Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Trick Waterpik

We have a problem with our Waterpik. The main problem is that I can’t seem to live without my Waterpik anymore.

I guess I should be clear and tell you it’s not really an actual Waterpik brand device. I guess the technical name for it would be “cordless water flosser,” or “oral irrigator,” or “flossing irrigator,” but I don’t call it that.

That would be like asking my wife, “Honey, where do we keep the cotton swabs?” She would ask if I was trying to perform surgery. “Where are the Q-tips?” is going to be a much straighter path to the location of our off-brand cotton swabs.

Anyway, back to our off-brand oral irrigator. Turns out Waterpiks are a lot like streaming television or smartphones. I was living just fine without it, then I got it, and now it would simply be impossible to live a normal, productive life without it.

The Waterpik is definitely lower on that scale than Hulu and my Samsung Galaxy, but it’s still on the scale.

Hence, my problem. The Waterpik quit working the other day. I charged it all the way up and then it wouldn’t start when I pushed the button. Nada. Just me hovering over the sink with the business end of a Waterpik in my mouth pushing a button that did nothing at all.

I flossed joylessly and went to bed sad about my oral hygiene situation. Our off-brand irrigator wasn’t too expensive (possible cause of the issue), so I figured I would order another one from Amazon the next day. However, when the next day rolled around it decided to start working again, as if it just needed one night off.

OK, I decided. I’ll chalk that up to a random electrical issue and pretend nothing happened. Now, normally devices that both spray water and go in your mouth are the last devices you want to have random electrical issues with, but it’s all low voltage, so what the heck.

It worked for a few more days with no issues, and then I decided to charge it up again. Wouldn’t you know it – last night, same problem. Push the on button – nothing comes on. But last night I wasn’t OK with giving up. I’d seen this problem before and overcome it somehow. But how did I overcome it? By giving up.

Last night I tried a different approach. I decided to stand at the sink and push the button about a thousand times. Now, this is a completely handheld device where the water reservoir attaches to the bottom of the handle/motor/pump section that has the nozzle on top of it. The water reservoir was empty and not attached while I was furiously pushing the button. I’m not an idiot!

On button push number 1004 the Waterpik sprang to life. Excellent! However, on push 1005, it did not turn off. It didn’t turn off on the subsequent two hundred pushes either.

Hmm… now I have the opposite problem. A Waterpik that won’t turn OFF. Well, I thought, I can at least get one more water flossing in before the battery dies. Don’t want to waste this opportunity, after all…

So, moments later, there I am, with a continuously running Waterpik motor and nozzle in one hand, and a full 300 ml water reservoir in the other. My plan was simple, keep the nozzle in my mouth while I connected the reservoir to the running pump with the easy quarter twist locking system.

Now, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what happened next, mainly because I’m still in shock and not too sure. All I know it that I nearly lost and eye, I managed to turbo-waterboard myself with a needle stream of high-pressure pulsing water straight up my nose, and we now have dripping water on our mirror, our ceiling, the dog, inside the light fixture, and somehow, inside the closed medicine cabinet.

Perhaps if I’d bought an actual Waterpik brand, I wouldn’t be having this problem. I’m going to go on Amazon right now and fix that prob… ooh, the off-brand irrigators are a third of the price…

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

49 at 51

I turned 51 years old today. There are two pieces of good news associated with that.

First, I got a birthday card from my parents that informed me Shaquille O’Neal, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Eminem, Brad Paisley, and Mia Hamm are all my same age. And I’d say we’re not doing too bad, as a group.

Second, for about the past three or four months I thought I was already 51 and turning 52 today, so when I finally did the math, it was like getting a year younger instead of a year older. I highly recommend this method.

On or around my birthday, I have traditionally added one piece of “wisdom” (using that term very loosely) to this list. At 51, however, I am officially changing the format to begin reducing the amount of “wisdom” on this list by one thought per year. Why? Well, let’s face it, when I turn 100, the last thing you want to have to do is read 100 rambling, nonsensical ideas from my no longer functioning brain.

So, here it is – 49 at 51. We’ll be subtracting one each year until the wheels come off. 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.  People who are starting with nothing have a great advantage, because they are perfectly willing to risk it all.

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.  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.

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.  You find out a lot about a person by how they deal with airports.

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 never 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 three 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.  Closing the door to avoid waking someone up but accidentally waking them up by closing the door is irony. If it doesn't fit that pattern then it’s not irony. It's just a coincidence or unfortunate. I’m looking at you, Alanis Morissett.

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.  Nothing good has ever happened below 90.1 FM.

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’m just saying you should avoid doing this.

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.  When raising boys, there is a fine line between upraising and uprising.

39.  If a pest control company has a permanent “now hiring” sign painted on their truck, chances are it might not be a great place to work.

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.  You know when you pull into a parking space next to someone who is parked at a crazy angle, so it forces you to park at that same crazy angle, then you come back to your car and the other car is gone, so it just looks like you chose to park at the crazy angle for no reason? You always hope that the people who saw your car by itself understood that someone else forced you to do it, but you know damned well you yourself never gave the first guy the benefit of that doubt.

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 will never start looking for their shoes until you are sitting in the car.


See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Smog 'n Go Faster

I have been noticing a recent phenomenon at Smog ‘n Go. We have five vehicles (yet, because we’re bad at car math, only four current drivers), so I spend my fair share of time at Smog ‘n Go.

For those of you non-Californians, Smog ‘n Go is where we are required to visit to have our gasoline-powered cars blessed every year to be allowed to operate them in the Golden State. If one of our vehicles fails our state’s emissions standards – the strictest in the nation – we are legally required to sell it to someone in Nevada, where it will be revered as the cleanest running automobile in the state.

Anyway, I have been noticing a severe rate increase for Smog ‘n Go’s services.

Now, let me be clear. The price I pay for each vehicle hasn’t increased in years. There is obviously a state price cap on how much they are allowed to charge. But the rate has skyrocketed.

I think Tesla has scared them. Or maybe it was the Nissan Leaf. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, my. Now that we’ve all had a good laugh… I think Tesla has scared them.

Now, this is a strange customer complaint, for sure, but hear me out. Years ago, when I would take my car to Smog n’ Go, they would check me in and then say, “OK, go ahead and have a seat. We should have it finished in about twenty minutes or so.”

The work usually took anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes, and I was on my way. (Except for the time my old Jeep Grand Wagoneer failed the smog test and I had to drive it to the liquor store and buy a flask of Everclear to pour in the tank, and then get it re-tested for the passing grade. That took a little longer, but we don’t ever, ever mention that to the authorities. Ever.)

The $60 that Smog ‘n Go charges, while annoying, still at least seemed like a reasonable hourly rate for an automotive service, even though you never wanted or needed the service.

The last four times I have been there, however, the entire process has taken no more than ten minutes max. On my visit last week with our Suburban, from pulling up to the building to getting back in the car to leave, was no more than four minutes. I am not making that up.

They still charged me $60.

Now, I am a big proponent of businesses getting more efficient in their operations, but this is ridiculous. I mean, I checked in at the desk, and I checked out and paid inside of that four minutes. That means, maximum, they “worked” on my car for two minutes.

Sixty dollars for two minutes of work equates to a rate of $2000/hour. Now, this business has either gone completely off the rails, or they are absolute geniuses.


“OK, ladies and gentlemen, we have a huge problem. Our business model relies on people driving gasoline-powered cars, but lots of people aren’t doing that anymore. Plus, California just said that in a few years it would actually be illegal to sell someone a gasoline-powered car in the state, even though that is completely unconstitutional. What should we do?”

“Elect reasonable people into office? Move?”

“I mean what should we do about our business here in California, Jenkins. Keep up with the conversation.”

“Why don’t we just charge more?"

“Stop being an idiot, Jenkins. We aren’t allowed to do that.”

“What if we just work less?”

“Interesting, Johnson. Explain.”

“Well, sir, if we’re losing customers without the hope of getting more, and we can’t charge more for our services, then we could just do less, but charge the same rate, therefore increasing our hourly rate dramatically and making the company billions of dollars.”

“I like where you’re headed, Johnson. But, how would it work?”

“Well, sir, instead of actually measuring emissions and running the vehicle through a series of tests like we do now, we could just pop the hood, wheel a computer up next to the car, note that the car does, in fact, have an engine, then close the hood. The car wouldn’t really even have to be running. We push the PASS button and call it a day. The whole thing probably wouldn’t take more than two minutes. We’d be making about $2000/hour and living the good life, sir.”

“I could finally get that third house in the Caymans. Johnson, you’re a genius! Jenkins, you’re fired. Johnson is taking your office. Let’s celebrate.”


You, know, come to think of it, this isn’t a complaint at all. Now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, as an owner of gasoline-powered vehicles, I’m actually really happy about this new company direction at Smog ‘n Go.

Carry on, smog check professionals. I’ll see you in a few months.

For about three minutes.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

We Have an Alarming Problem

We have an alarm clock problem. The main problem is I still like my alarm clock. I don’t want to have my phone plugged in and charging right next to my head all night. I want it in another room where it can’t bother me. I purposely don’t call or text people in the middle of the night, and I don’t want to know if they call or text me.

Also, when I want to know what time it is in the middle of the night, I just want to roll over and look. I don’t want to have to pick anything up and make it shine in my face.

Also, one of my favorite things in the world is waking up and thinking my alarm is about to go off, then rolling over to look at the time, only to gleefully discover that it’s still the middle of the night and I get to sleep for four more hours. That moment of joy somehow wouldn’t be the same if I had to extend my arm out from under the cozy covers and pick up my phone.

None of this would be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that my current alarm clock is failing. It’s failing in a really weird way, though. It still tells the time perfectly well, and it has never failed to wake me when I’ve asked it to. The problem is it wakes me - or more to the point, it wakes my wife - when I haven’t asked it to.

In addition to my alarm schedule, it seems to have one of its own.

It has a switch to turn the alarm on and off. In the “on” setting you can choose between a beep, or the radio. The switch even has an indicator light on the display, confirming your desire to have an alarm or not. The clock doesn’t seem too concerned about the status of that switch anymore.

As an example, this past Sunday was a sleep-in morning, so I had chosen “no alarm” with the now, apparently, meaningless switch. The clock had other plans, and fired up a Spanish radio show at 5:30 am, but then kindly shut itself off almost immediately. It’s often considerate like that.

It fired up a second unasked-for and unappreciated alarm at 6:00 am, and that time I had to shut the beeping off myself.

At least my rogue alarm clock tries to keep it fun, though. In addition to random Hispanic talk shows, it occasionally decides to do a completely different alarm noise. Instead of the standard beep, beep, beep sound, it does some funky electronic celebration song, like those ancient hand-held video games made when you scored a touchdown.

That’s not an advertised feature of the clock, and there does not seem to be any switch or setting where I could choose the Mattel football fight song. It just happens every once in a while in place of the regular beep, as if to say, “Hey, it’s time to wake up, champ. Go out there and be your best self. Score a metaphorical touchdown today, winner!”

Here’s the thing: none of this bothers me enough yet to get rid of it. I think the weird celebration song is fun, and I have been blessed with the ability to fall right back to sleep if it’s not time to get up. My wife, however, was not blessed with that ability.

She does not like my alarm clock. At all.

I tried to replace it. I really did! No one makes good alarm clocks anymore. The display on mine is green, and it’s just the right amount of non-intrusive brightness. I tried one with red numbers and one with white, and they both lit up the room like a desk lamp. I think the red one was actually giving us a tan.

I would steal my wife’s alarm clock on her side of the bed, because she uses her phone now like the rest of the world, but her clock absolutely sucks at being a clock. It gains at least a minute about every two days. Left unchecked, I would be getting up an hour earlier than I wanted to within a month.

My wife has made countless pleas for me to get rid of it, along with more than a few threats on my life immediately after unscheduled alarm incidents. I’m going to have to give in sooner or later, for the sake of my marriage and health, but I think the clock just bought me a little more time, so to speak.

Our power was out overnight a few days ago, so I was forced to have my phone by my bed. My alarm clock was completely off. No display, no nothing. But wouldn’t you know it, at exactly 5:30 am, that bad boy sounded a steady beep, beep ,beep to wake me up.

No lights, no display, no power anywhere in the house, but by God, that wasn’t going to stop it from doing its job.

It may be crazy, random, broken, and possibly possessed, but it’s still strangely and incredibly reliable. How can you abandon a trusted friend like that?

I mean, I really wanted to get up at 6:00, but still…

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

How Old Am I, Anyway?

The other day I went to the bank to withdraw all of our money, because my wife and I are getting ready for graduation season. We have a senior graduating from high school, and he has friends graduating, and we also have a lot of family friends with graduating seniors, so basically, we’re giving away our money like it’s free advice.

While I wasn’t exactly excited about being broke, at least the bank was rockin’. I parked in the shade, grabbed my phone from the center console, and walked across the parking lot.  As I got up to the building, I could hear faint music playing from their outdoor speakers. As I entered the bank, the music got a little louder and clearer and I recognized the song as “Volcano Girls” by Veruca Salt.

They’re a ‘90s alt-rock band that I like, and I was immediately impressed by my bank’s music choices. I said hello to the info desk greeter girl, and she responded with a quirky smile. There was no one in line, so I was immediately waved over by a teller on the end of the row, at the low station that has a chair.

I happily plopped down in the chair and told the young lady behind the bulletproof glass that I wholeheartedly approved of their soundtrack. She smiled and laughed.

I said, “Veruca Salt. Good stuff.”

She laughed again and said, “Veruca Salt was the name of the girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Yep,” I said, “That’s where this band got their name. Anyway, well done.”

She gave me the second quirky smile I had received since walking into the bank, before she asked me what she could help me with. We were about halfway through withdrawing all of our money in various specific graduation gift denominations when I noticed my phone was getting hot against my thigh in my pocket.

I reached down and placed my hand on it and immediately felt it vibrating. Actually, more like pulsating. When I did, the cool bank soundtrack got a little muffled.

About a millisecond later I had come to the full and rather horrifying realization that I was the one providing the cool bank soundtrack. It was my phone playing “Volcano Girls” from my pants pocket.

“Oh my God, it’s my phone playing the music!” I said to the teller as I frantically yanked my phone from my pocket.

“Yes,” she laughed. “I thought you knew that.”

“No, I did not,” I confessed in the deafening silence of the stoic and professional bank setting after I had managed to stab the pause button on my fully lit Amazon Music screen. “I totally thought that was coming from the bank.”

I did not bother to ask her why she thought I would be OK with knowingly walking into dead silent banks and libraries and such, blaring ‘90s alt-rock from my pants. I was too busy being amazed/embarrassed/dismayed at the fact that I’m all of a sudden the deaf old guy who doesn’t know it’s his phone making all the racket.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I guess I have to get to an early bird dinner special and be in bed by eight o’clock.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

I Recall Not Having an Air Fryer

Have you ever had an appliance try to kill you?

I remember a long time ago in college, my roommate worked at a brewpub. He and a couple of the other unskilled and possibly intoxicated employees were installing a new overhead microwave in the kitchen.

Kids, this was back when microwaves were still a major appliance and weighed as much as a stove, or a small car. He slipped on the impeccably clean kitchen floor and the microwave came down on top of him. Being a college kid, he only ended up with a cut on his forehead and a huge goose egg. If he had been our age now, he’d be dead, or at least entirely sprained.

Luckily for the brewpub, it was partly owned by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kathy Ireland. Being a college-aged male, instead of asking the courts for half of the business, he asked his boss for a signed Kathy Ireland poster. He got a personalized get-well card and a signed poster from her, which instantly made him college royalty.

Totally worth the almost assuredly undiagnosed concussion.

As for me, I’ve had my run-ins with various power tools and industrial machinery, but I’ve never been attacked by an appliance as far as I can remember. We came close recently, though.

I got a rather stern warning on my Amazon account that something I had purchased was being recalled. The first notice took over nearly half my screen, and the notices continued almost every time I was on Amazon, so in the e-commerce world, it was a Defcon 5 situation.

Turns out it was our air fryer. Apparently, many of our same model had burst into flames in unsuspecting consumers’ homes. Flames from your air fryer, as it turns out, is not a special cooking feature. Instead, it’s a serious safety concern.

What was more concerning than our air fryer spontaneously combusting on our kitchen island, however, was the thought of being without an air fryer for even one day.

It rivals our refrigerator as our family’s favorite kitchen appliance. I would much rather be without a microwave oven, signed Kathy Ireland poster or not, than be without our air fryer.

The air fryer is magical. You can cook anything in it, and you can cook it in a tenth of the time.

Bacon? Air fryer. Crispy, no splatter all over your stove, six minutes.

Fish? Plug the air fryer in outside. Like it never happened, and perfect fish in five minutes.

Tater tots. Nothing finer. Same goes for taquitos and chicken nuggets.

Whole, giant, frozen chicken breasts? Twenty minutes to perfection.

Reheating pizza? Don’t ever even think about doing it again without an air fryer.

It even has a button for cake, but we haven’t tried that one yet.

At this point, I don’t think our boys could function without it, and to be perfectly candid, two of them are taller than me and I was concerned about what might go down if I sent it back. After weighing the options, I simply told them to keep an eye on it while they were cooking and put out any flames that might pop up.

We went that route for more than a month before they all went to Mexico with our church over spring break. It was day two without kids when my genius wife remembered that our air fryer was a ticking time bomb and reminded me.

To the COSORI company’s credit, some of their air fryers may randomly erupt into flames, but their recall process is second to none. I filled out the simple form on my phone, sent them three pictures with the old fryer in various poses, it’s cord unceremoniously cut in two, and had a brand spanking new one in about four days. All indications are that the new one is the explosion-free model, even though it looks identical to the old one.

It was back on the counter when the boys returned from Mexico, none the wiser. Possible devastating structure fire avoided.

But more importantly, we didn’t have to endure hearing about how annoying it is to use a regular oven from three teenage boys.

Thanks, COSORI. You guys rock.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

We Interrupt This Column...

We interrupt this column for some very important medicinal appointments. You see, the boys and I ran the annual Run Rocklin 5K on Sunday, and even though they’ve been running it for years with me, and they are getting older and stronger, they all sucked this year. Well, actually Son Number Three did OK-ish, but the other two sucked. I also sucked. It was basically a suck-fest.

This has me very concerned about the health of our legs and lungs. Rocklin is only a few hundred feet above sea level, so there should have been no shortage of oxygen for us to use, but I for one couldn’t find nearly as much as I needed. The boys seemed to be having the same issue as me, albeit in a quieter and less obvious way. But their finishing times told the tale – Not enough oxygen and weak legs.

It was obviously time to take us all for a series of tests.

This leads us to the reason we are interrupting today’s column. Son Number Two happens to turn seventeen years old today, and he doesn’t have any tests scheduled at school. His two brothers don’t have any scheduled classroom tests either.

All this great lack of school test timing happened to coincide perfectly with the fact that it snowed about eight to ten inches in the Sierras yesterday, so we have the perfect storm, so to speak. Which brings us to the reason we have to interrupt this column today – namely, I’m not here.

I mean, we really had no choice but to get all three boys and me up to a high-altitude testing ground, where we’re able to run our legs through a long series of rigorous tests in a low-oxygen environment. And since it’s a low-temperature day, we’re also able to visually monitor our lung functions.

Look, I don’t like them missing school any more than they do for these kinds of medicinal appointments, but gosh darn it, the health of our children will always come first.

Do I care too much? Perhaps. But we will stay up here and run these tests until our legs can’t stand it anymore.

We’ll get to the bottom of things. And we’ll probably get there pretty fast.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

We Possess Sprinklers

I noticed one of our clumps of decorative grass by our front walk was looking a little brownish the other day (read: completely dead-looking), and realized I hadn’t turned on the sprinkler system yet.

Spring has sprung, but I had been lulled into a state of non-sprinklering by the winter we just had here in Northern California, which can only be described as a six-month monsoon with slight pauses for drizzle.

So yesterday I flipped the sprinkler controls in the garage to “on,” and this morning they ran for the first time this year. About an hour after they were supposed to have been finished, I was out on the driveway and noticed the three sprinklers on the small lawn to the right of the driveway were still on and sending quite a bit of water down the street to the storm drain.

It was odd that they hadn’t shut off when they were supposed to, but what made it even more odd was the fact that they are tied in with about half the sprinklers across the driveway on the main lawn, and those were off. So one of my sprinkler valves came on but failed to turn off, but some of its sprinklers were off and some were on.

If you know anything at all about sprinkler valves and piping, you know that what I just described is impossible, without demonic sprinkler possession being in play.

I went to all five valves and turned them on and off manually. That did not solve the problem.

I went to the sprinkler controller in the garage and turned it off. They kept running. That should also be impossible.

OK, maybe the sprinkler controller has shorted internally, I thought to myself. So, I actually disconnected each and every valve control wire from their terminals. There was no longer any possible way the valve could be signaled to be on.

The sprinklers kept running.

It was at this point that I got down on my knees in my garage and prayed for God to exorcise the evil irrigation demon that had possessed my home. I prayed hard, because I had other things to do with my morning than battle the Demon of Irritrol, but the good Lord did not stop the raging waters.

He did, however, provide me with some clarity. As I prayed for the sake of my water bill and protection from the rath of the California Eternal Drought Coalition Forces, it finally occurred to me that if half the sprinklers on one valve weren’t on, then those sprinklers weren’t on that valve. The system is wired to appear and operate as if the sprinklers on both sides of the driveway are on one valve, but they couldn’t possibly be, demonic possession or not. Water just doesn’t work that way.

So somewhere underground, that control wire from terminal 2 is connected to another control wire that goes to another valve that controls my three rogue sprinklers, and at some point during the monsoon months, that valve got corroded enough that it no longer shuts off automatically.


But where could that mystery valve be, you ask? It’s buried underground in the backyard in a valve box that was abandoned years ago when we put the pool in. I thought the valves in that box only controlled the backyard lawn sprinklers that were dug up by the pool excavator. I was obviously mistaken. At least one of them is pigtail-wired off Valve Number 2 to run three sprinklers next to my driveway that don’t shut off anymore.

Demonic possession officially ruled out. Thank you, Jesus?

So, after shutting off the water to the whole system to stop the flooding, I wrote myself a note to spend Saturday on an exploratory digging expedition.

It was my wife’s idea to have kids and buy a house. I wanted to live on a boat. Boats never have sprinkler issues, because you don’t need a pool.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Construction Rapido

All three of our boys are in Mexico right now over spring break. They are in Mexicali with a huge group of other high school kids from our church, so at this point, I’d like to formally apologize to the country of Mexico for anything my children may say or do while in your beautiful country. Deep down in their hearts they mean well, I think, but they are complete yahoos, especially when in close proximity to each other.

The group is building houses and holding mini church camps for the local kids. Son Number One and Two are on a construction team building a two-bedroom home for a family in need, and Son Number Three is on an “Impact” team, getting his butt kicked in soccer by niños y niñas half his age.

This is Number Three’s first year going on the trip, but One and Two got to go last year to build a house, and the stories they brought back were amazing. I mean, the family they build it for was great, and they were incredibly grateful, and it changed how my sons view the world and got them to understand how blessed they are to live in America with our abundance and prosperity and access to opportunities and all of that good stuff, but that’s not what was most amazing.

The thing that blew my mind about the trip was how fast you can build a house in a country with basically no laws.

If you ignore the whole child labor law hassle it really opens up the workforce. Granted, your average high school freshman isn’t necessarily a huge asset to a construction team, but you always need grunt labor alongside the skilled labor. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on human resources issues and paperwork with child labor, because they have no rights anyway.

The house they built had full electrical, with ceiling lights and wall outlets and everything, but that goes incredibly fast when you can just install all the wires and then immediately cover them all up with drywall without waiting for a city building inspector to show up and check everything first.

The same goes for the framing, plumbing, insulation, windows, roof trusses, shingles, etc. Just build it and move on. Get at least one person on the project with construction knowledge and a plan, add the proper amount of high school monkeys, and you can build an entire house in three days.

Literally. Three days. They had another day and a half of exterior and interior trim work and painting, but the house was up, functional, and weather-tight in three days.

This year’s trip leaders are keeping the Instagram feed stocked with enough progress photos that we’re able to tell that the current house is almost finished, and also, everyone seems to still have all their fingers. That’s a win.

If my Grandpa was still alive, he’d tell you about the time when as a young married man, he bought a lot in town, dug a basement, bought an old house across town, moved it over on a large truck, and set it on top of his new basement. My mom grew up in that house, and we got to go see it a few years ago, still standing.

Things used to be simpler, and they still are in places like Mexico. If you bring some construction know-how to the party, you can get a lot done in a short period of time. And it can be accomplished very inexpensively when you rope a bunch of kids into helping.

But only if you’re able to take away their cell phones.

You see, that’s the other thing that makes this all possible. Along with the absence of building inspectors and over-regulation, the kids don’t have access to their phones for the whole week. They are amazingly able to concentrate on and complete tasks.

If they were allowed to have their phones, that three-day house build would turn into six weeks, with 57,000 “I’m building a house” TikTok dance videos and two million selfies posing with power tools.

I don’t think my grandpa would approve.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Noble Nobel

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, industrialist, and philanthropist, even though no one knows what those last two words mean. He had a whole bunch of patents in his lifetime, but he is most famous for two of his inventions. He created the Nobel Prize in his will, and while he was still alive, he created the greatest fishing tool ever known to man - dynamite.

Prior to the invention of dynamite, which is very stable, people had to blow things up with nitroglycerin, and they were forced to fish with a string on the end of a pole. Nitroglycerin was very unstable, so mostly what you blew up was yourself, and fishing with a string is very slow. Nobel solved both of those problems at once. You can bang the stick of dynamite around on the bottom of your boat all day long without fear of creating any sudden new holes in yourself or the vessel, and when you light that stick and toss it overboard, you can catch up to 200 fish at once.

For these reasons, Nobel became fabulously wealthy, and used that wealth in his will to fund the Nobel Prize, which consists of a whole bunch of people living off his money all year while they choose up to five worthy recipients in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace to receive a cash prize, a gold medal to wear at the grocery store and to bed, and a fairly cheap wooden plaque to hang at the office. The 2022 cash amount per Nobel prize is 10 million Swedish kronor, but in an effort to keep up with modern times, it will shift to one Bitcoin per prize in 2023, or approximately sixty-four U.S. cents.

Nobel prizes have been won for a lot of good inventions over the years, like insulin, cures for malaria, wireless telegraphy (telegraphy stuff without wires), and even cathode rays, which help with wireless telegraphy. They also give them out for literature, but that is a sore subject for me since they are very overdue in their consideration of my groundbreaking literary work with The Very Sneezy Garbage Truck.

My own personal animosity with the Nobel society aside, I’d like to point out a fact about the prize. Sure, they have recognized a lot of great inventions and works, but they are missing a huge opportunity to recognize and celebrate the little people that truly make life worth living. After all, it was Alfred Nobel’s dying wish that his award be given to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind."

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. The seat belt is great and everything, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying the heated seat has had a greater benefit on humankind. I’ve only needed my seatbelt to save my life a handful of times, but the heated seat has saved my wife’s life on countless occasions. This has consequently averted countless life-threatening situations for me, therefore conferring a great benefit to my own life.

What about the burrito? I think we can all agree that it has been a huge success, and I’m sure the inventor of the burrito is still enjoying his or her Nobel prize. But what about the breakfast burrito? What about the man or woman out there who looked at the standard lunch or dinner burrito and said, “This is great and all, but I can fill this thing with breakfast also, so you can have it for all three meals today.” I’m not sure there has ever been another human being more deserving of a Nobel prize than the breakfast burrito person, whomever they are.

And what about the person that invented the ice cream waffle cone? The TV remote control. Toilet paper. Disposable diapers. Putting lime in your beer when eating spicy tacos. Four-wheel drive. Yoga pants.

You see where I’m going here, Nobel Committee. Let’s start using some of that giant trust fund to recognize more of our true heroes.

They all deserve our gratitude. Especially the breakfast burrito person!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day - Repost

Friday was St. Patrick’s Day, a generally festive time for American humans, but a stressful time for the fish of the Chicago area. Can you imagine if your entire neighborhood got painted green overnight? Freaky. Anyway, us humans got “lucky” this year with the “holiday” landing on a Friday, which is certainly better than Thursday last year or Wednesday the year before, but still not ideal.

That’s because St. Patrick’s Day is the Cinco de Mayo of March. Both are on a fixed calendar date, which makes no sense, and we don’t get work off for either of them, which makes even less sense. Both have some amount of green added to the beer, and no one from the holidays’ countries of origin celebrates them. Here in the good ol’ USA, however, we embrace them like they were the Fourth of July or New Years. And much like New Years, no one knows what we’re celebrating or why. But we’re all Irish for one day in March, and we’re all Mexican for uno dia en Mayo.

The overwhelming problem is that the only people who get to celebrate these two “holidays” with any regularity are students. Specifically, college kids and elementary schoolers. The college kids use the days as excuses to party, and the elementary schools use them as excuses to make leprechaun traps, Mexican flags, and most importantly, eat cookies.

Meanwhile, we adults have to wait until March 17th or May 5th land on a weekend before we get to party anymore. Why should the students get to have all the fun? Why shouldn’t the parents get to participate?

We used to have fun on St. Patrick’s Day. We used to drink green beer and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

We used to have fun on Cinco de Mayo. We used to drink Corona with lime and eat discounted tacos by the truckload while wearing giant sombreros, and actively look for other college kids of the opposite sex who weren’t wearing green so we could pinch them, as is the standard custom.

Did we know why we did any of this? Of course not. Did we care that we didn’t know? Of course not. We cared about doing our part to uphold centuries of fake traditions. We cared about beer with the appropriate green holiday additive. We cared about pinching cute members of the opposite sex. We cared.

I’m tired of being left out. I’m tired of not caring. I want to care again. We should get to party, too. It’s only right, since we’re the ones paying for all of this anyway. Why shouldn’t we get these days off work?

Why? I’ll tell you why. Probably because someone still needs to pay for all this, that’s why. But are we going to let that stop us? Heck no! There are plenty of other days during the year we can work. Although, we do already have a lot of holidays…

OK, let’s compromise. We could combine St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo into one holiday to minimize the work stoppage but still have some fun. What do you say?

I knew you’d be on board!

Ladies and gentlemen, I officially propose a new national holiday.

We will compromise on the month and have the new holiday in April, since it has always been a travesty that we don’t get April 27th off for President Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday either. We will anchor it around that date but it will need to float, of course, to always fall on a Friday so this party is a three-day weekend. It’s only fitting to include Grant, since he really should be the patron saint of these two holidays anyway. You may not know this, but in addition to being a war hero and a Roman god, Ulysses was a prolific inventor and is actually responsible for creating, among many other things, the taco, green beer, the piñata, and Ireland.

We shall call the new holiday either Dia de St. Mayo Patrick de Grant, or Cinco de Ulysses Patrick’s Day. We can vote on that later.

As far as logistics go, we will simply combine all the current fake holiday traditions into one big three-day weekend of awesome.

The holiday uniforms can remain mostly undefined, but should include the required holiday colors; green, white and red, with an obvious emphasis on green and large sombreros.

Mariachi bands will need to shift their focus a little and include bagpipes and plaid. Irish heel-clicking salsa dancing with be a natural follower to the new groove.

The main holiday beverage will obviously be green Corona with yellow lemon wedges instead of limes to signify lucky gold. Cuervo gold tequila will remain unchanged, since it satisfies both holiday motifs. As an alternative to Mexican tequila, Irish mojitos will be made out of crushed clover and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Red, white, and green tortilla chips will be served with cabbage salsa, and children across the land will spend the new holiday smacking leprechaun-shaped piñatas filled with gold coin chocolates and corned beef taquitos.

We can work out the rest of the details later. I’m not really sure who’s in charge of new holiday creation over in D.C., so if one of you could forward this on to them, that’d be great.

I’m going to get back to my green Corona.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Pie Day

Yesterday, 3/14, was Pie Day. Mathematicians will argue that it’s supposed to be written “Pi Day,” but they are wrong. Many folks out there remain confused about what Pi actually is. It’s not your fault. The public school system failed you.

Allow me to clear it up for you.

Pi is misnamed. You see, Pi is really derived from pie, but mathematicians were too lazy to keep including the “e” for some reason. Pi, of course, is the numerical value of the culinary measure of how much pie is left, using the mathematical relationship between the circumference of the outer crust of the pie and the length across the center of the pie, where the fork marks are.

Pi’s value changes based on how many slices of the pie have been eaten. Even if there is only one slice missing and you can still measure across the middle of the pie in most places, the circumference of the crust has nevertheless been reduced by one slice worth, or in mathematical terms, “one crust radian segment.”

The value of Pi changes constantly, but never repeats, because obviously no one ever adds slices back to a pie. The larger the value of Pi, the happier you are, because there is still more pie left. Unfortunately, in my experience, the value of Pi is usually equal to zero by the time I get home, because my teenage boys ate all of it.

We were miseducated in our early years regarding Pi. For instance, one falsehood perpetrated upon us by the math teachers of America was the idea that pie are squared. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pie are round. Cornbread are squared. It’s natural to be confused about what Pi is based on the lack of educational veracity we experienced.

Can we ever calculate Pi’s true value? While some mathematicians still foolishly argue this point, the obvious answer is no. Pies come in all different sizes, and are either being cooked (expanding), being cooled on the windowsill (contracting), or being eaten. Pi is never a static number, and it varies from pie to pie, so you don’t need to worry about what it is. Don’t beat yourself up about not understanding it. You were misinformed. Again, it’s not your fault. Just enjoy that slice of pie, and know that you are reducing the value of Pi by eating it.

“What about other things that call themselves pies, but aren’t dessert?” you might be asking yourself. “Are they subject to the Pi calculations as well?”

Great question! Yes they are, in certain circumstances. (Or should I say, in certain circumferences? Hahahahaha. Oh, man! Great math joke.)

Pizza pies fall under all the same Pi rules, unless they are one of those rectangular deep-dish pepperonis from Little Caesars. In that case you need square roots.

Chicken pot pies use the same calculations as regular pies, but Pi is always a smaller starting number if they are the little personal ones. Also, don’t let the crust temperature fool you. The inside is lava hot. Please don’t burn the roof of your mouth!

Shepherd’s Pie is where we fall into a gray area, mostly because no one is exactly sure what it is.

Why is Pie Day on 3/14? No one knows for sure. It’s just one of those made-up holidays and they needed to pick a date. Why was Blaze Pizza selling two-topping pizza pies for only $3.14 yesterday? Again, we don’t really know, other than the price corresponding to the date. We guess that was the reason.

The only thing we know for sure: The line at Blaze Pizza was much too long, and definitely not worth the difference between the regular price and $3.14, no matter how big the starting Pi number is for one of those bad boys. Oh, well.

Again, glad to help clear things up. Enjoy that pie!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 8, 2023

How Not to Internet

So, apparently, I follow the Reno division of the National Weather Service on Twitter. Or they follow me. I’m not really sure. All I know is that I get alerts about their posts now, which I don’t mind this winter, because I’m interested in how many more damned feet of snow are going to fall in the Sierras before we can finally go back up to snowboard. The current answer is, “A lot more.”

I swear, if anyone even so much as whispers the word “drought” this summer, I’m going to lose it. But I digress…

The other day, the NWS Reno feed (Check out all the exciting weather action on Twitter @NWSReno) had a tweet about the “atmospheric river” headed our way tomorrow. We’ve been hearing that term a lot lately around here in the news. It’s an exciting and fancy weather term, so no one in the weather reporting business misses an opportunity to throw it out there.

While “atmospheric river” is getting the feel of being overplayed, one follower of the NWS Reno feed put on a clinic on how not to respond in these types of term overuse situations.

Howard Smith replied: Talking about an atmospheric river is kinda like the Sahara desert ( desert desert). If you remember your fluid dynamics the entire atmosphere acts as a river!!!!

This is a fabulous example of how not to internet. What Howard is really saying here, to the tens of people who also follow NWS Reno, is this – “Hello, my name is Howard, and I don’t have many people in my life who validate me. I think I am very smart, and I want you to think I’m smart also, even if my boss never tells me I’m smart, even though I’m way smarter than him and should have his job, and I would have his job if it wasn’t for all the bs office politics and Brenda in HR who definitely has it out for me ever since I pointed out that she shouldn’t feed her cat so much because it looks really fat in all the pictures on her desk, and that maybe she should think about cutting back on the treats herself while she’s at it.”

Howard is obviously interneting wrong. I read Howard’s tweet and just shook my head. That’s an example of interneting correctly.

If I was interneting like Howard, I would have responded: “Gosh, Howard, for such an obviously intelligent guy such as yourself, your grammar is as bad as your need to feel smart! I’ll let the “kinda” slide since tweets are informal, but if you remember your third-grade punctuation lessons, informality doesn’t excuse the glaringly obvious missing comma after “dynamics.” Also, what’s with the space between your opening round bracket (you probably call it a parenthesis, but that’s actually the term for the word or phrase inside the brackets) for your parenthetical phrase and the first word of said parenthetical phrase? That’s not supposed to be there, brainiac. And four exclamation points? Bro. And bagging on saying, “Sahara desert?” Really? The Arabic word for desert is “sahra,” and “sahara” is its pluralization. So, if you’re going to be all cutesy and pretend that we should all be using Arabic words in our everyday English communications, you really should have said “Sahara Deserts.” That would have actually been grammatically correct. It still wouldn’t have made you seem smart to anyone, or morally superior in any way, but at least it wouldn’t have been so sadly, sadly wrong.”

You can see the obvious difference between the correct interneting reaction and this incorrect, desperate cry for help style.

NWS Reno took an intermediate approach with Captain Smart Guy. They didn’t internet poorly, necessarily, but they did respond, which I would have counseled against, had they asked.

They referred Howard to a helpful article from on what an atmospheric river actually is: a flowing column of condensed water vapor in the atmosphere responsible for significant levels of rain and snow, especially in the western United States.

Take that, Super Guy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which employs people that surely understand fluid dynamics slightly better than you (even though you should obviously be running NOAA, and probably would be if your boss and Brenda didn’t have it out for you), thinks that an atmospheric river is not only a real thing, but also grammatically correct. I’ll bet they even call it the Sahara Desert.

Internet better in the future, Howard.

Regarding NOAA’s definition, I’m not sure why the western United States gets to have all the atmospheric fun, but if you’ll excuse me, I need to contact them and ask if they can do anything to divert the river.

I want to go snowboarding!

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Snowmageddon - Part II

Our February 23rd major weather event in Rocklin, California was one for the record books! Frozen precipitation of some kind fell from the sky onto our town for minutes. (We have incredibly low standards for our record books.)

While the storm was no doubt unusual, it was also very confusing. You notice I didn’t say that snow fell from the sky, although, many people swear that’s what happened. Others aren’t so sure. They say the Inuit people have more than fifty terms for different kinds of snow. Rocklin is currently giving the Inuit a run for their money.

Almost immediately after the minutes of winter wildness, we began to hear the term “graupel” pop up in our various news feeds. Graupel is, of course, when a snowflake falls through a layer of air containing supercooled water droplets. This causes those water droplets to “rime,” or instantly freeze onto the snowflakes.

“What the hail are you talking about?” you might be asking. No, I’m not talking about hail. That particular phenomenon occurs when rain drops get carried upward by crazy-ass weather inside thunder clouds, to a higher, colder elevation, where they freeze and grow until they are too heavy for the updraft, then fall to the earth and destroy your car, if you live in Texas.

Graupel – which rimes with either “apple,” “topple,” “lapel,” or “Inuit.” No one is sure – is not solid ice and dangerous as hail. It’s crunchy and fun. If you are having trouble envisioning what graupel looks like, it might help to know that the name comes from the German word for pearl barley, so that should clear it up.

But, I’m not at all convinced that what we experienced wasn’t just regular old snow. When I ran outside to enjoy the frozen water of some variety falling from the sky, it was definitely mixed with rain. I was wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, so it was very easy to tell that half of what was falling on my arm was plain old rain, and the other half was frozen water.

I could not readily distinguish if the snowflakes had been rimed into graupel or not, but they did look a little weird. We were told in no uncertain terms, however, that it was not sleet. That’s because no one knows what sleet is. Not even the Inuit.

One thing was for sure. It wasn’t cold enough at ground level for any of it to stick. And it certainly didn’t get cold enough overnight for any of our atmospheric water droplets to rime into hoar frost, so that was also a win.

Since our exciting hoarless rimed graupel morning here in Rocklin, another slightly more significant weather event has developed. Winter storm Quest, already in a state near you, has since deposited somewhere in the neighborhood of seven feet of new snow in the Sierra Nevadas.

About an hour east of here, the main interstate highways have been closed down for the better part of three days now with near-constant blizzard conditions. If your online order is delayed, you no longer need to wonder what happened to it. Your Amazon package has been flash-frozen in a 55-foot trailer on the side of I-80 somewhere. Please be patient.

It has been wild up there. The power had been knocked out by the storm, but I finally got a call through to our favorite ski resort yesterday, because I was very curious. I asked them to go out in the blizzard for me and see if they were experiencing any graupel with the other types of snow.

They told me to go to hail.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Look, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we may have a catastrophic situation brewing here. My sleepy little town of Rocklin, California – elevation 249 feet above sea level – is about to get hit with a sizeable weather event.

We are currently bracing for a major winter storm. The grim forecast is calling for as many as fifteen, to possibly even twenty, minutes of snow, scheduled to slam into our unsuspecting hamlet tomorrow morning at 7:00 am.

Do you have any idea what that means? This has the potential for total chaos. We would be staring down the barrel of massive school closures, if we were in school right now. Ironically, the kids are currently off for “ski week.” They’ll probably be skiing down main street tomorrow morning.

Stores may or may not be selling out of Gatorade and AAA batteries as we speak. All I can tell you is the one I went to the other day had very questionable stocking levels.

Hundreds of families probably Googled “Tesla Solar Batteries” in just the last few hours, all of them coming to the same conclusion – they still don’t make financial sense.

But what does it matter? Our solar panels will soon be covered with God-only-knows how many individual flakes of snow, possibly even forming a layer. How in the hell are those things supposed to produce energy for us when they’re virtually frozen solid??

How will we get to work? How will we get our expensive drive-thru coffee? How will we even get out of our houses? Not a single one of us owns a snow shovel.

On the plus side, hundreds of family pets will see snow for the first time. Some children may even get to make snowmen in their front yards. They could be up to five or maybe even six inches in height. (The snowmen, not the children.)

By the way, is it still snowman? I mean, it’s 2023, so is it officially snowperson now? Or snowfigure? I’m really not sure, but I guess it might all depend on where you put the carrot?

Anyway… Amid the ensuing chaos, at least the kids and their pets will be having a good time. That is, if they can even make it from the front door to the lawn through the blowing drifts of sno… Oh, wait, hang on. Nope. The forecast has changed. Looks like it’s just going to be just rain now instead of snow.

Well, that’s a relief. Do you think I can return all this Gatorade and these AAA’s? Or maybe I should donate them to the folks up in the Sierras, about an hour east of here. They’re scheduled for three feet of snow and 70 mph winds.

Nah, they’ll be fine. They’re used to that sort of thing…

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Super Surprising

Well, the Super Bowl was this past Sunday, and as usual, we all learned a ton of surprising facts. For instance, we learned that musician Dave Grohl is not a Canadian. Who knew? He did however star in a Crown Royal ad during the game where he thanked Canada for a bunch of good stuff they produced or invented. The list was often shocking.

Dave, while not on the list himself, revealed that musicians from Canada include the band Rush, folk singer Joni Mitchell, and international superstar Celine Dion – a fact Ms. Dion managed to keep hidden until just this past weekend.

Canadian-born actors included Martin Short, Seth Rogen, and Michael Cera, best known for always being the weird kid in everything. Canada has also given us Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, co-stars of the hit show Schitt’s Creek. In fact, most of the cast was Canadian, which brings up some collusion and possible tax evasion questions about the show, but we’re willing to overlook everything if Canada will agree to take Chris Elliot and never give him back.

The list of foods that Canada can take credit for was equally surprising. Poutine, while delicious, was not a shock, but peanut butter was. I always thought it was invented by George Washington Carver, based solely on an Eddie Murphy SNL skit from my youth, but as it turns out some Canadian named Marcellus Gilmore Edson was the first to make peanut paste, way back in 1884. American Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of the Cheerio, later patented a process to make peanut butter from flakes of corn, if I have read Wikipedia correctly.

Canada also blessed the world with instant potatoes, canola oil, and amazingly, the Hawaiian pizza. I think they should only get one-quarter credit on that, though, since they used our pineapple, our state name, and pizza is obviously Italian. The only thing they provided, besides a pizza topping combination that divides the human race into unwavering camps, is the Canadian bacon.

Canada’s list of products they can take credit for was impressive. If it was not for our friendly neighbors to the north, we apparently wouldn’t have the paint roller, plastic trash bags, the ironing board, egg cartons, or the whoopee cushion. If you are somehow unfamiliar, Wikipedia provides the most sterile, textbook description ever: A whoopee cushion is a practical joke device involving flatulence humor, which produces a noise resembling human flatulence. Thank you, Canada, for 90+ years of hilarious flatulence-related humor!

In the electricity department, Canada has provided us with the electric wheelchair and the walkie talkie – or hand-held, portable, two-way radio transceiver, if you’re Wikipedia. Coincidently, no child, American or Canadian, has ever picked up a walkie talkie without providing the person on the other end with free flatulence humor.

Canada also gave us portable electricity itself, in the form of the battery. The first true battery was of course invented by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1800.  He also later invented the Chevy Volt. It was Canadian Lewis Frederick Urry, however, in 1927, that perfected Volta’s work in the form of the first long-lasting alkaline battery, six hundred AAA’s of which now power the Chevy Volt.

It was the sports category that really took us all by surprise, however. Canada is responsible for inventing the instant replay, which Eagles fans all wish was used on a certain holding call on Sunday. Hockey came as no shock to anyone, but basketball was unexpected. I give Canada half credit on this one as well, since basketball was invented here in the United States by a Canadian-born gym teacher, who had nothing more than a bouncy ball, two peach baskets, and a dream.

But, bar-none, the most shocking, surprising, unexpectedly mind-blowing revelation of the night was finding out how much money the National Football League is willing to spend on a baby announcement for a singer not even affiliated with their organization.

This year’s game forwent the traditional musical halftime show performance to instead spend countless millions of dollars to announce Rihanna’s new pregnancy and feature a dramatic reenactment of the human biology behind her conception.

Rihanna, dressed in red, played the part of the egg, and all of her backup dancers were dressed in white with big hoods. They played the sperm. It was as riveting as it was educational.

Oh, there was one other surprising fact from Dave Grohl – Canada invented American football.

Thanks, eh?

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

An Open Letter to China's Weather Research Guys

Dear Chinese Weather Scientists,

Sorry about accidentally shooting down your giant weather balloon! That was our bad, and totally accidental, just like it was an accident that your weather research balloon veered off course and traveled across the entire length of the United States, passing over each one of our states that happen to have missile silos. We get it. Accidents happen.

That being the case, I’m sure you guys understand that Andy feels really bad about shooting it out of the sky. He was the guy flying our F-22 Raptor Weather Research Plane near your weather research balloon. As you know, accidents happen, and he shot one of our AIM-9X Supersonic, Heat-Seeking, Air-to-Air Weather Research Missiles into what he thought was a 200-foot, perfectly round cloud. Turns out it was your balloon. Whoopsie.

You see, we regularly fly our F-22 Raptor Weather Research Planes around and shoot our AIM-9X Supersonic, Heat-Seeking, Air-to-Air Weather Research Missiles at clouds, for weather research purposes. We want to know if the clouds contain any heat. If the missile goes for the cloud, we alert our weather researchers that we’ve got a hot cloud coming. If the missile goes around the cloud, it’s a cold cloud and there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Funny story: Steve, another F-22 Raptor Weather Research Plane pilot, saw what we now know was your innocent weather balloon over Montana, but he saw all your weather surveillance equipment underneath it and didn’t know what it was, so he shot at a different cloud instead.

Good thing, because we now know your sophisticated weather sensing camera equipment under your weather balloon was the length of two or three school busses, and weighed more than a ton. Our government officials gave Steve an “atta boy” for not dropping that stuff on Montana, for fear of hitting someone.

The residents of Montana disagree however, because they know the truth: You could drop the state of Wyoming onto the state of Montana and not hit anyone. There’s only one person per six trillion square miles in Montana. There’s also a couple missile silos. You might have seen those when you were looking downward for all the weather.

Incidentally, great job on building such an impressive weather research balloon! Our Statue of Liberty is only 151 feet tall. Your 200-foot-tall balloon would have looked almost 49 feet taller than Lady Liberty if you’d accidentally veered it a couple hundred miles north. But then it wouldn’t have accidentally flown over all the missile states.

Some good news, though. Our Navy is currently fishing your innocent weather surveillance balloon out of the ocean as we speak, so I’m sure we’ll get all your important weather data back to you in a jiffy.

But if the data happens to be too wet and damaged to be useful, we assume you can just default to all the weather research data you’ve been collecting on TikTok as a good backup source.

Stay awesome,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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