn’t washed up on shore. Instead, the shore came to the boaters as the water level of Lake Mead has dropped to historic lows.

As additional details have emerged over the last few days, we found out that, to no one’s surprise, this seems to be the result of foul play.

One additional detail was that the body has an additional hole in it, caused by a bullet. And our unfortunate murder victim has likely been barrel-marinating since the late ‘70s or early ‘80s.

"The victim's clothes and shoes were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s," Metro Police Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told KLAS.

So, based on the wardrobe, I have to assume at this point that the police are looking into disappearances of very, very low-level Las Vegas mob guys forty-plus years ago. Kmart was never high-end, even in the late ‘70s.

We also learned: The decades-old barrel is also believed to have originally been about 100 feet underwater and "several hundred" yards from shore, Lt. Spencer told Fox5 Las Vegas.

The drought has caused a large decrease in water level, and Lake Mead is one of two major reservoirs in the country. According to The Associated Press, Lake Mead and Lake Powell supply water to over 40 million people, but its drop in water level has created major cause for concern.

Here’s where the story behind the story comes in, and the news doesn’t seem to be covering it. They state that it’s the “drop in water level” that “has created a major cause for concern.”

The articles even dropped this little speculation from law enforcement on us: According to Spencer, there's a "very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains."

Even after that cheery news, the press still hasn’t covered the real story here.The major cause for concern is not the water levels. It’s all the dead bodies in the drinking water, people!

I mean, come on! The headline here should be: “Bottled Water Sales Skyrocket in the Nevada/Arizona/Utah Regions”


The second story that has me glued to my phone is the Alabama jail break. Lauderdale County Assistant Director of Corrections Vicki White, a formerly model Sheriff’s department employee, seems to have broken her secret jail boyfriend out of said jail.

(Note the fun built-in foreshadowing of the county in Alabama being named “Lauderdale.” You just know damn well this thing is going to all wind up in Florida, the natural magnetic home of American crazy.)

Casey White, our murderous incarcerated love interest, was released from jail a little earlier than expected by Vicki. She broke department policy by failing to bring along another officer when transporting Casey to his fake court appearance and then she broke AMA and HIPAA policy when she failed to show up for her own fake doctor’s appointment hours later.

Initially, the U.S. Marshals Service put out a reward for information leading to the capture of a dangerous fugitive and hopefully, the safe return of his poor little hostage. Shortly thereafter, more information began to arrive.

"Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White," Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement Tuesday. "That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means."

Throughout the reporting of this story, the press has been very diligent in noting the fact that Casey White and Vicki White are not related.

Inmate Casey White and Lauderdale County Assistant Director of Corrections Vicki White -- who are not related -- went missing from Florence, Alabama, on Friday.

Vicky White, 56, and Casey White, 38, who are not related…


You might think that this is just a natural result of standard reporting practices, but I believe it to be something more. I think that’s the real story behind the story here.

The reporters keep pointing out that Casey and Vicki are not related for a much different reason than you think. The rest of us around the country would initially see the same last name and think, “Oh, maybe they’re cousins and she’s helping a family member escape.” We would think that before we found out they were romantically involved.

This insanely stupid jail break is serving to showcase a huge media bias that is almost never talked about. The real story here is the elite media snobs’ natural bias against hillbillies. This isn’t a case of racism, it’s a case of regionism. The press are regionists, or whatever you call it when people from Manhattan automatically look down on people from Alabama.

The New York press keeps pointing out that the fugitive lovers are not related because they are simply amazed at the fact that they’re not cousins.

The other thing that amazes me about this particular story is the fact that Vicki is five-foot-five and “walks with a waddling gait,” and Casey is six-foot-nine.

Six feet, nine inches tall.

For the love of Pete, how is this couple hard to find!?

See you soon, and May the 4th be with you,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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