I Made a Birdhouse

It’s been far too long since I posted anything here and I think it’s time for an update.  I am not going to make up for 3 weeks of missed posts in one blog so I will make it simple.

What you missed:

hadfield

I met Col. Chris Hadfield.  He is the Man, the Space Man, the Rocket Man, the Commander and the Interstellar Mo Bro.  We had a lengthy conversation and discussed everything from canoes to other things that did not involve canoes.  The fact of the matter is this man is a legitimate Canadian hero.  He is not a movie star who pretends to go to space, he is the real deal.  I am a guy who smashes rodents with hammers. I was in awe.  To meet him I built a birdhouse when I volunteered to help at a function my wife was helping to organize.  It was the centerpiece at his table when he was a guest speaker at the gala.  His reaction to this birdhouse  the night before was a lot more enthusiastic than I could have anticipated.  He spent a great amount of time showing it to people, taking photos and tweeting about it.  Listen, when an engineer who goes to work on a rocket is impressed by something you made, you brag about it.  I have a 3 minute video of him saying things like “genius!”  So lets not hold it against him that he is a horrible judge of character.  There were nine of us in the room, he brought out his guitar and played Major Tom.  I pretty much did this:

excited

The following week I went back to work with the largest grin on my face.  It was gone instantly when I had discovered someone had taken a massive poop in my toolbox.   I left it in the back alley entrance while I did work on the other side of the door.  This poo was enormous.  It was perplexing.  The sheer size of it indicated a very healthy and well fed individual.  I can only assume it was left by a dinosaur or a Sasquatch.  I will not post the photo, but I did take one, because I want the credit for the discovery of whatever mythical creature left that monolith behind.

My reaction to the toolbox discovery

My reaction to the toolbox discovery

Culprit's alleged poopface

Culprit’s alleged poopface

I was also assaulted by a 96 year old woman in my time away.  I arrived at her apartment to inspect for bed bugs that she had complained about to management. She was from old Germany and upon seeing me at her door dressed in all back with black gloves she made the logical conclusion that I was the Gestapo.  I was there to do unspeakable things to her hard earned freedoms and she was going to have non of my evil ways.  She swung her cane at me and missed. It hit the wall and broke in half.  She then decided to commit vehicular homicide and attempted to run me over with her push cart.  That she accomplished but my steel toe boots saved my fragile life.

Picture this, but 90 years older

Picture this, but 90 years older

I explained to her that I was not Gestapo nor was I management (she had an equal disgust for both).  That brought her hulk rage down from a 10 to a 6.  A six I can work with.  I still got in, and inspected the room without touching a thing.  She specifically said If I put my hands on anything she will have me killed like they do in South America.  I am not sure the customary way one is killed down there but it sounds dreadfully awful.

So I have had some time to really contemplate all this.  Chris Hadfield Inspires a lot of people.  He is exceptionally good at reaching out and showing us all a perspective only a handful of humans have ever had.  It is something we should all experience.  He is the epitome of the people that do jobs others won’t or simply cannot do.  My job falls into the “won’t do” category, but it is important to peoples’ every day lives.  What science has accomplished, and continues to discover in orbit affects us in ways we may never fully realize.  Mr. Hadfield is the ambassador to the front lines of human accomplishment.  It is him and people like him that have furthered our inspiration, exploration and imaginations.

I am happy to do my part to help out civilization.  Thanks to the Commander, I have a greater drive to see what else I can do.  Even if old ladies think I am the devil and random strangers shit on my tools.

birdhousetweet birdhouse HadfieldMe

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They are All Trying to Kill You!

I encounter a lot of phobias in my line of work, some are understandable and some completely outrageous.  I will admit there are a lot of critters who are really creepy, like the bed bug, but they pretty harmless.  Other insects, like the mosquito, kill thousands every year with disease but we really don’t pay them much mind as they aren’t a life threatening pest in Canada.  All the Australians are free to skip to next weeks post as pretty much everything there will kill you, and they are laughing at us.  I am fairly certain a gentle breeze has fangs there.

So what exactly does kill people here?  What phobia might actually be a just, sensible caution?  Well, there are a few fun ones I think are worth mentioning:

 

Bears 

They are not so much a pest in the traditional sense but like ants they will come to your BBQ or hot tub party.  Unlike ants they will also rip your fucking face off if you try to swat them.

Bear attack! Oh god it's so gruesome I can't look.

Bear attack! Oh god it’s so gruesome I can’t look.

 

Bees

Awwww, not bees!!?  Yeah, fuckin’ bees.  For most of us they deliver nothing more than a painful sting and a few hours of swelling.  But, there are those who will get stung and before you can say Anaphylactic shock…you are as dead as a dinosaur, which as we all know is pretty damn dead.

Typical bee attack. Radiohead Thom Yorke dance included

Typical bee attack. Radiohead not included

 

Rats

  I think most people’s fear is that droves of rats are going to climb out of the sewer, merge into some kind of super rat and then devour you whole.  At times they certainly seem capable.  Yet their history is actually a little more gruesome.  Historically they helped transmit the bubonic plague which killed almost 3/4’s of Europe’s population in very short order.  Today, if you are unlucky you can get something called Sodoku.  No not the number puzzle, that’s Sudoku.  Sudoku will simply bore you to death.   Sodoku is also commonly referred to as rat bite fever.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  You can get it from a bite, its feces, its urine or even from a gerbil.  Gerbils are bad news.

Rats can also transmit viral hemorrhagic fever.  Remember the Ebola virus?  That is a kind of of V.H.F. It is bad, very bad, because you get this fever you see and then you hemorrhage.  In the past small children’s faces would get bitten while they slept as food would often be left on their face. Although not common, it still happens today.  You may want to wash your face better.

What the feck?  This is not the pic I was looking for. Disturbing.

What the feck? This is not the pic I was looking for. Disturbing.

 

Spiders

  I feel pretty bad for spiders because a couple of them spoiled it for the whole bunch, specifically the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. The Brown Recluse gets a very bad rap.  It is the mysterious boogie man of the spider kingdom.  99% of the time it is not a recluse you are looking at and it isn’t aggressive at all,  it does not bite your ass under toilet seats.  In many parts of the U.S. they are a common house spider.  Children have collected them with bare fingers without ever getting bitten.  However, if you do get bitten, it’s been shown that most bites heal without any medical intervention at all.

The Black Widow is a son of a bitch.  Most people don’t believe we have them here, but we do.  They are not aggressive but they like dark shady areas, like your shoes.  These spiders are not likely to kill you either, unless you are really old, sick or a little kid.  But, we all know little kids never put their grubby little mitts in weird places.

The dumbest thing anybody has done, EVER.

The dumbest thing anybody has done, EVER.

 

Snakes

  We really only have one of these worth mentioning on the list to speak of, the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake. You won’t find this fella in the lower mainland as they like dryer climates.  As far as bites go, venom wise, they are middle of the road.  That means you will endure excruciating pain, necrosis, swelling, shock and a partridge in a pear tree.

Snakes are sneaky. Sneaky snakes.

Snakes are sneaky. Sneaky snakes.

 

So as a final bonus I would like to present to you the most dangerous fictional creature I could think of that is both lethal, could exist in British Columbia and is extremely frightening.  Be thankful that it doesn’t actually exist…yet.

The Bumblebear:

It could eat your spleen or sting you in the heart...and then eat your spleen.

It could eat your spleen or sting you in the heart…and then eat your spleen.

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The Worst Kind of Customer

I find myself pretty frustrated throughout a day of work sometimes and I generally need to take a step back and meditate a bit.  Let’s face it, like a proctologist, I see a lot of assholes.

This is just a quick recap of the type of people who are generally worse than the pests they ask me to remove:

1. Truck Drivers

My view this morning. FML.

My view this morning. FML.

2. Internet junkies.  I say junkies because this customer often says things like “I know I shouldn’t look up all my info on the net because it will just freak me out but, I did and now I’m freaked out.  Is is true silverfish sprout wings and lay dinosaur eggs in your nostrils?”

Thanks internet, you dick.

fullmetal

3.  The ethically superior .  This person usually asks me not to kill the problem, or use pesticides which begs the question; why they called me in the first place?  The answer is because they DO need me and DO need the problem removed, with pesticides.  They then lecture and judge me until I’m blue in the face because that makes them feel better.   It’s like hiring an assassin to kill your neighbor and then lecturing him on how horrible a person he is to be in such an occupation.  This happens EVERY DAY.  I end up doing this as soon as you open your mouth:

WHAT?! I can't hear you over my bloating awesome dance!

WHAT?! I can’t hear you over my bloating awesome dance!

4. Dealers.  Not drug dealers, they are great, always pay with cash.  I’m talking about the guys who wait until you are already finished the job to start haggling the price regardless of the quote they were given before hand.  If this is you be warned, don’t ever piss off the guy who handles your food or gets rid of your bed bugs.  When your bill is due, make in rain.

Fuck. Being a gumball machine looks awesome.

Fuck. Being a gumball machine looks awesome.

5. No concept of safety.  When I insist on a vacate period for a treatment, it’s not only a good idea, it’s the law.  You don’t see me suiting up in hazmat gear because I’m getting ready to pet your cat.  It’s because I don’t want  bleeding lungs and tumors later. It kills the romance with my wife.  Do not stick around to make sure I’m doing a good job. Do not point out all the areas I should spray,  you honestly don’t have a clue.  So if I look like the picture below, GET THE FUCK OUT!  Please and thanks.

BBkittens

6. Mothers who can’t control their children or pets.  They bite, they scratch, they shit on the floor and chase me out of the back yard, and then there are the dogs.  The dogs for the most part are great but they don’t know any better so when they are sniffing my shoes while I spray, that is a problem.

I had a child fling shit at me once. Shit. He flung it. Right at me. SHIT! Flying through the air like a scud missile.  Thank god this kid was a terrible shot or this would have happened:

Don't make me a parent. You wouldn't like me when I'm a parent.

Don’t. Fling. Poo.

Lets face it.  All of these could fit under one “Asshole” category. We all hate assholes.  I am sure there are people that think I am an asshole and hate me equally as much. To that I say:

gooddaysir

 

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10 Reasons It Ain’t Easy Being Green

I am told a lot of my posts start with “So I was in a client’s house and..” So let me start this one by saying…

So I was in a clients house,  she puts her hands on her hips and with a rather indignant tone says “Can you do something that’s a little more green? I would rather not use pesticides. I like to keep things organic.”  For a moment I thought I might have to cut my own tongue out to avoid saying something sassy.  Yes, sassy.

Green” is possibly one of the most empty, bullshit ridden words of the 21st century.  It’s up there with “Diet“.  I look over at her counter and see jars full of quinoa and dried kale. Under her sink I see gallons of cleaning products.  It’s obvious she is a devout vegetarian, not that there is anything wrong with that.  It makes a lot of sense, I get it.  I will also never be one so I’ll just get that out right now.

As much as the word green is well intentioned, it is often as destructive as any other colour you choose to live by.  This is one of those people who use the word as many privileged folk do, to feel superior over their neighbor.  Let’s take a look at 10 things you are actually getting when you are buying green or earth conscious:

1. A green label

2. a biodegradable product in a petroleum based package

3. a petroleum based product in a biodegradable package

But...it's green. Right?

But…it’s green. Right?

4. Biodegradable you say? Sounds great!  Now ask yourself what it degrades into. Methane? How much carbon credit was used to produce it, more or less than a regular product?  How long does it take to decompose?  I’ll bet my primitive meat eating ass (that sounds so terribly wrong but I’m leaving it in anyway because I am a manchild) the data was not designed for frozen Canadian landfills.

 A Canadian landfill

A Canadian landfill

5. Green is NOT Organic, they are not synonyms. Green tends refers to the packaging, distribution and consumption of a product while organic is largely about the production, growth, harvesting and use of chemicals in that process.  To be labeled organic there is often a measured and certified process, a standard if you will.

6. Corporations take full advantage of the fact they don’t need to follow any standard to look “green”.  I know this because I do it too.  I have leaves on my truck and get calls based completely on that.  I may use the exact same chemicals as Joe’s KILL IT WITH FIRE! Extermination Services but the leaves win every time.

Kill It With Fire Pest Control.  Not a drop of pesticide used!

Kill It With Fire Pest Control. Not a drop of pesticide used!

7. Quinoa. This is a great example. People spout of about the miracles of this dish all the time. Health wise they are probably right. But, your foo foo good feelings come at a price. Quinoa is a fantastic example of how our society loves to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Hey Peter.  Say can you give Paul there the 5 ducks I owe him?

Hey Peter. Say can you give Paul there the 5 ducks I owe him?

8. You are going to avoid a cancer you have been deathly afraid of and instead you will get one you never heard of before.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people forgo using a pesticide over bleach and ammonia.  Now your miniature bicycle riding, pet budgie is dead after inhaling chlorine gas.  In fact, I’ve seen people use rubbing alcohol to kill bed bugs only to set fire to their place after lighting a candle.  That’s not very green, and it’s a very real problem.

9. It’s not always WHAT you use as it is HOW you use it that makes something “green”.  I can use about 10ml of product in crack and crevices to eliminate a problem. The average person will unload a 500ml can of raid into the air before calling me.  We are also highly regulated. Back when DDT was being used people used to dust each other on the front lawn as a past time with the stuff,  no license needed.  What we use today is no less potent, we just use it responsibly and adherent to strict regulations.

Gratuitous? How do you spell that?

Gratuitous? How do you spell that?

My cancer scares the lice away.

My cancer scares the lice away.

Harmless enough in the can

Harmless enough in the can

10. What do you mean by organic?  Pyrethrins are organic compounds derived from the chrysanthemum flower.  Can it harm you? YES! Is bleach food safe? YES! Can I drink bleach? NO!  See how this works?  There is a big difference between what is natural and what is organic, See #5.

Look, I get it.  Being green is about the shift in thought to become more aware about what goes into the earth and into our bodies.  It is also full of blind ignorance and misinformation.  So do yourself a favor and do the proper research on how many llama farmers got into a gun fight over quinoa land use or how your reusable shopping bag can cause infectious disease outbreaks (but they are green outbreaks!)  before you gloat your lifestyle over the lowly blue collar pest control guy.

Now take your head out of your ass so I can put my boot in there.

long live the green revolution!!

long live the green revolution YAAAAAAAYYY!!

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Tolerance

This weeks topic is on tolerance.   This is about all the things that bother us and regardless of how painful, annoying or inconvenient they are, we must endure to live with them and in many cases, embrace them.  I think that’s how my wife survives living with me.

Ladies, we can't ALWAYS be perfect.

Ladies, we can’t ALWAYS be perfect.

I don’t think it’s a mystery that I have to put up with a lot of crap from, insects, wildlife and people.   There were two events that happened this week, however, that really seemed to resonate in both my personal life and my professional life in regards to this matter.

Let’s start with what I know best, ants.  In this cases these aren’t just any ants, they European Fire Ants.  I had to deal with this menace last week.  Let’s not blame the Europeans just yet, it really was poorly named.  This has more to do with a Eurasian invasion.  In it’s home turf they can typically occupy 1 nest in 10 square metres. Here in Vancouver that can be as high as 4 colonies in 1 square metre!  Why you ask? well, read this if you are curious about the details:

http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/invasive-species/fire_ants.htm

The end result is an insect that will boil out of the ground and swarm you, your children and your pets.  They will switch and turn aggressive at the snap of a finger and when they do, You will wish you kicked a hornet nest instead.

Of all the ants in your pants you could have, these are one of the worst.

Of all the ants in your pants you could have, these are one of the worst.

These things are here to stay.  Most pest control companies I know simply walk away when they see this.  Home owners panic and are unable to sell their properties.  It spreads to neighboring yards and neighbors turn on each other.  I have even seen people take to digging up and paving their yards out of desperation.  I strongly doubt this will get better but, it can be managed. Colony sizes can be reduced and the environment can be controlled to keep populations at bay.  Luckily, they do not spread fast or appear to take flight in the same manner many ants do.  We have to live with them now, they are part of our environment.  It should be a reason for communities to bond together, not to fall apart.

This is what fire ants make you look like. Now you understand how serious this is.

This is what fire ants make you look like. Now you understand how serious this is.

I tackle this issue by communicating and educating all the nearby and affected neighbors.  There is a lot you can do by working with your community and people like me.  The city has a lot to say about it as well.  There is much to learn,  for all of us.

It was after having struggled with this unique issue that I decided to enjoy a long weekend and support my friends at the pride parade.  There was much jubilation, libations, gyrations and sequins.  It was a curious circus of acceptance and yearning for more rights as equal human beings.

Which is why I was so stunned when I was approached by an individual and asked “So what’s your deal?” to which I replied “Well, I’m here with my friends and my wife.”

There was a long pause and a scornful look.  “Oh, you’re one of those people. You do know there are other places you can go right?”.

I am not impressed

I am not impressed

Man, that was the first time as a straight white male that I ever encountered any sort of backlash like that (in this Country).  Now, I have no right to complain but I have an even greater appreciation for people who have to endure those types of behaviors every single day.  That being said my gay compadres came to my defense in a flurry of chivalrous fury.  I felt like Richard Gere when Julia Roberts rescued him right back.

That's me on the right

That’s me on the right

So the lesson I took from this was this;  When a community faces any kind of change, albeit political, biological or climatological we all have a choice to either come together and build a stronger society or we can take the ignorant path and fight it tooth and nail.

Fire ants may be a horrible invasive species but with a little education and communication neighborhoods can be built better and find a better sense of balance.  So it boggles my mind that we don’t make the same effort where other people are concerned. Other people who do not sting, who do not bite, who do not terrorize children, who do not live in under our lawns or cause deathly allergic reactions.  They simply dance, they simply love and they simply live, just possibly a little more fabulous than the rest of us…

rainbow

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Vendetta

a dickhead

a dickhead

So, this had been an incredibly boring 7 days.  I have been struggling with finding subject matter to entertain you all with this week.  That is until  my last call on Friday, today.  Yes Friday, the new Monday.  I went through this week without a scratch, Scott free if you will.  I strode through the doldrums with nary a breeze at my back knowing that Saturday I would attend the nuptials of a long time friend.  I would sit back with a slight tear in my eye as my inner manliness sucked it back up into my tear duct where I store bullets, motor oil and porno magazines.

Then came 4:30 pm.  A 90 year old woman asked me to handle a tiny little wasp nest.  It was almost cute. I would almost feel bad about killing it if I was one of those people who had legitimate emotions.  So without incident, I helped out a little old lady who had been stung walking in her garden.  I took a few steps back to admire my work and bumped into a dead, hollow tree.

From this tree the fury of hell was unleashed upon me.  I had no protection on and I was now in a cloud of wasps.  I did what any self respecting professional would have done, I flailed my arms, screamed and uttered unimaginable profanity.  Once I was at a safe distance I turned around to take a peak at the “what the figgity fuck?” that just occurred.  I was stung instantly, once.  Where you ask?:

 

So here I sit,  like a victim of a stroke (maybe a root canal?) and drool over my keyboard trying my best to make an angry face but I simply can’t.  I was stung right at the intersection of beard and mustache and it hurts like hell.  Mostly the pain is my pride and ego.  I know what you’re saying, “Suck it up buttercup!” or “Why weren’t you wearing a bee suite?”  but to that I retort:

Nuh uh! You don't!

Nuh uh! You don’t!

So now as a matter of honor I have to take the mafia approach.  You sting me and now I have to kill your whole family.  The day before I have to go to A FUCKING WEDDING!  I’m going to be that guy in the back cheering on the bride and groom, wishing I was my suave debonair self but instead I’ll look like this guy in a suite:

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!

So this where I tell you why wasps are all pieces of shit.  They are terrible creatures, I would like to take my most ignorant stance and argue that they are the most useless insect in the environment. They don’t pollinate, they kill people, they eat your bacon and they will sting simply out of spite, not even self defense.  They aren’t even a a solid link in the food chain because nothing really eats them, except birds, when they are dead, which is also why I kill them.

They come at you angry as hell and they saunter away with a shit eating grin on their face.  If they were human, they’d be this guy:

Smug jerkface!

Smug jerkface!

 

So I know what you are thinking,  that people get stung every day and don’t whine this much so why are you so angry?

 

Your damn right I am

Your damn right I am

Oh, and just as finished this a woodpecker flew into our window.  Fuck you too mother nature.

 

 

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Death and Dead Things

There are a lot of things about my job that I simply cannot sit around and discuss with my wife at dinner.  I don’t work for the CIA or anything as romantic as that.  It’s just pest control,  but my day deals with a lot of death and lately not just the pest kind.  It has been depressing.  Most of the week I’ve been dealing with wasp nests and we joke that we may as well wear a cape and our underwear on the outside of our pants when you see the reaction of our clients.  But, after my week I feel pretty much like this:

Being a hero is dealing with sweat and spandex

Being a hero

So It all came to a head today.  I was called in by the city to inspect a residence where a man hung himself, a year ago.  The body was discovered and removed about 2 days ago.  So here I am, inside a house looking around for any signs of infestation that may pose as a hazard to contractors who are preparing to demolish the house.  It’s a macabre sight to behold.  It feels like a deleted seen from the movie Se7en.   Remember that film?  It had Brad Pitt in it and Gwyneth Paltrow’s head.

Sorry, I could have sworn it was Gwenyth's head in there.  It's been a while since I saw the film.

Sorry, I could have sworn it was Gwyneth’s head in there. It’s been a while since I saw the film.

This guy was hanging in his own house for a year.  Nobody called, nobody cared.  You could cut the despair, smell and sadness with a knife, it was palatable.  Eventually the neighborhood kids broke into the house, thinking it was abandoned, to film an amateur horror movie.  They found much more horror than they had hoped,  but decided to graffiti a portrait of a man hanging himself on the front door before calling the police. *sigh*.

In the back of the house was a dismantled Cessna 172 aircraft.  Worthless without the operators log, but luck had it that the contractors found it.  It is now being reassembled and sold, because this shit wasn’t weird enough.  To add insult to injury, this is the third time in three months that I’ve dealt with something like this.  I don’t do humans.

If you want to see the house, feel free to play the video below.  I apologize for the heavy Darth Vader respirator breathing, it’s actually not as bad as my phone sex breathing:

On top of all that there seems to be a raccoon pandemic happening, again.  I get a call from a guy who saw a raccoon crawl into a bush and die during his daughters birthday party.  It seems grim sure, but this little event cheered me up.  I took some of her party favors and decided to turn that frown upside down.  Sure, she’ll be scarred for life, but I’m sure when she’s old enough she will laugh about it at dinner parties and then draw pictures of herself in feces on the wall.

We all have to die sometime, So make the best of how you leave this mortal coil.

This is how I'm gonna go

This is how I’m gonna go

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