Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Key to Our Security

I found a great new reality show that I’m really enjoying. There’s only three episodes, but I am loving watching them over and over again. Unfortunately for you all, I can’t really recommend the show, because it’s all footage from my Ring doorbell camera.

Allow me to explain.

We went on vacation last week, and our good friends’ son, who is a teammate of Son Number Two, and a young man we know and love, moved into our house to dog sit for us. He’s about to be a senior in high school, which makes the show even more entertaining.

In the first episode, our main character comes over to the house for the first time. He spends quite a bit of time at the front door fiddling with the lock before he actually went into the house. Our dog thought it was awesome, and continually barked “I’m so happy you’re here! Please come in!” at the window.

I wasn’t quite sure what he was waiting for, since I knew he wasn’t scared of the dog, but eventually he went in the house and I didn’t think much of it, until Episode Two.

Our main character is a social animal, much like our Labrador, and he had a number of friends over during the week. One of his friends, who is also a teammate of Son Number Two, ended up taking over for him one afternoon/evening when our main character had to work a long shift at his summer job. Episode Two of my new favorite show began on our front porch with our main character painstakingly teaching his stand-in dog sitter how to lock and unlock our front door using the key.

It was only then that I realized how important to the series Episode One had been. Prior to coming to our house, neither of these monkeys had ever used a key to unlock a door. They had both grown up with keypad-entry front doors. Episode One was our main character figuring out how the whole confounding key/lock system worked. I was mesmerized.

Just when I thought the series was limited to only two episodes, our good friends’ girls from down the street came over to walk our dog with her sister. (To clarify, our dog and their dog are sisters. The neighbor girls are also sisters. All were involved.)

The key that our main character had in his possession works normally. The key that our friends down the street have was cut a little wonkily. It opens the door just fine, but you have to jiggle it a little bit to get it to turn at first. This added an exciting dimension to Episode Three, and extended it well past the length of the first two episodes combined.

In all, four different girls attempted to unlock our front door before finally gaining entry. After retrieving our dog and her leash, it actually took even longer for them to re-lock the door, apparently not learning much about the ingredients of success on the entry. It was magical entertainment.

Apparently, we are the only house left among our friends that still has keyed doors. It seems, in the not-too-distant future, this will be a new level of security, along with a new level of convenience. Soon, we won’t have to carry our keys around with us. We can simply lock our doors and leave the keys hanging on a hook on the porch.

I’m sure at some point advanced thieves will figure out some code scanning software that can read the keypad door locks and produce the codes. It’s probably already an Android app. The thing is, anyone advanced enough to use the code scanning software will also be young enough to apparently not know how keys work. It’s a lot like how we adults can now write coded messages that teenagers can’t crack simply by writing in cursive.

My old, keyed door lock will soon be more secure than a keypad combination lock, at a fraction of the cost.

What an informative and entertaining show I discovered!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

An Open Letter to the TSA

Dear Transportation Security Administration,

Let me start off by just saying what a great job you all are doing. I know you are obviously not a petty or vindictive group, based on the personalities I’ve run across with your agents over the last twenty years. You are a crack squad of mentally-balanced, well-adjusted, and rational folks. That’s for sure.

Even though I know you would never ever hold a grudge, I just want to make it clear up front here that I’m on your side and I think you’re great. You’re a dedicated group of patriots, keeping us safe, even when those other people (not me) don’t think you’re doing a good job. Or even a marginally reasonable job.

I’ve even heard some of them say your airport agents are most likely hired outside popular fast-food establishments when rejected applicants are exiting from their failed interviews with the twenty-three-year-old managers. I don’t think that’s true, and I would obviously never say anything like that into a recording device.

So, now that it’s clear that I love you and think you are all top notch yet undervalued, underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated, I’d like to suggest a few things, if I may.

I noticed something on our recent family trip to Washington, D.C., where you are doing a superb and again, underappreciated job of administrating your organization. We were making our initial contact with your agents at the end of the winding rope line in front of security. Our family of five assembled in front of an ebullient TSA agent and she began to check our passports. (We weren’t sure if Washington, D.C. was its own country yet or not, so we brought passports as our identification just in case.)

Our three teenage boys were behind me, acting like teenage brothers, which in this case meant they were flexing at each other and telling the other one they looked small and weak. She looked at them and instead of choosing one and asking to see his passport, she very graciously decided to do some parenting for us.

She snapped at them to listen up and then told them that they were in an airport, and that even though they were not adults yet, they were old enough to take her TSA security station very seriously, just like it should be taken, because she was serious about her job and they needed to be serious about her job also, even if they didn’t understand how serious it was yet, because they were not really adults yet, but they were at an airport. (Or something to that effect. I’m going to be honest with you here, she started to ramble a little bit, and as an actual adult already, I kinda lost track of her point.)

So, anyhoo, I just wanted to make some friendly suggestions about the possibility of maybe putting your applicants through some sort of personality tests and screening procedures during the hiring process. I’ve taken the liberty of coming up with a few questions to ask prospective agents that I think might be helpful.


1) Have you ever been rejected for any or all of the following due to mental or physical fitness reasons?




Volunteer fire

911 operator

Security guard


Nightclub bouncer

Personal trainer

Walmart receipt checker

Walmart greeter

2) Were you horribly tormented as a youth by an older sibling or a school bully?

3) Does the idea of becoming a TSA agent give you an unbelievable electric sensation of unbridled power up your spine?

4) Does the idea of performing a secondary screening pat down on a stranger fill you with any feeling other than mild discomfort?

5) Does the idea of making someone late for their flight fill you with glee? 

6) Do you have a foot fetish of any kind?

7) Given the opportunity, would you open a stranger’s luggage to inspect it without being asked to do so?

8) Do you fully understand how dangerous more than 3.4 ounces of any liquid can really be?

9) Do you have a burning desire to see everyone’s portable electronic devices, such as laptop computers?

10) In this sample picture of an X-ray screen, do the machete and the souvenir coffee mug look identical to you?

11) Prior to coming to this interview today, were you ever turned down by Taco Bell because they didn’t think you could be trusted with the sour cream gun?

12) Do you desperately want this job for any other reason besides a steady paycheck?


I think these types of questions could be a great addition to the already amazing hiring process you have in place.

Again, I think you’re doing a really great job.

Yours in honor and security,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

An Open Letter to the Postmaster General

Dear Postmaster General,

For starters, I have absolutely no idea what your title means. I assume I’m writing to the person in charge, but maybe yours is an honorary title and you’re reading this from your yacht in the Caribbean while the actual CEO of the post office does all the work? (If that is the case, please have your yacht captain forward this to the CEO.)

If you are the one in charge, I have some questions about the title. “Postmaster” seems fairly self explanatory. You’re the master of all things postal. I get that. It’s the “General” that I’m confused about. Is that General as in encompassing all things, or is yours a formal military position?

If you are, in fact, part of the military, could I make a request that you change your staffing immediately. The civil servants delivering the mail now are, shall we say, a tad on the apathetic side. We could really turn that around by replacing them with Army Rangers.

Every kid in America, and probably most of the adults, would be thrilled to see the Blackhawk touch down in the middle of the cul-de-sac and the Rangers pour out from both sides to do a coordinated strike on the mailbox cluster. Costs may increase slightly, but efficiency will go through the roof. Something to think about.

Anyhow, I’m writing today on a postal matter that obviously needs your attention. I recently turned fifty, and out of nowhere my doctor’s office sent me a specimen collection kit in the mail.

The sending of the specimen kit to me is not the postal issue. The specimen kit, as of now, is harmless. However, if I follow their instructions, it won’t be harmless for long.

They want me to mail them my poop.

Now look, I don’t know if this is a prank or not, but the kit and the paperwork look fairly official. Apparently fifty is the age I need to start worrying about my colon. Add that to the long list of body parts I need to worry about, I guess. If the kit is bogus, it certainly is elaborate, so I’m treating it like it’s real. That being the case, this is obviously something you should be aware of.

Did you know about this? If this is real, I can’t imagine this is the first time this mail-order poop request has gone out. Again, I have no idea what your job entails, but I would rank preventing mailing of poop as probably a pretty high priority for your office.

The instructions are detailed and clear, and the poop collection stick and containment bottle seem well made, but let’s face facts. They want me to send my poop through the mail. That’s crazy.

How did something like that ever get approved by your office? Are you trying to tell me in all the years this has probably been taking place that not one less than desirable situation ever occurred with a poop mailing? I find that hard to believe.

You know FedEx and UPS would just be a hard no. How is the USPS allowing this? Are you asleep at the wheel? Just bad at your job? Or are you being paid off by the poop specimen lab lobbyists? That’s it, isn’t it!? You’ve used your powerful position for personal gain at the expense of the poor poop-toting mailmen. That’s how you can afford that gigantic yacht!

On second thought, you might not want to get the Army Rangers involved. I’m starting to understand the apathy I’m seeing in the civil servants you currently employ. If the Rangers ever found out they were transporting cardboard envelopes of poop, you might end up with a Blackhawk full of disgruntled soldiers landing on your shiny yacht.

I wonder if they’d land it on the poop deck, just for emphasis?

Probably best not to think about it.




Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

An Open Letter to the Guy Who Installed My Floor

Dear Captain Staple Gun,

I don’t know who you are, but since my house was built in the early 2000s, I am assuming you are in your mid to late 30s now. You might still work in construction if you managed to get yourself under control. If you did not calm down, I doubt you were able to hold down any sort of real job and are probably reading this from your parent’s basement.

I’m writing you today because I’m in the process of installing laminate flooring in our master bathroom, with which, you are familiar. You, after all, were there about twenty years ago installing the extra sheet of plywood onto the subfloor in the tiny little three-foot by five-foot toilet room.

Your boss, I’m sure, explained to you that the three-eighths plywood was necessary to raise the floor in that room up ever so slightly so the light beige linoleum would match the height of the dark beige carpet in the main bathroom.

In case you were wondering, the key words that identify the need for our new laminate flooring project are ”beige,” “linoleum,” and “bathroom carpet.”

I just want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for not gluing it down. Since the laminate floor will be continuous throughout the bathroom, I needed to pull out your small sheet of riser plywood so the subfloor would all be the same height. I was already on my knees when I discovered it, so I stopped and prayed that it was not glued down.

I’m not sure if you happen to remember which member of your construction crew installed our original hardwood floors downstairs, but if you do, I’d love it if you would do me a favor and set fire to their house.

We had this same laminate flooring installed in the entire downstairs area of our house a few years back, and I decided I would remove the old hardwood floors myself. After all, they were only in the kitchen and foyer. I thought, how hard could it be?

I’ll answer that for you. They were glued down with some substance the Pentagon would love to know about. You could have vaporized all of Placer county with a targeted nuclear strike centered on my home and those floors would have remained securely attached to the concrete slab, somewhere hundreds of miles away.

I had to cut through the hardwood with a Skilsaw, making a cut perpendicular to the board lengths every three inches, and chip the floor off with a giant long-handled scraper. It took our entire family of five a whole week to get the floor out of two rooms. I honestly wished I’d had access to nuclear weapons at the time. I still have a lingering case of PTSD about the whole thing.

So, yes, thank you for not gluing the plywood down, knowing you had access to whatever the hell that stuff was. That being said, this is where my thanks to you stops.

Instead of glue, you used the pneumatic staple gun that shoots two-inch construction staples. Good choice. I would have used that too. And if I was installing the small little piece of plywood to the small little floor of the small little toilet room, I would have used anywhere from twenty to thirty staples total. But that’s because I tend to overdo it a little on my fastener count. I want to know that it’s going to stay nailed down.

Not you, though. No sir. You, my friend, are on an entirely different level. I hammered my prybar under that sheet of plywood and got stopped cold by your first row of staples across the doorway. You had over thirty staples in that first row alone. The door is only twenty-eight inches wide, so you were doing better than one staple per inch. Impressive.

Speaking of staples per inch, or in the regular construction world, inches per staple, it would have been cool if you had some sort of plan or consistency to your work. But you didn’t. In some areas I encountered staples grouped so close together they were actually touching each other. In other places I may have gone a full two inches before I came upon another one of your little projectiles.

There was one spot in the middle where you had a six-inch line of staples so close together it looked like a zipper. A removal project that should have taken me about ten minutes to complete ended up taking me hours. Hours on my hands and knees in a tiny little room doesn’t really work for me anymore. I’m old now. And in more pain now because of your insane rampant stapling.

I just have to ask. What the hell were you doing? Were you hiding from the boss but needed to sound like you were still working? Were you hiding from the crazy hardwood gluer guy? Can’t blame you there. Was it the end of the day and you wanted to milk that project as long as possible so you didn’t have to start something else? I just have to know!

Were you getting paid by the staple instead of by the hour? That would explain why my fifteen-square-foot floor was honestly more staples than actual wood. I’m amazed it didn’t all cave in from the sheer weight of the steel.

Or was it your first day on the job and/or the first time you ever used a nail gun? If that was the case, then I guess I’m glad you had fun at least. And I hope you haven’t lost that childlike enthusiasm for life. I just never want you to do anything like that again.


I have to go take more Advil now.

Settle down,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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