Bed Bugs

I have a serious problem with anything that wants to feast on my blood. Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, lice, leeches… all are personae non gratae in my world. But bed bugs… sorry if I’m being prejudiced here… they are the worst.

I mean… they’re in your bed. And they prefer to attack you at a time when you’re most vulnerable, when you are asleep and all, like, defenseless. Shudder.

So imagine my horror when I thought, for a brief time, that I had a bed bug infestation. I’m itching just thinking about it. Suddenly I want a hot shower.

I woke up one day with what appeared to be 6 bites on my body. And this is Seattle. It’s not like we have mosquitoes. I checked Quagmire for fleas. Nothing. And suddenly I thought of bed bugs. I did a quick and lazy Google search to discover the telltale signs.

There were no spots of blood on my mattress. The bites weren’t along any of my major blood lines. And they were a lot bigger than the average bed bug bite. That was a huge relief. Still… something was biting me. I tore my bed apart. Truth be told, I tore my entire bedroom apart. Nothing.

But now I couldn’t get the thought of bed bugs out of my head. I vacuumed. I washed and dried all my bedding. I washed my dog. I washed me. And the next night, a few more “bites”.

Intolerable. I could not live like this. Seriously. If I were a home owner I would gladly burn my house to the ground and start fresh rather than have bed bugs. Ugh, I felt so dirty and ashamed, even though I had done nothing out of the ordinary to cause this horrifying turn of events. Most people do not. And they shouldn’t be judged. But still. Ick. You know?

I didn’t want to pay an exterminator without any sign of anything. So I decided, as a precaution, to buy some diatomaceous earth from a local garden center. It’s made up of crushed seashells, and when bugs go across it, it cuts open their creepy little carapaces and they dehydrate. But it’s pet friendly.

Take that, you little bastards!

The diatomaceous earth I’m used to getting is in a powder form. Unfortunately, the only kind I could find this time was the consistency of kitty litter. But such was my disgust that I spread that stuff beneath and behind my bed, and between the mattress and the box spring, and after a few minutes of consideration, what the hell… on my sheets.

So for a night, I actually slept in “kitty litter”. I know. Totally weird. And not recommended. But such was my level of yuck.

I didn’t have any new bites the next day, and haven’t had any since. And all of that stuff has been vacuumed and or/washed off in the interim.

By the way, it turns out that I was going through an unbelievable amount of stress, so my doctor thinks what I had was hives.

Live and learn.

One friend did suggest something delightful, though, that has since become a habit. You take a spray bottle, drop in 5-8 drops of essential oils, a splash of rubbing alcohol or vodka, and then fill the rest of the bottle with water. Before bed, spray your sheets and pillows. Apparently spiders and the like don’t appreciate the odor and will leave you alone.

I use lavender, and the bed smells great. And I haven’t had any critter encounters of any kind since then. Of course, I rarely did before, so who knows? But it definitely makes for a peaceful night’s sleep, knowing you’ve got a real or imagined line of defense between you and all the blood suckers out there. And it beats the hell out of sleeping in kitty litter.

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Donating Yourself

Times are tough and there’s so much need out there that it can be overwhelming. But it’s understandable when people can’t make financial donations. I for one am struggling to make ends meet. But there are so many other ways to help.

Here are some ways you can give of yourself, show the world how wonderful you are, and improve the lives of others without spending a dime, and if you need added incentive, in many cases you can write these donations off on your taxes.

  • Become a marrow donor. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 44, a simple cheek swab will get you registered, and if you become a match it could save someone’s life. Go here to order a registration kit.
  • Become a cord blood donor. Are you pregnant? Donating your baby’s cord blood after birth does not put you or your child at risk and could save someone’s life. Talk to your doctor and find out if your hospital participates in this program before your child is born. For more information, go here.
  • Donate your used clothing and furniture. It breaks my heart to see useable items on the curb on trash day when there are so many organizations who would be happy to take them off your hands. Many will even come and pick it up from you.
  • Donate your used car. There are a lot of organizations that will take your used car. Here’s a site that can connect you to various charitable organizations, but personally, I plan to donate my car to National Public Radio when the time comes.
  • Volunteer. Many organizations in your community could use your help. Here’s a website that can help you find those opportunities.
  • Give someone a micro-loan. I can’t say enough about Kiva.org. In a nutshell, loan 25 dollars, change someone’s life, get paid back, and hopefully do it again. What have you got to lose? Not one single penny, that’s what.
  • Help a neighbor. If you have a neighbor who is sick or elderly or disabled or a single parent, they could no doubt use your help. Whether it’s shoveling snow, running an errand, doing home repair or mowing the lawn, there are any number of things you could do to make their lives easier.
  • Donate blood. Another free opportunity to save a life! Imagine that. Go here to find the blood bank nearest you.
  • Freecycle. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Rather than filling the landfill with your perfectly usable but no longer wanted items, advertise them here on your local freecycle network. This is a great way to pick up things that other people are giving away as well!
  • Spread the word. Do you know of a way for people to save money or live healthier or safer lives? Don’t keep this information to yourself. Share it. Facebook it. Tweet it. Whatever it takes to share this with others. Knowledge is power.
  • Donate your hair. Planning to cut more than 10 inches of your hair off? Don’t let it go to waste! There are organizations that will make wigs for people who have cancer or alopecia. I don’t want to give any one organization special treatment, so simply google “hair donation” and choose the one you like best.
  • Listen. Sometimes all someone needs to turn their day around is someone willing to listen to them. Really hear them. That’s a skill. Please practice it.
  • Participate in Neighborhood Watch. Help keep your neighborhood safe the RIGHT way, with an organization that does not advocate vigilante behavior. Google Neighborhood Watch to learn more.
  • Be a mentor. Share your knowledge and expertise with someone who would benefit from it. Learn more about this here.
  • Recycle. Think of this as volunteering for the planet.
  • Report abuse and other crimes when you see them. If you witness domestic violence or any other crime, speak up. That’s the only way you’ll prevent its recurrence. This is a way of doing a good turn for a future victim. Simply dial 911, or if you are outside of the United States, find out your emergency number and keep it handy.
  • Be an organ donor. Sign up to become an organ donor in your state’s organ donor registry and you will not have died in vain. For more information, go here. Also, be sure to share your wishes with your loved ones so that there’s no conflict or confusion when the time comes.

There are so many ways to make a difference in this world, and you don’t have to spend any money doing so. If you can think of any other ways that I may have overlooked, please add them to the comments section. I do 13 of the things mentioned above, but doing even one will make the world a better place. Join me, won’t you?

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Remember when you were young and willing? It’s never too late.

[Image Credit: astdtn.org]

The Worst Movie I’ve Ever Seen

It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m at work with absolutely nothing to do. Thank God for cable TV, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at 4 a.m. I settled on a movie called “Trucks”. Based on a Stephen King story, this movie was made in 1997 and starred Timothy Busfield, an actor I’ve always liked, so in spite of the cheesy description (“A gas-station owner must figure out a way to stop a band of marauding, driverless vehicles.”) I figured, what the heck. Not like I had anything better to do.

This is supposed to be a horror film, but it was so bad that it wound up feeling more like a comedy. Here were some of the highlights. Or maybe they should be called lowlights.

  • A group of people are trapped in a restaurant together as driverless trucks drive around and around and around out front, and Timothy Busfield earnestly says that the one advantage they have is that they’re smarter than the trucks.
  • One man posits that this situation must surely have something to do with Area 51.
  • A postman is delivering mail on a mysteriously deserted business street (perhaps he is delivering on a Sunday, who knows?), when a tonka truck bursts through the window of a toy store and crashes into his ankle. He says ouch. The truck backs up and hits him again. He falls in the street. The truck rams his head. Candy apple red blood spurts everywhere. The toy truck rams him over and over again until he’s dead. Close up on the truck, with slimy guts all over the radiator.
  • Busfield spends a great deal of time figuring out how to distract the trucks.
  • Redneck number 1 decides to make Molotov cocktails and throw them at one of the trucks. Redneck number 2 gets ticked off because the truck in question is his truck. So he runs outside and jumps behind the wheel, but of course he can’t control the truck. Redneck 1 throws another Molotov cocktail at the truck. The hood bursts into flame. The truck crashes into the building and it explodes, taking both rednecks with it.
  • A man is working on a truck that he intends to use to make their escape (because amidst all this chaos, he apparently hasn’t figured out that trucks are the enemy), and when he finally gets it fixed, the truck pins him against the garage door, crushing him to death. His hysterical wife chases the truck down and attacks it with an ax. She has to be knocked out with convenient tranquilizers. She later wanders off and gets run down by a truck that she apparently can’t hear coming and isn’t anticipating. Are they really smarter than the trucks?
  • Since they are trapped together in a building, being attacked by enemies, a guy who is supposed to be an aging flower child says, “Now we know how Mayor Daley felt in Chicago ’68.”
  • All the trucks converge in the parking lot and begin honking to each other. “They must be communicating,” Busfield says.
  • The people in the restaurant receive their news via an old television. On more than one occasion it shows static, then you hear the reporter’s voice, then the cook reaches up and turns a nob on the TV to tune it and they get to see the report. The only problem is there’s no nob on the TV.
  • Two teens take refuge from the trucks in a drainage ditch, and a demonic dump truck pours rocks to block their exit.
  • The payphone in the besieged parking lot begins to ring. Someone says, “Maybe we should answer that.” Someone else says, “It may be a trick.” Someone does answer, and of course gets mowed down by a truck.
  • Busfield finally figures out that the trucks want him to give them gas. He goes out and starts nervously pumping. His love interest races out to him and he says, “What are you doing? Get back inside!” She says, “No! You’re going to need help!”
  • The cook decides to shoot out one of the headlights of an approaching truck. That sends it into the ditch. In retaliation, another truck crashes through the restaurant. So Busfield shoots it. One shot and the whole place explodes.
  • A lineman with the power company is trying to restore power to the area since the trucks took out a transformer. He’s up in his cherry picker when his truck comes to life and rams him into the power lines where he’s electrocuted in a hail of sparks and bursts into flame. The truck actually growls in satisfaction.
  • The few survivors hike out of the area and are conveniently rescued by a helicopter, barely escaping annihilation by a semi-truck as they’re trying to get on board. Hurray! They’re saved. And then they notice (spoiler alert) no one is piloting the helicopter. The end.

I don’t know how they managed it, but they combined the worst special effects with the worst acting and the worst sound and the world’s most pathetic choice in music. It was just epically bad.Timothy Busfield must be mortified in retrospect. I’d love to know the thought process in making this movie. How many people looked at it and said, “Oh, yeah! This is going to be great!”  The director would have been better off playing it off as a comedy spoof of horror films, but apparently he took this fiasco seriously right to the bitter end.

I haven’t laughed so hard in years. The only thing that would have made the experience better was if it had been featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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