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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