Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Leap Year - Repost

February 29th is tomorrow. There isn’t supposed to be a February 29th. Not normally, anyway. It’s a leap year. The whole concept of leap year, and our calendar in general, is very strange. I have never agreed with how our calendar works, and I have decided that it is time to stop the madness. I hereby, once again, propose that the world adopt the Smidge Calendar.

Our current calendar is complicated. This stems from the fact that the earth takes 365.2422 days to go around the sun. If we didn’t do the leap years, we would lose six hours off the calendar every year. That’s 24 days off in a hundred years. Not good. I mean, what if your birthday was in that lost month? No party for you. What if the lost month turned out to be October, and we lost Oktoberfest? Totally unacceptable.

A long time ago, Julius Caesar, a huge fan of Oktoberfest and birthdays, introduced leap years to correct for the 0.2422 day problem. Julius decided they would do a leap day every four years no matter what. That is actually too many, since the day fraction is 0.24 and not 0.25, so things started getting out of whack. Fifteen hundred years later, after people got tired of spring starting in the middle of summer, someone with a big brain and an abacus developed a formula. To be a leap year, the year must be evenly divisible by four. If the year is also evenly divisible by 100, then it is not a leap year, unless it is also evenly divisible by 400. Simple, right?

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, and I don’t really have a problem with the leap year math. It’s necessary. What is not necessary is having our months all different. Why have some months with 30 days, others with 31, and one with variable days? It’s too complicated. When I was a kid, my dad taught me a way to tell how many days a month has in it. You count on your knuckles. Start on the knuckle of your index finger as January. Count the months down your fist, landing alternately on your knuckles, and the valleys between your knuckles. When you get to your pinkie knuckle (July), start over on your index knuckle (August). If you are on a knuckle, the month has 31 days. If you are in a valley, it has 30, unless it’s February, then you have to refer to the complicated formula.

The knuckle trick is handy (get it?), but it shouldn’t be necessary. With the Smidge Calendar, you will never need to count on your knuckles like an ape again. My months will all have 28 days. Gone will be the days of not knowing what day of the week the 12th of March is. The days will always be the same number. The month will always start on Monday the 1st. Sundays will always be the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th. Simple and easy.

Holidays will always be on the same day. You will always know when Thanksgiving is going to fall, and with the new calendar, we can move some of the more flexible holidays to always fall on a Monday or a Friday. Boom, more three-day weekends. You’re welcome!

Now, with 28-day months, we'll need to have 13 of them, to make a year.  We’ll have to come up with a name for the new month. We'll make it fun and have a national contest, and pick the most popular submission. This will be a worldwide calendar, of course, but we'll retain naming rights. This is our idea, and everyone else can just get on board. It won't be a hard sell, due to the New Year’s factor.

Thirteen months at 28 days each only gets you 364 days. The all-important 365th day will occur on what is currently known as January 1st. However, it will now be known only as New Year’s Day. It will not have a number. It will not be a Monday. It will simply be "New Year’s Day," and it will be a freebie. No work will occur. Nothing will be accomplished. It's a phantom day that doesn't exist on the calendar. Relax and enjoy!

Since we can't do anything about the 0.2422 day problem, we will continue with the current leap year formula, and any leap year will have an extra bonus day, known as New Year’s Weekend. Two totally free days every four years (unless the year is evenly divisible by 100 but not 400, obviously). Winning!

While you will be encouraged to do nothing on New Year’s Day and Weekend, inevitably, a certain amount of children will be born on these phantom days. This is where the Smidge Calendar also has a bonus financial planning aspect. Any parent having a child on New Year’s Day will get to choose whether their new child's official birthday will be December 28th or January 1st. This will allow them to decide which tax year they would like their new deduction and tax credit to fall in. Just a happy bonus feature of a new and improved system.

In fact, I don't mean to brag, but the Smidge Calendar has no discernible flaws. It's way better that the current random 12- month system. The only potential downside I can see is a slight long-term hit to the calendar industry, since calendars will now be reusable.

Now, before all you accountants out there have a conniption fit, screaming about financial quarters, please don’t get your starched white knickers in a twist. We'll still have quarters, they're just 13 weeks long now. You're supposed to be good at math, so deal with it. Like I said, no flaws.

I anticipate immediate adoption of the Smidge Calendar as soon as the word gets out. The only thing left to do is figure out where to put the new month. I'm thinking between September and October. They always seemed like they needed to be separated a little more. We could call it Smidgetober. It would be a fun month. We could introduce Smidgetoberfest, the Oktoberfest pre-party.

Just food for thought.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

This Column Continues to Go Downhill

Our regularly scheduled column has been rudely preempted by Ski Week, yet again.

Yes, that’s right, I said Ski Week. Instead of celebrating the glorious birthdays of Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison on two separate Mondays in February, like we all did when we were young, our school district changed things up a few years ago.

They tacked on three extra president’s days (both of the Adamses and James Buchanan, strictly because of his kick-ass hair) to the previous two, and lined them all up in a row this week. This phenomenon is nicknamed “Ski Week,” so the idea, apparently, is that we’re all supposed to head up to the slopes and spend the education-free week on a ski vacation.

I have always had trouble writing this column on ski week. In the past, I have railed against the policy of keeping all three of our boys home for nine days in a row, because we never went on a week-long ski vacation, and therefore I was trapped in the house refereeing the World Brothers Wrestling Federation and getting nothing else done.

Now that the boys are older, I’m having trouble writing this column in the middle of February for a different reason. We are finally able to embrace the concept of ski week, or in our case, snowboard week, so now I’m still getting nothing done, but it’s a lot more satisfying!

This happened to be a special ski week for two reasons. The first being that we didn’t get to go snowboarding at all on Ski Week 2023, because it was snowing so hard all week the roads were closed. Too much of a good thing, I guess. The second reason this week is special is because it saw the return of Son Number Three to the slopes.

The rest of us have been going up the hill whenever we could since December, but Number Three wasn’t able to join us due to his collarbone. The collarbone he snapped in half while snowboarding on the very first day we went this season. On the second run of the first day, Son Number Three decided that was the right time to air out the big jumps.

His version of the story involved massive air and an eight-foot ditch he had to clear (reports are fuzzy on whether it was eight feet deep, eight feet wide, or both). It apparently all would have been fine except for another little bumpy dip at the landing zone. The board nosed in and he landed superman-style onto the unforgiving snow (if Superman flew with his arms back at his sides and rammed things with his collarbone).

He is currently leading his brothers in the broken bones department by a score of 2-0-0. He loves to beat them at things, but I’m not sure he’s so happy about it in this case.

He broke it on December 17, and February 17 was his all-clear date to get back to contact sports. That means he can finally suit up for lacrosse again, but more importantly, he can also strap his snowboard back on his feet!

So, you can see why I’m having trouble getting anything done this week. I mean, when you get cleared for active duty on the Saturday before ski week, you really have no choice. You must get up the hill and make up for lost time. And you must do it for multiple days when the fresh snow just keeps falling every night, begging you to come see how sturdy the new collarbone is.

I’m happy to report his triumphant return to the mountains has been a success, and both collarbones remain intact.

For now.

I mean, you just never know. These boys go pretty hard.

See you soon,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Send a PalmerTine This Year

It’s Valentine’s Day again. Yes, gentlemen, it’s today! If that caught you off guard, and you are starting to panic, you can relax. I’ve got you covered. You can send your sweetheart a love poem this year.

When I think of epic love poems, one man immediately comes to mind. Yes, obviously, Robert Palmer. That sharp-dressed man from the ‘80s, always surrounded by hot women and singing about love.

I think we can all agree that no recording artist alive or dead had a better grasp on love than Robert Palmer. He and his heavily lipstick-ed troupe of beautiful musicians, dancers, and backup singers tore it up, combining catchy tunes and hot guitar riffs with his masterful grasp of Webster’s dictionary and Roget’s thesaurus.  

If we may be so bold as to borrow from his lyrics, we might just be able to come up with an epic Valentine’s poem for you. A PalmerTine, if you will. Let’s take two of his greatest hits – Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love – and see what we can do.

But a word of caution – use at your own risk. This is powerful stuff!

 


To my Valentine:


How can it be permissible?

You compromised my principles

This kind of love is mythical

You’re anything but typical

 

The lights are on, but I’m not home

My mind is not my own

My heart sweats, my body shakes

Another kiss is what it takes


You’re a craze I'd endorse

You’re a powerful force

I’m obliged to conform

When there's no other course

You used to look good to me

But now I find you

 

Simply irresistible

 

I can't sleep, I can't eat

There's no doubt, I’m in deep

My throat is tight, I can't breathe

Another kiss is all I need

 

Your loving is so powerful

It's simply unavoidable

The trend is irreversible

Woman, you’re invincible

 

I’d like to think that I’m immune to the stuff

But it's closer to the truth to say I can't get enough

You know I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to love

 

You’re simply irresistible

 

You’re a natural law

And you leave me in awe

You deserve the applause

I surrender because

You used to look good to me

But now I find you

 

Simply irresistible

 

I see the signs, but I can't read

I’m running at a different speed

My heart beats in double time

Another kiss and you'll be mine

 

You’re unavoidable

I'm backed against the wall

You gives me feelings like I never felt before

I'm breaking promises

You’re breaking every law

You used to look good to me

Now I find you

 

Simply irresistible

 

I’d like to think that I’m immune to the stuff

But it's closer to the truth to say I can't get enough

You know I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to love

 

Your methods are inscrutable

The proof is irrefutable

You’re so completely kissable

Our lives are indivisible

 

You’re a craze I'd endorse

You’re a powerful force

I’m obliged to conform

When there's no other course

You used to look good to me

But now I find you

 

Simply irresistible

 


There you go, gentlemen. You’re welcome, but don’t thank me. Thank Mr. Palmer!

Happy Valentine’s Day,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

SwiftyBowl Sunday

That’s right, sports fans. The big game is upon us! Super Sunday is this weekend.

(In case you did not know, the NFL copyrighted and trademarked the name Superbowl and/or Super Bowl a long time ago, so I’m not even allowed to write either of those, so I obviously never would.)

Regarding the upcoming Superbowl, you might be aware that a certain musical recording artist by the name of Taylor Swift happens to be dating a certain NFL tight end by the name of Travis Kelce. Travis happens to play for the Kansas City Chiefs, which is the team that’s getting ready to lose to our beloved San Francisco 49ers in the upcoming Super Bowl.

As of this morning, Travis is unsure if Taylor will even make it to the Super Bowl to watch him lose. What we do know, from this year’s regular season NFL games, is that viewership of Chief’s games and overall interest in football has skyrocketed due to Taylor Swift’s fanbase.

I couldn’t be happier about that, because nothing warms my heart more than knowing the NFL is managing to make even more money!

We know that a lot of “Swifties” have been tuning in, and since the world of Taylor Swift fandom and the world of professional football don’t necessarily overlap anywhere other than with #87, I thought I’d break down a few football positions and terms in case that would be helpful for some of this Sunday’s Superbowl viewers, starting, of course, with Kelce’s position.

Tight End: Offense - The most important position, obviously, reserved for super-famous guys with a ton of charisma. They line up on the end of the offensive line. Sometimes they catch passes. Most of the time they block people and date celebrities.

Cornerback: Defense – This is the guy who will be hassling Travis Kelce a lot.

Nickelback: Defense – A fifth defensive back used in the nickel formation to protect better against a passing offense. Also, a really solid rock band that gets a strangely unwarranted amount of hate on the internet.

Slot Back: Offense – Sort of like Travis Kelce’s position, but a little further back off the line of scrimmage. Don’t worry about this one. No one says slotback anymore.

Quarterback: Offense – Patrick Mahomes – the guy who never throws it to Travis Kelce when he is wide open, OMG!

Line of Scrimmage: The blue line. No one is allowed across this line until the center twitches the ball ever so slightly.

Center: Offense – The guy who gives the ball to Patrick Mahomes, so you can get mad at him for not throwing it to Travis Kelce who was wide open AGAIN, OMG!

Nose Tackle: Defense – The guy the center really doesn’t like very much.

Guard: Offence – Anyone over 300 pounds.

Tackle: 1) Offence & Defense – See “Guard” or 2) Getting the guy with the ball to touch the ground with some part of his body other than his hands or feet, while you are also touching him. This means he’s down, but down like the play is over, not down like first down.

Running Back: Offence - You will see Christian McCaffrey, #23 for the “bad guys,” running with the ball a lot, carrying four or five Chiefs linebackers with him, and scoring lots of touchdowns. He’s a running back.

Fumble: What Christian McCaffrey hardly ever does.

First Downs: What Christian McCaffrey gets a lot of.

Safety: 1) Defense – The guy in charge of not letting the wide receivers catch the ball or 2) When the offence gets tackled in their own end zone, resulting in two points for the defense, and hopelessly screwing up the scoring for everyone’s Super Bowl pools.

Holding: Any time you grab someone who doesn’t have the ball, except when it’s OK.

Pass Interference: Any time a defender does anything at all that would prevent an eligible receiver from catching a forward pass, except for all the things the defender can do to try to catch the pass themselves, since all defensive players are eligible receivers, leading to the question, if I’m a defender trying to catch the ball, what if I put my hand up in front of the wide receiver’s face to catch it? Isn’t that a PI? Not even the officials know the answer.

Interception: Any time the defender catches the ball and doesn’t get called for pass interference.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: The physical motions and words of the wide receiver after an interception with no pass interference called.


OK, I hope that clears up some of your possible questions. Just try to remember, Kelce/Swift fans - it’s not going to work out for the Chiefs, but at least Travis and Taylor have each other.

See you on Super Bowl Sunday,

-Smidge

 

Copyright © 2024 Marc Schmatjen

 

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge