By Mordechai Schmutter


As someone who, when there’s not much going on in his own life, baruch Hashem, keeps an eye on the news for cute stories he can write about, I have to say that there is absolutely nothing going on these days. Everything is COVID-related. It’s all depressing. But I did find some bits of news that might brighten our days, as bright as they can be indoors.

Take the man in England who ran a marathon in his backyard to raise money for the National Health Services. His backyard is about 20 feet long. He figured out that to do a 26-mile marathon, he would have to run circles in his backyard 7,000 times.

It’s not like anyone giving the money was showing up, though. My guess is that he set up a video for the people who wanted to watch the whole thing; he could have run around just once and put the video on a loop.

I think this is a noble endeavor, because by the time he’s done, one leg will be shorter than the other, one sneaker will be way more worn, and he’ll be walking off to the side for a while. He’s going to be missing a circle of grass in his yard.

If you think that story is impressive, a man in Russia by the name of Dmitry Yakukhny ran 62 miles of laps around his bed. Indoors.

He was so dizzy. Thank goodness for the bed.

Dmitry had been training for a 155-mile race across the Sahara Desert, so 62 miles is nothing. He would have made it farther, but there’s only so long you can tire yourself out while constantly staring at your bed. I would maybe last three laps. This story is pretty admirable because the most exercise some of us are getting right now is pacing around our homes during davening and making hand motions at people.

And he did it in socks, probably because the people in the apartment below his were having headaches for some reason.

“Go lie down.”

“I did. Where do you think my bedroom is?”

Dmitry wasn’t doing great either.

“My head started spinning and my leg was aching on one side,” he said. “So every 10 kilometers, I changed direction.”

Overall, he was pretty happy: “I had the support of my family. Normally on an ultramarathon like that, you’d be running between food stations. Here I just waved a hand and my wife cooked something.”

His downstairs neighbors cheered him on as well, by hitting their ceiling with a broom every few minutes. If he was hot, he just opened the window, which is something you can’t do in a regular marathon. By the end, his bed somehow did not fall into the apartment below.

See? Nothing’s happening. A man ran around in his backyard, and another ran around his bedroom. My kids do that every night when I’m trying to work.

“Who moved the beds to the middle of the room?”

But some people are getting out. Like the 60-year-old woman in Rome who was fined for taking her turtle for a walk.

I don’t know why it’s OK to walk your dog, but you can’t walk your turtle.

Also, a man in Spain was busted for taking his fish on a walk. In its bowl. The fish had no idea.

Fish need to walk, like everything else, right? It needs exercise, and fresh air. Or it feels cooped up in a little apartment. What do we want from him?

Both of these people were taking advantage of the European rule allowing pet owners to leave their homes for walks. There has actually been an uptick in people buying dogs these days so they can get out of the house.

Would I do it? I don’t know that to get out once in a while it’s worth it to have an extra being in the house with extra hair, extra smells, and no sense of boundaries. We’d be giving ourselves an extra reason to go outside by making the inside worse.

Though dogs do come in handy. Take the man in Mexico, who, according to headlines, sent his dog to the store with a list and money attached to its collar. Like your kids’ kindergarten morah does with parashah sheets.

How is the dog supposed to get the groceries home?

I should mention that the dog was a Chihuahua.

I saw a picture of the Chihuahua, and he looked nervous, like a kid who’s left on line at the grocery with a full cart while his parents walk off to look for one more item.

According to the article, it wasn’t a long list. The guy wanted chips, and chips are not an essential item, so he sent his dog. People with dogs say it’s the same as having kids, so why not put that to the test?

He sent the dog with a $20 for one bag of chips, so he was clearly hoping the dog would come back with change. Or, if it’s indeed like a kid, it would have bought a little something for itself while it was out.

Speaking of animals, police in a town in Maryland recently issued a reminder to all residents to put on pants when they go get their mail. If they’re not lucky enough to live somewhere with a mail slot.

I mean, I’ve been putting my pants on because of davening, and then just leaving them on all day out of laziness, but I imagine people who don’t have to daven are not wearing them. I’m actually wearing out my pants. I have two pairs in circulation, and both are going to have to be replaced the day we get out. That is on my list for day one. Other people have, “Frolic in the sunshine”; I have “Buy pants.”

I also have a couple of teenage boys who no longer fit into any of the pants they brought into quarantine with them. It’s going to be a family outing.

So apparently, people have been going out in a face mask and no pants. The oilam is going to have some weird tan lines when this is over.

So the police posted: “Please remember to put pants on before leaving the house to check your mailbox. You know who you are. This is your final warning.”

Are they going to start arresting people? Just have holding cells full of pants-less people wearing masks?

Speaking of authorities in Maryland asking nicely, the mayor of Baltimore has asked residents to “Please stop shooting each other so coronavirus patients could have hospital beds.”

Crime has always been illegal, but now it’s more illegal. Like the criminals will say, “Well, since he asked nicely … I guess it could wait.”

People out of town are so polite, you know?

I don’t know the situation there, but I’m pretty sure that if there are people you might have to shoot, you can’t just call each other and say, “Look, can we just get back to this later? I mean, no one’s going anywhere anyway. I think we’re a non-essential business.”

But not all legal infractions have stopped, unfortunately. A few weeks ago, a UK man was caught driving 130 mph, and when asked why, he said he was hoping to go fast enough to avoid catching coronavirus.


OK, so think about it like this: We’re being told not to go out too much, because the less time we’re out, the less chance that we’ll get the virus, right? Well, if you drive faster, you’re out less.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel, unless you’re a criminal in Baltimore. People are working on cures and inventions to deal with our situation. For example, I just came across an article titled, “Australian Scientist Gets Magnets Stuck Up Nose While Inventing Necklace to Stop People Touching Their Faces.”


The idea was that the necklace would build a circuit around the wearer’s head, and then he or she would wear magnets on their wrist that would set off a perimeter alarm if they got too close. That way, you know where your hands are. And so does everyone around you.

So then how did the magnets get up his nose? Funny story. See, he was having issues, in that instead of making noise when his hands were near his face, the device was making noise unless his hands were near his face. So by way of testing the sensor, he tried clipping magnets to his earlobe, and then to his nostril, and then to his other nostril.

“Things went downhill pretty quickly when I clipped the magnets to my other nostril,” he said. The two magnets stuck together inside his nose. So he attempted to use his remaining magnets to remove them, but they also got stuck.

“At this point I ran out of magnets,” he said. So he tried using pliers. But that came with its own challenges.

“The pliers kept getting attracted to my nose, and the force of my nose being pulled was also painful.”

Eventually, his wife made him go to the hospital.

How did you spend your quarantine?

In the end, two doctors helped him out by simultaneously grabbing at the magnets in each nostril. At which point his alarm started making noise. It was like a game of Operation.

The thing is, his invention might not be necessary. If you want to stop yourself from touching your face these days, just wear a mask. Though I guess children under two are not supposed to be wearing face masks, so maybe this is for them. If they get their hands too close to their faces, an alarm goes off, letting you know so you can lunge and stop them. Or the alarm will wake them up from their naps. Either way, everyone wins!

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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