Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Be Best Life - Repost

A commissioner from the FCC is calling for Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. If you are unfamiliar with TikTok (in other words, if you’re really old), chances are it’s the thing that your grandkids are staring at when they are staring at their phones. Which is all the time. Literally, right now. Look at them right now, and they will be watching a TikTok video.

TikTok is a video app where young people record themselves either dancing or hilariously getting “accidentally” hit with something by their friends, and then trillions and trillions of other young people watch those videos in a trance while drooling and forgetting to do their chores and homework.

The FCC has shown, however, that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese government, is illegally data mining off every phone it’s installed on. TikTok is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but rest assured, your teenager doesn’t care, so Apple and Google will keep offering it.

TikTok may be bad, but I’m here to tell you that not everything coming out of China is nefarious. I mean, the copywriting on Chinese products is bad, but it’s hilarious, and only harmful to the sales of those products. Actually, it has an outside chance of being harmful to you, I guess, if you happen to fall over laughing like I did when I got the SUPERSEALER for Christmas.

The SUPERSEALER is a crappy ninety-nine-cent as-seen-on-TV plastic bag sealer that is really hard to operate and works poorly. I could care less about the bag sealer. I am in love with the little cardboard box it came in.

The WORKWONDER SUPERSEALER is made in China by a Chinese company that obviously has two copywriters. One of these people has some background in using the English language. We’ll call him Bob. The other has to be the owner’s son, and after disappointing performances in many different departments, copywriter was the least harmful position his dad could think of to stick him. We’ll assume the owner’s name is Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang doesn’t know any English either. Bob is obviously terrified of Mr. Wang and won’t tell him that Son of Wang partied continuously for four years at the international university in Beijing and knows no English whatsoever.

In a few places on the box, Bob invites me to Just slide SUPERSEALER across bags to seal in freshness!

Son of Wang tells me, Relaxed onepulls, guarantees quality to retain freshness. Based on what we get from Son of Wang in his main paragraph, I guarantee Bob helped him with the last half of that sentence.

Here’s Bob’s effort on selling us on the amazing benefits of the SUPERSEALER:

Finally an inexpensive and easy way to perfectly reseal unused poutions of food. This amazing new SUPERSealer creates an airtight seal that locks in freshness.

You simply slids SUPERSealer along the edge of any bag and it’s sealed airtight. It’s that easy. You’ll not only save on storage bags, but you can save even more buying bulk at warehouse clubs. Just use your SUPERSealer to reseal any unused portions over and over again!

I never claimed that Bob was great. I just said he has some background in English. He’s not the best speller, but I do have to give him credit for using American sayings like, “locks in freshness,” and “it’s that easy.” That would suggest that he has a better than average grasp on American English than your standard WORKWONDER employee.

Here’s what Son of Wang had to offer us. I swear, I am not making any of this up, and keep in mind, folks, this is written on the SAME BOX as Bob’s paragraph.

Have sometimes been able to affect your state of mindbecause of a lot of situation such as damp , becomingmildewed , depraved , water leaking from in the dailylife, have used you feel very vexed , good under this , have had the convenient plastic bag of new model seal implement , have all have made stable , no matter howvexed your nonutility be. Collection such as all food , clothing and other articales of daily use , postage stamp, you have put plastic bag lining inside as long as with them , seal machine has taken form lightly with convenient adheaive tape of new model as soon as the fault , one have protection against the tide , mould proof, the herm etic sealing bag retaining freshness. Such is simple , the simplicity is comfortable, be best life!

After reading the box about a hundred times (and laughing out loud every single time), I have to assume this conversation took place at the WORKWONDERS office prior to printing the box:

“My dad wants you to proofread my copy, Bob. What do you think?”

“This is the most unintelligible thing anyone has ever written. What the hell, Wang?”

“My dad is the owner. I’ll have you fired.”

“Looks great. Let’s print that box!”


I mean, am I a little concerned that Communist China will eventually collapse the world’s digital economy by waging a cyber war against us with our own data? Sure I am, but at least Son of Wang provided my family our new motto:

Be best life!

Postage stamp,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Walking is Hard Work

I would like to lodge a formal complaint against anatomy, physiology, exercise as a whole, or any combination thereof. I’m not sure who I should complain to here on earth, however, and I’m not about to complain to God about how my body works. That would be like complaining to Samsung about how my cell phone works. It’s so incredibly complicated and so, so far past my capacity for understanding it, that I have literally no leg to stand on there.

Speaking of legs to stand on, that’s what my formal complaint centers around. Since there’s no earthly authority in charge of this, I believe at this point that I’m just lodging a formal, public whine. So be it.

Here’s my problem: I’m a recovering engineer. No, not my engineer-ish social awkwardness. The other problem. The fact that after a technical college education and a lengthy career in engineering design and implementation, I understand the physical laws of the universe fairly well. At least, the physical laws of motion.

For example, and to my point, work is work. It doesn’t matter if I move one pound up ten feet in the air all at once, or if I move that same one pound up one foot a day for ten days. When I get to ten feet, the amount of work I’ve done is the same for both scenarios. The difference is in the amount of power that was required. Power involves a time component. Work does not. The social awkwardness problem comes in when I think people want an explanation of that concept at dinner parties.

The complaint, or whine, that I am lodging is that walking versus running should work the same. My problem is that I have recent empirical proof that it does not.

We just got back from Washington D.C., where we walked for six straight days. My main/only form of exercise is running. And when I say running, I mean jogging. And when I say jogging, I mean slowly. I run three miles, three days a week. That’s nine miles a week. I think that’s pretty good for a fifty-year-old guy who likes chocolate more than he should. At least, I thought it was pretty good.

Here's my complaint: None of my running prepared me for the walking, and the walking didn’t translate back to the running. Allow me to explain.

My feet hurt in D.C. My legs hurt. I was tired at the end of the days. My feet and legs don’t hurt after running. By the laws of the universe, if I can run three miles in a day, I ought to be able to walk at least nine or so, right? I mean, I don’t really know what the conversion is, because I’ve never timed my walking pace for a mile, but it’s got to be at least three to one against my running, right. I do both very slowly!

We walked a lot, but I don’t think we ever got anywhere close to walking nine miles in one day on the trip. The Smithsonians are big, but they’re not THAT big.

Anyway, we do all that walking, amazed at how tired we are from it, then come home and take a nice two-day break before resuming normal activities. If all the walking was inexplicably wearing me out so much, I should have been getting in better shape, not worse, right? Well, let me tell you, my first attempt at running was pathetic. Or should I say, pathetic-er than normal.

I was sucking wind! It felt like I hadn’t been doing anything for a month. And our sample size of test subjects is not just limited to one overweight, marginally-athletic fifty-year-old man. Our super-trim, very athletic sixteen-year-old, Son Number Two, was right there with me doing all the walking in our nation’s capital. He came home to a lacrosse scrimmage and was a pathetic mess trying to run up and down the field as a midfielder. It was sad.

I am not OK with doing all that work and getting seemingly no return on it whatsoever. Work is work in physics. It should be the same in physiology!

OK, enough whining. I obviously need to get back to work.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

An Open Letter to Washington D.C.

Dear Washington D.C.,

As you know, my family and I are on vacation this week in your fine city. Or non-state district. Or federal municipal jurisdiction. Or whatever you are.

We are enjoying all you have to offer. On our first day, we employed your Big Bus tour, which allowed us to hop on and off at almost all of your fabulous attractions along the mall.

Incidentally, I think the "mall" is misnamed. It seems to be comprised entirely of one big-ass lawn and the world's longest lap pool, surrounded by nothing but hugely imposing granite and marble buildings and monuments. We did find some gift shops in the museums, but not a single Forever 21 or pretzel place. And also, the Capital Police get kinda testy when you try to swim laps in the big pool.

Anyhoo, just wanted to thank you for the attractions. We got a guided tour of the Capitol building. Solid giant artwork selection! Although, one of the rotunda artists put his old, bearded face on a baby, and that was mildly disconcerting when pointed out by our guide.

The Lincoln Memorial is outstanding! Kudos on all the huge columns and engravings and gigantic Abe. Very impressively imposing. It's a bit high, though. Not to complain too much, but it's kinda hot and more than a little muggy here in June. Less stairs next time, would be super!

The war memorials are all really well done. Thank you for those. Arlington National Cemetery is sobering and incredibly well kept and cared for. Again, thank you for that. And great work with those guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier! I was sweating like a faucet just standing there watching them, and I never heard one of them complain. Just a lot of heal clicking.

And big props on the Natural History Museum! We saw everything from a T-Rex eating a triceratops to the Hope Diamond. That museum is like the upscale Walmart of natural history. It's got everything! Well done.

We are all big fans of the Nick Cage movie, National Treasure, as I’m sure you are, so we wouldn’t have missed the National Archives. I obviously wouldn’t be reporting it if we had, but I wanted to let you know that we weren’t able to sneak out the Declaration of Independence, or any of the other more important documents. Kudos on all the security in the rotunda room! Strangely, the security in the vault room was less formidable. Go figure. Anyway, we promise to take very good care of our new keepsakes. Cheers!

What I really wanted to write about actually has nothing to do with any of the monuments or museums. I’m corresponding with you today mainly regarding your wildlife. No, not the tourists that rent those electric scooters, and not the homeless guys yelling at invisible people on the Metro rail. I wanted to highlight a plus and a minus for you of the non-human variety.

First, the plus. We took a night tour of the mall and absolutely loved the fireflies. We don’t have those in California, and they added an element of magical wonder to our trip. Thanks so much for providing those! We have yet to find any in the gift shops but would love to get some to take back home for our backyard. Any info you could provide on that would be great.

Now, the minus. Your rats. We definitely do have those in California, but we don’t keep them out on the street in broad daylight like you do. And not to complain too much, but walking through our neighborhood at night is like the underground tunnel scenes in Indiana Jones. Rats scurrying in front of you on the sidewalk every couple yards is not a super-relaxing way to stroll home after a delightful day of sightseeing.

Our AirBnB is in Foggy Bottom, which, incidentally, would be a great name for an alt-folk-rock band. As you know, Foggy Bottom is one of the older neighborhoods in town, but it’s quite nice otherwise. The rats really detract from it, though. Especially when you are constantly readying yourself to dropkick one, and you have to shoo them off your front steps when you arrive home. I’m not making that up.

Anyway, just wanted to drop you a quick line to say you have a great town here, but the rats aren’t doing you any favors in the Yelp reviews, if you know what I mean.

Just a friendly heads up, rodent-wise.

Stay classy,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Something's Fishy Here

A grave injustice has been rectified. Our California courts have come to the rescue of reason and sanity and finally, once and for all, ruled that bees are fish.

It’s about damned time.

Bees, in a travesty of “law” and common sense, were up to this point considered insects. Can you imagine? Now they can finally take their rightful place in the animal kingdom alongside largemouth bass and great white sharks.

You see, in 2018, some conservation groups wanted four separate types of bumblebees to be protected by the California Endangered Species Act. I don’t know how bumblebee species get their names, but one of them was the Crotch bumblebee, which sounds like the end result of a very unfortunate situation. Another was the Suckley cuckoo bumblebee, which had to be a prank just to get people to say it out loud with a straight face, right?

Anyway, the endangered species act doesn’t cover insects – just birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and Keith Richards. Instead of simply asking for insects to be added to the endangered species act, these conservation groups, which shall remain nameless because they qualify as minors based on their apparent average IQ, argued that bees can and should be considered fish.

In 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court struck down that argument on the basis that it made no sense whatsoever, and also ordered the groups to stop eating the paste.

Decades earlier, however, in 1979, crack cocaine was invented, which California’s 3rd District Court of Appeals smokes religiously before making any ruling. On May 31st of this year, while higher than the grocery bill, they ruled that bees are, in fact, fish.

Which brings me to the point of this particular column. I would like to bring an immediate motion to the California 3rd District Court of Appeals regarding my classification as a human.

As the court is aware, humans obviously all evolved from apes. Many of the more advanced humans have wondered, if that were true, how come there are still apes? I am here to tell you, without a doubt, that some of us apes never fully evolved. My wife can testify under oath to this.

Since I am an ape, I do not fall under the definition of “taxable individual or entity” in any of the Internal Revenue Service code. As such, I am not only exempt from future taxation of any kind, but since I’ve been an ape my whole life, I’m owed a very large amount in illegally confiscated back taxes.

I had no idea this was the case up until now, but in my defense, I’m just a poor, dumb ape. I’d really appreciate it if you fine folks over at the appeals court could fire up those crack pipes and rule in my favor here. I’d really like all that money back.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy some nightcrawlers, grab my rod and reel, and head over to the almond orchard to try to catch us some dinner.

In case I run into a game warden, does anybody know the limit on bees?

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

An Open Letter to Samsung

Dear folks over at Samsung,

I think, as a smartphone owner, I really don’t have a ton of demands or expectations about performance or features.

Your younger smartphone users – let me pause here for a moment and point out that I didn’t call them “owners.” If they had to pay for these damned things, they would have a lot more respect for them!! Anyway… your younger smartphone users expect quite a bit more from you than I do. They are spoiled little brats. I grew up when the only phone available was bolted to the wall in the kitchen.

I’m fifty, so I’m in the age group that missed the original brick phone, bag phone, and car phone. My first cell phone was a flip phone, and even with that kind of crazy-awesome new technology in the palm of my hand, texting was still damned near impossible.

Kids today will never know the pain of texting a word containing an “ss” on a flip phone. Hit the 7 key four times. Wait until the first “s” registers. Hit the 7 key four more times. Wait for the second “s” to register. Congratulations, you typed “ss.” On the other hand, they have never had the sheer, unbridled awesomeness of ending your phone call by flipping the phone closed.

The Blackberry came out shortly after that, and having a full keyboard was a mind-blowing game changer, even if we had to sacrifice the insanely cool end call flip.

So you see, based on my history, anything a current smartphone can do is just simply gravy. I understand the past and the evolution of these things. I get it. I’m easy.

All that being said, I’m writing you today to take serious issue with one feature I recently noted. I think you can agree, that based on what I’ve told you about my age, history, and expectations, if I’m concerned, you should be too.

There I was last Thursday, just minding my own business, working in my office. My Samsung Galaxy S21 was sitting face up on my desk, directly to the right of my computer screen, plugged into the charger. Things were shaping up to be a fairly normal day, right up until the phone woke itself up, opened the camera app, and took a picture of the desk.

Since the phone was sitting directly in my field of view, I watched the entire thing take place, and I can assure you, my hand never even went near the phone. I hadn’t even bumped the charger cord. It just decided to take a picture all by itself.

Now, again, I don’t demand a lot from my smartphone, but autonomous picture taking is not a feature I’m at all interested in. Pictures on my own phone are one thing, but who’s to say that the next one won’t go public? I mean, my phone decided to take a picture all by itself. Why wouldn’t it decide to upload the next one to social media? Why not, right?

I can think of a whole bunch of reasons not to have this feature, but the main one off the top of my head right now is my shower.

When I shower, I prop my phone up on the bathroom counter, facing me, so I can see the clock on the screen. I’m almost positive the last thing this world needs is shower photos of my fifty-year-old butt on Instagram.

We’ve got enough problems out there. Let’s not add to it with unwanted shower selfies.

Kindly look into that issue for me.

For all of us.

For mankind.

With much appreciation for all you do,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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