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.

Top 10 Worst Ways to Boost Office Morale

10- Let everyone work from home by forcing them to live at the office

9- Better yet, have them work from their actual homes, but only after they’ve worked in the office for 9 hours a day

8-  Play two truths and one lie, but without telling the other employees

7- Do icebreakers, where employees must smash giant blocks of ice to bond over a shared struggle

6- Distrust falls

5- Have a Secret Santa, where you tell everyone’s kids the secret that there is no Santa

4- Implement an open door policy everywhere, including bathrooms

3- Play office Jeopardy, the game where you tell everyone their jobs are in jeopardy and that’s the game

2- Have a weekly office happy hour, where employees can now be happy at work for one whole hour a week

1- OSHA Violation Bingo

My Shark Tank Pitch: Jurassic Park, but with Animals

Hey guys, I’m a big fan of this show and can’t believe I’m actually on it! I’m not an inventor or an entrepreneur, just your everyday guy who came up with a life changing idea. So, you all know the movie Jurassic Park, right? The one where scientists recreate dinosaurs from preserved dino blood and try to make it into an amusement park, but the dinosaurs all escape and cause a whole mess of trouble. Then they do it again a bunch of times. Well, that’s not my idea. First off, it was someone else’s idea already. It also clearly didn’t end well, even if the kids and Jeff Goldblum got out ok. I’m not sure if there was real science behind it, which could be a deal breaker. I have an idea that gets around all of these problems, though, and I think you’re going to like it: Jurassic Park, but with animals instead of dinosaurs! I call it “Animal Park”.

I’ve got some other improvements planned, too. One big one is that we won’t be hiring Newman from Seinfeld. I feel like that should’ve been obvious to them, but he was the antagonist on the show, of course he’s gonna try some sneaky stuff. Instead, I’m thinking it would be smarter to hire one of the good guys from the gang. Maybe George? Lots of laughs and he won’t cut the power to steal trade secrets. Another idea is to sell Dippin’ Dots. People love those things! Especially kids, who will be a big market for Animal Park. Another thing I thought of is that we’d have a part where kids can touch the more tame animals and feed them. That section is called “Petting Park”. Pretty catchy, eh?

And how about this idea I just came up with? You guys have a great idea for a this show here, Shark Tank. I mean, I get it, you guys are like a tank of sharks feeding on the chum that is the contestants. What if Animal Park had a Shark Tank? Like an actual tank of sharks? Wouldn’t that be wild? I mean, it has all of the danger of Jurassic Park, but no risk of the sharks breaking out of the tank.

So, that’s my million dollar idea. That’s why I’ve come to ask you for five million dollars to purchase a van, a net, one hundred eighty five pounds of top round, and to hire one very brave man and Jason Alexander to work at Animal Park. What do you think? Why don’t you think it over and get back to me. Thanks for your consideration.

I’m a Turkey Pardoned by Joe Biden and I Wish He Would Have Killed and Eaten Me

Hello, my name is “Peanut Butter”, at least that’s what the god damn President of the USA told everyone. Turkeys don’t have names. You’d think the leader of the free world would know that. Anyway, if you watch the news, you probably saw last week that he pardoned me and my buddy “Jelly”. Well, as fucked up as it sounds, I wish he would have just killed and eaten us.

Why, you might ask? Well, look at it through my eyes. One day I’m minding my own business in my coop, looking for bugs to eat. The next thing I know, some guys in suits come by in a van and grab me and my buddy. They looked like special agents or something. I had no idea what the fuck was going on, since they blindfolded us, but I knew it couldn’t be good. I’m not a citizen; I thought maybe I was getting deported. Or maybe they were gonna waterboard me until I admitted to some crime I didn’t commit. I saw a documentary about Guantanamo, I know how they operate. Imagine my surprise when they take us out of the van and we’re at the White House.

So I, a turkey, had been kidnapped and taken to the White House. This isn’t some covert operation, though. There’s a crowd and the press is there. Then they take me up to a podium with Joe Biden there. He starts rubbing my back and telling me it’s gonna be ok. I’m not sure if he’s trying to put the moves on me or what.

He makes this big speech, where’s he’s calling me “Peanut Butter” and my buddy “Jelly”. He’s talking to the cameras and tells them he is going to pardon us and let us live. Pardon us?! From what? I didn’t know we were accused of anything and they were going to fucking kill us! What about due process? I didn’t think capital punishment was even practiced in DC.
At that moment, there were a lot of emotions going on: confusion, anger, relief. While I’m still processing all this, the suits toss us back in the van and drive us off to the farm. No explanation, no goodbye, they just dump us there. And when we get back, all of our friends and family are gone. Again, no explanation, they are just gone. I guess they didn’t get the same pardons we got.

I know I should just be thankful to be alive, but have you ever heard of survivor’s guilt? All I keep thinking was, why were we pardoned? Why do I deserve to be here and not the other turkeys? And that’s just talking about turkeys. I mean, have you heard about the Julius Jones case? That’s pretty high profile, yet the president is pardoning me, a turkey who hasn’t been formally accused of a crime. I don’t know what his angle is, but part of me is terrified of finding out.

Ever since that day I have been having horrible recurring dreams. In these dreams, I’m walking around the farm. It’s freezing out and there are two moons in the sky. I hear the wind howling. It sounds like it’s an old man’s voice whispering how everything is going to be ok. Then I feel someone grab my ass. I turn around and it’s Joe Biden. There’s cameras everywhere and my parents are there. Biden has the giant electric knife and says “dinner is served”. Then I wake up. That’s been every god damn night since that day. How long has that been? I have no clue, turkeys have a terrible sense of time.

I have lost total faith in my government, my country, even my turkey God. If I could get out of here and start fresh, I would. As an undocumented flightless bird it’s really hard to flee the country. I just wish Taft were still president. He’d have killed and eaten me himself.

Top 10 Alarming Facts About the Phoenix Suns Gorilla

10- Was acquired from the San Diego Zoo in a trade for Dan Majerle

9- Once dunked a ball so hard that it created a tear in the space-time continuum, sending him from his Ape Planet to Earth

8- Was once suspended for monkey business; his business was selling weed to kids

7- Is a King Kong truther

6- Replaced the much less beloved Phoenix Suns Guerilla

5- Doesn’t understand the ending of Planet of the Apes, but likes the movie for its ape representation

4- Was part of a love triangle with Bobby the Dole Banana and Gus the Pittsburgh State Gorilla

3- In a confusing twist, there is a gorilla inside the gorilla costume

2- His dream job wasn’t to dive through flaming hoops to dunk basketballs but to write the next great American novel while diving through flaming hoops

1- Ironically missed the 1994-95 season after slipping on a banana peel and tearing his ACL

Ethics 101

Hello and welcome to Ethics 101. I’m your professor, Mr. Jarvis. My goal in this class is to have each of you see how ethics are behind so much of what we do, and to look at these ethics with a critical lens. Let me start with an easy example, or is it? Let’s find out. Is murder ok? Hands up if you think so. No hands? Hm, must be shy. I guess it is the first day. Well, let’s do a couple of thought exercises to expand your horizons a little and then we can revisit that one. Just remember, ethics class is a judgment free zone, there are no wrong answers here.

So, picture this: there’s a big buffet for a party. All of the attendees are rich and never have to worry about having enough food to eat. There’s more food than they can eat and they are just going to throw it away. A starving person comes by and takes some of the food that they were going to throw away. Is it ok to eat the person, to teach them a lesson about eating other peoples’ food? I’m seeing a lot of heads shaking. I think there’s some groupthink going on here. 

Maybe we need to go back to a classic: the trolley car dilemma. Some of you may know this one already. There’s a trolley going down a track that is heading for five people. You can divert it down a track that has nobody on it and will safely drop the passengers off at the ice cream shop. What do you do? See, ethics aren’t always that cut and dry.

Is it ethical for an ethics professor to picture their students naked? Not in a sexual way, but more because the professor really can’t stand the clothes that the students are wearing. I’m seeing a lot of folded arms over chests and some of you are leaving, so I’ll take that one as a maybe. I see we’re making some progress here.

Let’s say you forgot your lunch and you are hungry. Is it ok to take your coworker’s kale salad from the department fridge? What if you know they have a desk full of snacks? Ah, question in the back. How do I know what’s in their desk? I don’t know, this is all a thought exercise. I guess you could hypothetically rifle through all of your coworkers’ desks to know these things. Another question from you in the front. Oh, I have kale in my teeth? No, that must be swiss chard, you unethical fool. Yes, it is clearly unethical to not know the difference between bits of leafy greens. 

How about this one: a hypothetical teacher offered to give you an A in his course if you would give him your lunch every day for the rest of the year. Would it be unethical to bring this to the attention of the department chair? YES! Extremely unethical, especially when he’s up for tenure. Snitches get stitches, that’s prison ethics 101, which this course is a prerequisite for. 

After all of these examples, you should be noticing a pattern. Ethics can be tricky. You have your personal values, experiences and perspective to draw on, but even those in your own circles may have different ethics. Imagine those who are very different from you. Picture, if you will, a middle aged man. A little rough around the edges, but a good guy, if you get to know him. Balding, but dignified. A little smelly, but still dignified. Kale in his teeth, but pride in his heart. In the middle of an ugly divorce with the meanest bitch this side of the Mississippi. Yes, I realize that here on Nicollet Island we are in the middle of the Mississippi River. That’s not the point. The point is, picture this guy. If you need a name, you can call him Mr. Darvis. This Darvis guy had a rough go at it. Would it be so bad if he faked all of his credentials to become an ethics professor? What if he wasn’t qualified to do anything else? What if he just ended the class now and promised to give everyone a B+? Would he be such a bad guy then?

Defund Sting and The Police

It may sound extreme to some, but the excessive, brutal and militarized police have lost sight of their mission. The police should be here to help our communities thrive and should be deescalating issues, however countless high profile incidents have shown us that the opposite is happening. Things are getting worse every day, and the frequency and severity of publicly known abuses of power are increasing. That is why I’m joining the millions of voices across America calling to defund Sting and The Police.

I’ve heard the counter-arguments so many times. “Everyone I talk to loves the Police.” This argument just illustrates the problem in our country of divided realities. Yes, the Police are popular in many circles. The Police have sold over 75 million records and Synchronicity was the No. 1 charting album in the UK, Canada, US, Australia and Italy, I can’t argue with that. What about people who don’t like the Police, though? What about the metalheads? The hip hop fans? The jazz cats? While the Police might not be hurting you personally, I can assure you that if you leave your white suburban bubbles you can see the pain that they have caused so many. There are whole communities who are scared every time that they hear a knock on the door that it will be Sting on the other side, ready to lay down a smooth, reggae-tinged bassline. The fear is understandable; for many, the Police are everywhere. Ghost in the Machine came out 30 years ago, yet tell me how many Sweet Sixteen parties you’ve been to where they haven’t played “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”?

The issues here won’t be solved by just getting rid of the Police, that’s not what I’m calling for. The Police still serve a role in a well-functioning society. The problem is just that the Police are becoming too powerful. Did you know that Andy Summers owns a tank? Ten years ago, tanks were reserved for the military, not for new wave rock guitarists. Things have clearly gotten out of hand and the system needs some interventions and oversight. There are some clear steps that can be taken other than getting rid of the Police to help restore the balance of power.

One thing we can do is divest. We can give some money to some alternatives to the Police: other new wave rock bands. The Talking Heads could do a lot for the community with just a fraction of the funding that the Police is getting. Research has shown that people respond well to The Cars, too. If we address the root cause of the issue, we wouldn’t need so much Police.

One other way to solve the problem is to see who is benefiting from this Police state and take them out of the equation. That’s right, I’m talking about the record labels. The Industrial Record Complex gets upwards of 80% of every dollar the Police makes. It is clearly in their best interest to have more Police presence. Did you know that they have whole marketing departments whose job it is to ensure that there’s Police playing on every corner? If it were up to them, the Police would be in every home in America. Is that the world you want to live in? The incentives are all backwards, if there’s a whole industry designed to make money off of the Police.

Defunding the Police would be radical change for sure, so I know it won’t be easy. One of the biggest obstacles here is the entrenched police culture. I’m sure many of you probably dressed as Sting for Halloween when you were kids. Stewart Copeland may have even come to your school for Career Day. It is going to take large cultural awareness and a mass ideological shift. While recent Police incidents in the news have helped raise awareness, there is still a large divide. Recently, Police fan clubs have been forming. These clubs are echo chambers, where people who love the Police can discuss their favorite songs and not get any outside perspective from those whose communities have been harmed by the Police.

The key here is education, but as society becomes siloed, it’s an uphill battle. I would love to get a victim of the Police (maybe a family member of someone killed by Andy Summers?) to come to one of these Police fan club meetings to talk about their perspective, but I doubt I can arrange that. The Police culture is so entrenched, that we most likely will need to just wait for the Boomers to die, at which point nobody alive will have heard of the Police and the problem will just go away on its own.

Ok, Our Vaccines May Not Be the Safest, but You Can Still Trust Our Baby Shampoo

I am here to address the recent reports that upwards of 50 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine sit unused. I’ve heard that this is due to negative views of our vaccine, caused by a minor issue where we had to throw away 60 million doses of our vaccine that were possibly contaminated. And because we had our emergency authorization temporarily put on hold due to some potential blood clotting issues. And because our effectiveness numbers aren’t quite as high as other readily available alternatives. I understand that this could raise some red flags about our vaccine. As a lifelong J&J employee, let me assure you that all of these issues are isolated to our vaccine, and we are still the multinational conglomerate that you can trust and turn to for pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and most of all, baby shampoo.

Sure, the vaccine thing is a little unsettling, but this is a little bump in the road for a company that has been trusted by the American people for over 140 years. You see, Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1873 as a paint solvent and baby oil manufacturer. After a little mix-up at the bottling plant, the company restarted operations in 1880. Robert Wood Johnson and George Seabury founded the company. They named it Johnson and Johnson, one Johnson from Robert’s last name and the other because George was a dick. A dick who knew how to make questionable vaccines, band-aids, fake hips, baby shampoo, and thousands of your other favorite products.

They built J&J under one solid principle: People selling bottles of mystery chemicals to people. With over a century of experience, we have to be good at it, right? I mean, really old things are always good. Picture your sweet old granny. Old Grandma Mildred. Would you want some medicine mixed up by some hotshot new scientist fresh out of school with a PhD and no life experience, or a bottle of good old J&J Liquid Tylenol, mixed up in a big crusty stockpot by Old Mildred the way she learned how from her mother? I know I’m going for the pain reliever soup. Millie lived through the Great Depression and two world wars. She can barely roll out of bed unassisted. If there’s any expert on pain, it’s her.

Plus, we’re super rich! We are No. 36 on the Fortune 500. Would we able to get so rich if we weren’t trustworthy? Nope, that doesn’t sound like the America I know. The proof is in the pudding! And the pudding is Johnson & Johnson Medical Grade Pudding, a failed combination pudding and antibiotic from the mid-50s that was recalled after several deaths. I’m assuming they died of flavor overdose, what a way to go!

And what about talcum powder? People love talcum powder! Yes, you may have heard rumors that we recently have been sued 3,800 times for knowingly having asbestos in our talcum powder and not doing anything about it for decades or notifying anyone. Well, those are just rumors. We can’t be sued, because we’re bankrupt! At least the shadow company that we pushed all of our liability into is 😉

Corporate accounting loopholes can be depressing for the average citizen, who is struggling to get by and cancer ridden from talcum powder use, but did you know that J&J also makes some very effective antidepressants! Who is the bad guy now? That’s right, the communists over at Pfizer! Did you know that their vaccine requires two doses? TWO! Does that sound very trustworthy to you?

We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society, but I’d hate to see 140 years of reputation wiped out over one little tainted vaccine whoopsie-doopsie. So, please continue to purchase our No More Tears Baby Shampoo. There have been no controversies around and it is perfectly safe. I mean, it has no more tears in the name! How can that product cause you harm? It works, too. The other day, my child was watching The Crime of the Century, that movie about how Johnson and Johnson created the opioid crisis, and started crying about all of the horrible things J&J has done. Well, I fed her a little shampoo and she fell right to sleep. No more tears! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I could use a hot shower and some shampoo drinking.