Try Zop: The First Tele-bris Service!

With all of these travel restrictions, more and more events are offering a remote Zoom option. There are so many different types of remote events these days with unique needs. Zoom just isn’t working for everything anymore. That is why we have developed Zop, the Zoom alternative for your next bris!

If you’ve attended a Zoom bris, you’ve probably experienced many of the issues with using a “one size fits all” teleconferencing service. For starters, everyone is late, often including the mohel. In testing, Zop tried several strategies, including sending automated meeting reminders, logging people in automatically five minutes before it started and even automatically changing all invitations to say a start time that is 30 minutes early. Our research showed that you can’t convince the late comers to be on time, they will always be late. You need to actually simulate a lateness response to get them to show up. Through our testing we found a strategy that worked: a CGI video of the bris starting 20 minutes before the actual start time played over the Zop feed.

One issue with a Zoom bris is making and keeping a minyan of 13 Jewish men. People may RSVP and then not attend, or attend and then drop out mid-call. Well, we at Zop have developed minyan bots. They are kind of like chat bots, but with realistic human avatars and programmed to act like Jewish men. They have realistic kvetching and can (and will) provide unsolicited advice that they are unqualified to give, even to the mohel.

With a new baby in the house, things may be a little messy in the background. A new parent doesn’t have time to clean up for the big event. Sure, Zoom offers some nice fake backgrounds, but none of them are really “bris-friendly”. We at Zop have developed some perfect backgrounds for your bris, including “The Wailing Wall”, “Edward Scissorhands” and “Mortified Mordechai” (Zop’s squeamish but lovable mascot).

Zoom is owned by an evil goyishe corporation, while Zop is owned by real mohels! That is why our board meetings are one month long, to allow all members the opportunity to say their long-winded spiels. Zoom spends tens of thousands of dollars hosting their board meeting at a five star resort. The chairman of Zop’s board himself argued with the cashier over the price of the pastrami sandwiches for Zop’s board meeting. That just screams “fiscal responsibility”. 

So put yourself and your family at ease. Go with the tele-bris service that has an average review of two and half stars. If you know our crowd, then you know that’s actually really good! Try out Zop, it’s really “taking off”!

Sorry, I Won’t Be Attending Your Zoom Vow Renewal Because of Some Kind of Disorder I Have

Hello Carly,

I received the invite to your vow renewal with your husband, Todd. I know this is a big deal to you; you’ve been married for two long years and you want to show Todd that you still love him after all this time. I mean, why wouldn’t you? It’s only been two years. Anyway, I’d love to attend. The idea of watching you two futzing around with the camera in front of a chintzy backdrop on my tiny ass laptop screen sounds wonderful. By the way, are you splurging for a real-fake background, or just going digital? Anyway, I sadly won’t be able to attend because of some sort of disorder I have. Seasonally affected disorder? Seasonal allergy disease? The runs? I forget what it’s called. It’s new and I don’t think the doctors have a name for it yet, but I got it real bad. The long and short of it is I can’t go to your stupid, boring attention grab.

Love is beautiful, and it’s sad when I think about what I’d be missing. I mean, just going through the itinerary is getting me excited. A fifteen minute speech from your original officiant about the history of marriage in the bible? Riveting. Maybe he’ll accidentally be on mute for a while and take some time trying to figure that one out. That would be exciting! A trip down memory lane, where we look at what was going on in the world when you got married? You even saved a newspaper from the big day! Let me Google that: Covid and the capital riots. I think it’s pretty much the same thing in the news now. I guess that would be fun to reminisce about.

I also see there will be a cake that we can watch you and Todd eat, while I can’t even get one if I wanted to because the only bakery in my town closed permanently a year ago when the owner died of Covid. It’s really too bad that my thing has been acting up so much. You know, my syndrome? Diseases are understood. Syndromes, like your reasons for marrying Todd in the first place, are mysterious.

What’s that, you want to know more about my syndrome? Well, I cant remember the name of it now, because memory loss is one of the symptoms. It also makes it hard to attend Zoom vow renewals and do other things that sound fucking miserable. Yes, I can still remember the symptoms; I’m sick not a moron! I didn’t want to make this about me. This is about you and Todd. And all the poor saps who don’t have the mystery get-out-of-vow-renewal-free syndrome.

I see there’s a registry, too. You know, I didn’t get a thank you note for the original wedding gift, but I guess maybe you knew that you were doing the vow renewal so soon that you’d just combine the thank yous into one note. I think that in lieu of a physical gift, I’ll be making a donation to the research fund for my mystery syndrome. Yes, the Mystery Syndrome Research Fund. The MSRF is really focused on their work, so the donation slip you get in the mail may be written on the back of a Taco Bell receipt. That’s how they keep their overhead so low. Also, if you look at the receipt and the order is for six chalupas, that wasn’t for one person. It was an order for their whole office. I mean, who would eat six chalupas while coming up with an elaborate lie to get out of the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard of? You’d have to be sick, but not with Mystery Syndrome, because that is very, very real.

Love,

Jane

The Role of Children’s Games in Society

In ancient societies, children’s games prepared their young for adult activities. Sports and games of tag prepared their youth to hunt and fight in wars. As society evolved, our games evolved to prepare our youth for their changing roles as adults. Here are how some modern children’s games prepare our young ones for the adult world:

Simon Says: This game prepares our young for the modern workplace. A man, clearly white (Simon), tells you exactly what to do. There are subtle, nonsensical rules and if you don’t follow them you are “out”.

Seven Up: Remember this one? Heads down, thumbs up! This one teaches you adult coping mechanisms; put your head down, cover your eyes, and give a thumbs up. As an adult this will be be the only way to deal with the world crumbling around you.

Musical Chairs: In any modern economy there is a scarcity of resources. Sure, when you are young it may seem like you are all happily walking around in a circle with your friends, listening to cheery music. When you get older, though, the music stops and either you or one of your friends will be homeless.

Duck, Duck, Goose: It’s never too young to learn that it’s a duck eat goose world out there. Wait, how did you play this game? Sounds like we had way different rules where I’m from.

Rock Paper Scissor: Sure, real wars aren’t fought with these weapons, but the general idea is the same. When they are older they can learn the real rules: Molotov-Sanction-Nuke. They may learn this sooner if they’re in the room when the news is on.

Monkey in the Middle: I think this teaches them evolution? I don’t know, I’ve never played it.

Hide and Seek: This is great preparation for an adult social life, where everyone either won’t leave you alone or avoids you all together.

The Floor is Lava: When the inevitable apocalyptic natural disaster comes, our children will be ready to hop from table to couch to avoid it. They will also have practice pushing their little sisters into it.

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2021 is a Defeated Sigh

Every year, our panel of experts at Merriam-Webster discuss candidates for word of the year and choose a winner that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance. This word should be common and well known, a term that reflects the year that was and has left an indelible mark on our society. This year’s winner is one that you may have heard a lot over the last 12 months: A Defeated Sigh.

This marks the first time that a sound has won word of the year, however it became clear in our media review and random polling that this sound dominated 2021. In our poll, we asked 5,000 people to provide one word that summarized 2021, and while we got 934 different words, 95% of responses started with a defeated sigh. In fact, 221 respondents responded only with a defeated sigh. Other common responses that were finalists included “Fuck”, “Seriously?” and a thousand-yard stare.

The etymology of the defeated sigh goes back to the Paleolithic era, when a caveman first stepped in mastodon poop. While it’s remained in the human lexicon, its usage increased over time, particularly over the last three years. Last year, Merriam-Webster updated its definition of defeated sigh to:

Defeated Sigh noun

  1. Just look around at this shit
  2. I mean, are you fucking kidding me?

Few words can truly convey so much about one moment in time. Congratulations to a defeated sigh! While this is the first year a sound has won word of the year, we have a feeling it isn’t the last, as early polling is showing that curling up into a ball and crying is a frontrunner for 2022.

Something Fun You Can Do On the Internet

The following is a true story

In 2008 I was hired as a United States Patent Examiner. Patent examining is, believe it or not, a pretty boring job. To do the job, you are supposed to examine about one application a day. Ideally, you spend an hour reading and understanding the application, six hours looking through a database to see if it exists or if it’s an obvious combination of things that exist, and an hour writing your findings. This would be bearable if the subject matter were interesting. A buddy of mine was in the sex toys division, which was great material for cocktail parties. I was in the valves division, which is pretty low in the ranks for interesting subject matter. I had a friend who was in spittoons, which is somehow its own division (who is even patenting a spittoon these days?) He threatened to quit and they transferred him to valves as an upgrade, so at least valves wasn’t the lowest of the low.

To deal with the doldrums of patent examining I did what any reasonable individual would do and searched the patent database for ridiculous things to see how many hits there were. The following is a list of highlights from my searches of the US Patent Database:

Lazy Son: 2
Huge Mistake: 1
Pie Eating Contest: 2
Horrible Stench: 5
Urine Soaked: 120
Unbelievable: 398
Unflushable: 26
Literally Impossible: 109
Unpossible: 1
Lunatic: 15
Worst Enemy: 23
Satan: 106
Dinosaur-Size: 1
Totally Annihilate: 2
Pie hole: 8
Die trying: 7
Hellhole: 1
Unforgivable: 141
Doomed to Fail: 65
Dunk Tank: 29
Missing Brain: 1
Accidental Child: 3
Godless: 34
God Awful: 1
God is Forsaken: 1
Whirlybird: 9
Suicide Pact: 3
Body Glitter: 9
Miracle Cure: 9
Haywire: 48
Zombie: 292
Worst Ever: 16
Man-eater: 2
Eternal Life: 24
Stink Bug: 460
Dirt Encrusted: 14
Vestigial Tail: 2
Bogeyman: 1
Red Gatorade: 0
Orange Gatorade: 1

I’m not sure if those nine people ever got patents for their Miracle Cures. Like most patent examiners, I quit after a couple of years and never looked back. Still, I like to think that there’s one person out there who enjoyed 20 years of legal protection for their Huge Mistake.

Covid Subway Etiquitte

With Covid seeming like a permanent problem, the MTA has updated it’s guide for subway etiquette for Covid times. You may be surprised that there was existing subway etiquette to update. Well, there is subway etiquette. It’s a subtle but complicated dance, like the kind that two rats do while fighting over food scraps. Here are highlights of the new guidelines:

Man-spreading is now encouraged to promote social distancing.

Defecating on the platforms is only allowed if masked.

G trains will continue to socially distance from other G trains by arriving once every 40 minutes.

Buskers are now only allowed to sing sad, sad songs.

“Showtime” is still allowed to be uncomfortably close, even by pre-Covid standards. If one of the subway performers accidentally touches you during Showtime, you are expected to give them a larger tip to help with medical costs in case you gave them Covid.

Dr Zizmor is considered an essential worker, even though nothing else essential advertises on the subway. Please don’t call his office with any Covid related questions, though.

Mole people are not eligible for the vaccine, so if you see any it is uncouth to ask them if they are vaccinated. Also, they are a myth and please don’t talk to them if you think you see them.

If the train arrival board time feels like it isn’t accurate and it has said the F train is coming in ten minutes for the last ten minutes, then you are probably suffering from time dysmorphia, a common Covid symptom. The train arrival board is infallible and continuously updated by a neural link to NYCT Interim President Craig Cipriano. ALL HAIL CIPRIANO!

If there is only one other person in your subway car, you can assume it is the smelly car (you know, the car with a homeless person so smelly that they clear out the car) and you have lost your sense of smell due to Covid. You should quarantine with the homeless person in the smelly car for 10 days.

Eating on the subway is somehow still totally cool.

If there’s a PA announcement that is unintelligible, please yell “OH MY GOD, IS IT AN OUTBREAK?! ARE WE ALL GONNA DIE?!!”

Even though the Metrocard machines require touching more shared surfaces than buying one from the booth, it’s still ok to use them to avoid an actual human interaction.

It is still 100% never ok to use, ask about using, or even think about using the station bathroom. Ew.

Riding between cars used to be discouraged. It is now not only encouraged, but required if you can’t maintain the impossible six foot spacing.

While eye contact hasn’t been a proven way to spread Covid, still try to avoid it.

“Stand clear of the closing doors” has been replaced with “stand clear of the Covid doors”, in the hopes that people will actually obey it.

Palindromemordnilap

Everyone knows that Teddy Roosevelt built the Panama Canal because of that famous palindrome. I’ve been working on my own palindromes to reflect my accomplishments. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

A man, no plan, no canal, Anaconnalponnama
cat at(t)ac(k)!
No canal? Not a one? No, a ton. It’s a con! (pretty close!)
A canal?! Are you fucking insane?
BOOB
no dice, ecidon (a new word I invented that means I’m not building any god damn canals)
A man can just sail around the long way!

Modern Metamorphosis

Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect. This is surprising at first, but then again Donald Trump did become president, so anything seems possible. Like a responsible citizen, Gregor checks if insect transformation is a symptom of Covid. Seeing that it is not, Gregor is immediately relieved. Stuck on his back and unable to get up and leave the bed, Gregor reflects on his job as a traveling salesman and cloth merchant, which is full of temporary and constantly changing human relationships, which never come from the heart. Being of Generation Z, most of his personal relationships take place through the phone and are also temporary, constantly changing, and never come from the heart, so he’s used to it.

Still, he sees his employer as a despot and would quit his job if he were not his family’s sole breadwinner and paying off both his and his parents’ student loans. Turning into an insect, however, has shown him that life is too short to waste selling cloth. After all, he’s been receiving a stimmy every month, and has heard rumors that Uncle Joe is going to forgive student loans. Also, everyone else is quitting their jobs. He doesn’t see why a cloth salesman is an essential worker who needs to put himself at risk for Covid just to make his company some money. Nobody would buy cloth from a bug anyway. I mean, it isn’t the 1800s, who buys cloth at all? So, while lying on his back, Gregor decides he is going to quit his job once he can right himself. 

While trying to get off of his back Gregor finds that his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him, indignant about Gregor’s unexcused absence. Gregor attempts to communicate with both the manager and his family, but all they can hear from behind the door is incomprehensible vocalizations. Then he realizes that he can just use his phone, and he texts the clerk that he quits, along with a hang ten emoji, a middle finger emoji and a bug emoji. He then texts his family “IM A BUG LOL!”. They come in and are disgusted. His sister, Grete, post some TikToks of Gregor that quickly go viral.

With Gregor’s unexpected transformation, he becomes the world’s #1 bug influencer. In spite of this, they keep Gregor locked in his room, because he’s a bug. There, he begins to accept his new identity and adapt to his new body. Grete is the only one in the family willing to bring him any food, but Grubhub is willing to cater to his desired diet of rotting food. 

With a steady stream of income from his influencer job and a steady supply of garbage to eat, Gregor starts spending lavishly and invests a good chunk of money in NFTs and crypto. Unfortunately, an even grosser bug-man goes viral on TikTok, stealing Gregor’s market and ruining his sole source of income. Gregor tries to sell his investments, but it turns out his NFTs have no value and the crypto was all scam coins and are worth nothing.

Desperate for income, Gregor signs up for a celebrity boxing match against Macaulay Culkin. Gregor vows to reform his spending habits with the income he earns. In the boxing match, however, Macaulay Culkin removes his shoe and hits Gregor with it, smushing him. His disgusted but relieved family dispose of his bug body and move out to the countryside.

The World’s Greatest Birder

My name is Terry Stapleton, and I am the world’s greatest birder. Ever since I was a little boy and I saw Big Bird on TV, I knew I wanted to be out there in the woods, binocular on my eyes and love in my heart. Love for birds. Platonic love, not sexual. Some birders are fetishists, but not me, I’m not a “birdie”.

So, from a young age I knew I wanted to be a professional birder. I read about all the famous birders, like David Allen Sibley and David Allen Sibley. I knew it would be a hard life. There isn’t really any money in birding. In order to survive as a professional birder I needed a sponsor, but there’s very little I could offer in return. I told people that I could offer to name any bird I discovered after their business, so long as they changed their business’ name to the Blue Titted Warbler. After months of looking, I had one taker: the local strip joint. Unfortunately, the new name turned out to be great for business. They no longer needed me and stopped my sponsorship three weeks after it started.

I stretched that sponsorship money out for months, sleeping in the park and living off of bird seed (that’s an old birder’s move, by the way). I’d sneak into the bookstore and copy pages of Sibley’s Guide on leaves. One windy night, my Sibley leaves all blew away. Let me tell you, there’s nothing sadder than a homeless man crying into his breakfast of bird seed. Those hard times taught me to be robust, like the hardy Nuthatch. All that time in nature also taught me to think like a bird, which isn’t much at all due to their tiny brains.

I was quickly moving up the birding ranks, but it’s hard to know who the greatest birder is. In fact, it’s hard to know anything in birding. You go to these meetings and people will have the craziest things marked off on their birding cards. Once someone said they saw a Blue Bird of Paradise (which is endemic to the island of Papua New Guinea) in Central Park. When I asked them about it, they said they didn’t have their glasses on so it was kind of blurry, but they were pretty sure. That’s a major reason why competitive birding never took off, because it’s all on the honor system and fraught with lies. Also because watching people look for birds never was able to captivate an audience. I never understood that, though. I could watch someone go birding all day. Unless that person is a “birdie”, nobody wants to see that.

So, how do I know I’m the world’s greatest birder then? Let’s just say a little bird told me that the American Bird Conservancy is going to announce it next week. That’s right, ever since I began my bird seed diet, I’ve been able to communicate with the birds, and a sparrow broke the big news to me the other day. I am humbled, but I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s like us birders say, “What was that? I wasn’t listening, I was thinking about birds again.”

Learning to Fly

The hardest part about flying a plane is the loneliness. Sure, some other pilots may tell you it’s keeping the plane in the air, or remembering what all those buttons are for, but I don’t bother with any of that. That’s what the co-pilot (which is Latin for “real pilot”) is for. Those other pilots also aren’t married to my wife, the ice queen!

My toughest journey was a flight to Graham, Washington, home of zero airports. The loneliness was hitting me hard, that day. My co-pilot wasn’t talking to me, seeing as I was making us fly to a place with nowhere to land and making her do all of the pilot work. I was busy with the real work, though; dealing with the solitude. With her giving me the silent treatment, I was had to resort to crushing mini bottles of Jim Beam with the stewardess. If there’s one thing I learned it’s to always have a stewardess, even for empty flights like that one. That can only help so much, though.

Sure they give you flight simulators in pilot school, but nothing can simulate being stuck in the air with your closest co-worker, a gorgeous young woman and unlimited alcohol for nearly two hours. For almost half of that we didn’t even get TV because of the weather. What they really need is an ennui simulator. Or a pinball machine!

If I could do it all over again, I’d do it different for sure. First off, I’d never marry that old battle axe, no matter how much I want up her icy skirt. There’s nothing up there but trouble, trouble and a vagina. And I certainly wouldn’t make her my co-pilot! That was a huge mistake. Second off, I wouldn’t become a pilot at all. Sure it pays well and is well respected and all that, but I’m a man of the people. I’m not meant to be alone up there in the stars. The whole thing is unnatural. God didn’t give man wings for a reason, not for us to spit in his face and build planes for people who are too lazy to walk. No, if I could do it all again I’d work the land. Yes, I’d be a landman. I’d have a co-landman, who isn’t my wife, to do all of plowing and a land stewardess to drink nips with and bitch about my co-landman to. See, that’s the real hardest part of flying a plane, the regret.