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“That was way outta the strike zone, you bozo!”

I’ll never forget the time I was playing center field in a Colt League baseball game and my dad got kicked out of the stadium. Self-conscious teenagers tend to notice when their dad is booed by an angry crowd. 

He was sitting behind home plate, riding the umpire the whole game. Dad’s face was beet red and he was yelling like a man whose arm hair is on fire. Finally, the umpire had enough. He threw off his mask, twirled like a ballerina, pointed at my dad and yelled, “You’re outta here, buddy!”

“Yeah, that’s right, the truth hurts, doesn’t it!” Dad said as he headed to the parking lot. The other team’s fans serenaded him with a sarcastic standing ovation. Knowing full well that Dad was fighting for our team, I forgot my embarrassment and looked at it from his point of view. That umpire was costing us a victory. Right?

Are pests invading your house, mocking you for not using Home Defenders? Then call us today we’ll boot invaders from your field of dreams just like that umpire booted my dad from the ballpark all those years ago. Call us today for a free evaluation. At Home Defenders, pests are outta here, baby!

So was my dad an angry, abusive man? Absolutely not. He never raised a hand to Mom or any of us kids. He just hated incompetent umpires. In fact, all I can remember are Dad’s small character flaws and peccadillos, the ones that caused me embarrassment as a teen.

Thinking of him now, all I can do is crawl to the mountaintop, cup my hands to my mouth and proclaim to all the world these fatherly words of wisdom: “That was way outta the strike zone, you bozo!”

Way to go, Dad. Way to go.

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Flood Rat’s the name, I’m a hero they say,

I took social media by storm for a day


Escaping the rains, ‘neath a post I did shelter,

A man with a phone filmed it all helter-skelter.


To the Web he did post, let the circus begin,

Even that know-it-all Pest Pro chimed in.


Hi-ho, hi-ho, my name they do flatter,

But what came after is the heart of the matter.


A mission in mind, to Yankee Stadium I ran,

What—haven’t you seen a rat with a plan?


The arena was empty, the rain saw to that,

No roar of the crowd, no crack of the bat.


But humans aren’t clean, and their food it does fall,

On the floor ‘neath the seats I soon spied it all.


There was candy, hot dogs, chips and popcorn,

I hoarded it like all like eggs Easter morn’.


To my nest I did speed, loaded with treats,

Toting it all was one Superman feat!


Stray cats and snap traps I dodged on the way,

Eyes big and wide is how rats make their hay.


Along pipes I raced, I flew like a bat,

No applause, please, I was born to do that.


I dashed through my door, my own holy grail,

And now, dear reader, comes the moral of this tale.


“Daddy, Daddy!” my kids sang with zeal,

“Yankee treats are our favorite meal!”


There was Davi and Danni and little Julie-Soo,

The only hero worthwhile lives in their point of view.


We ate and laughed and rolled in horseplay,

At last Mama said, “Time to call it a day.”


A hero to children is all that we need,

I lay down to sleep—it was a good day, indeed.

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“Aw shucks, Amos! All we have fo’ suppa’ is grits and smoked crawdads… —We interrupt the Amos ’n Andy Radio Hour for breaking news. Take it away, street reporter Johnny Fellini.”

“Step aside, Babe Ruth, there’s a new hero nibbling on the Big Apple and the dailies have given him the moniker ‘Flood Rat’. The furry little lug gained his fame sheltering behind a subway support beam as floodwaters threatened to wash him out to the East River. Hey, Flood Rat, say cheese and smile for the cameras!”

“New York is so smitten with Flood Rat we’ll soon see him on Broadway with a bevy of bare-ankled beauties in a show of skin that will make this reporter blush like a Dominican friar at a Rockettes revue. Yowza!”

“With me now is pest control ace Mike Nolan of Home Defenders Rat Catchers & Cockroach Smashers. Mr. Nolan, is Flood Rat just another flash in the pan? ‘Uh, no, Johnny, this critter knows how to save his own skin. He’s a survivor.’” 

“Say, Mr. Nolan, speaking of rats, how can New Yorkers keep them out of their tenements? ‘Well, Johnny, I always tell people to rinse their stool buckets in the river at least once a week. Rats love the smell of fresh stool.’”

“Er, thanks, Mr. Nolan, our listeners will have that picture in their noggins until those bungling Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series. Wait, this just in—oh, no! Flood Rat has met his maker in a Home Defenders snap trap. Good night, greasy prince, sleep tight.”

“And now the rest of the story. Nolan was hailed a hero for ridding the city of rats and was last seen with a bevy of bare-ankled beauties. Which has us asking the age-old question: How much more skin could women possibly show?” 

“This is Johnny Fellini, signing off and on his way to a cold shower. Yowza!”

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Have you ever thought about picking up a live rat? A wild one, I mean. Picture this: You’re working in your kitchen when you suddenly see a rat scamper by. Would you reach down and grab the critter by the scruff of the neck and holler, “I got you, you varmint!” Would you?

I’ve worked in pest management for thirty years and I’ve never once thought about grabbing a live rat. When I was a rookie, I was warned by a veteran pest tech, “Never corner a rat. They’ll run up your leg and go for your jugular.” 

Imagine my surprise yesterday when my pest manager Gilbert showed me a photo of himself wearing animal control gloves and proudly holding up two live rats. I suppose he could have faked the photo, but he had a story to back it up. 

“Well, Mike, all we did was corner the rats in a buildup and then force them into a little plastic trash can,” Gil said nonchalantly, as if he grabbed rats on a daily basis. Looking over the photo, I thought, “Darn … what’s the learning curve on that skill? Wouldn’t you get attacked a few times before getting the knack of it? That’s nuts.”

As Gil admired his photo, I said, “Well, uh—good job!”

It’s fall, nights are cold and rodents are on the prowl, looking to invade your warm home. If you hear mysterious noises or see telltale rodent droppings, call us and we’ll give you a free estimate to escort them out by the hair on their chinny-chin-chins. Here at Home Defenders, we believe the only good home is a rodent-free home.

Some of you may be wondering when I myself will try grabbing a live rat, thereby joining Gilbert’s elite, though lonely, “Rat Grabber Club.” Here’s my answer, short and sweet: Never ever.

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“Hey Mike, how do I get spiders out of my house without using poison?” my secretary Nicole asked. “My mom’s coming over and she freaks out at the sight of a spider. And I don’t like putting chemicals in my home.”

“You poor thing, let the Pest Pro teach you how!” I didst say, taking pity on the damsel in distress. 

“Oh my liege, you are the wisest of the wise!” I’m fairly sure mine ears didst hear. (But she might have just rolled her eyes.)

These days, many homeowners want to rid their home of pests without using poison. I’m sympathetic to their concerns because my core pest control philosophy is to use the least amount of chemical needed for any given pest job. That’s just common sense.

If you want to try and rid your home of spiders without using any poisons, it’s tough, but here’s what I recommend: Buy a cobweb brush and an extension pole at the hardware store and knock down all the webs in your eaves, around doors, in corners, etc. I recommend sprinkling boric acid powder on the bristles . Boric acid is perfectly safe for humans and pets but spiders hate the stuff. 

Inside the home, thoroughly vacuum where spiders hide, like under and behind furniture. Caulk holes where pipes enter, such as under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. Be sure to go outside and seal where gas and sprinkler lines enter the structure. Finally, de-clutter your home and force spiders to seek happier hunting grounds elsewhere, preferably in the forest where they belong. 

“And that, my fair Nicole, is how you banish foul spiders from your humble abode” I pronounced. 

”You, good sir, are the prince of all pest knowledge!” I do believe she bespoke of me. 

(But she really just rolled her eyes again.)

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>> — Do you pay attention to what’s happening all around you? Do you know who owns that vacation house down the street? Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your co-workers? Can you ride a motorcycle without getting run over?

>> — Can you laugh at yourself? Can you ignore an insult? Can you stay calm when someone threatens you? Do you see revenge as a big waste of time and energy?

>> — Can you admit it when you’re wrong? Can you look from the other person’s point of view? Can you honestly critique your own performance? Have you ever said to yourself, “That’s not good enough. I can do better.” Can you make a list of your own faults? 

>> — Can you say no to a glass of whiskey? Can you drive by a casino and think, “I don’t see the attraction.”? Is recreational drug use boring to you? Can you give up all types of fun—for years if necessary—to build your business?

>> — Do you trust your instincts? Are you confident you can handle whatever challenge might come? Do you easily and naturally think for yourself? Are you an original?

>> — Are you aware that we all have blind spots? Do you see the value of bouncing ideas off others? Can you spend an hour asking questions and listening? Do you have the patience to let the answer come to you?

>> — Are you a natural born leader? Do you mind being the one that says, “OK, everyone, let’s get back to work.” Are you comfortable being the person everybody is on their best behavior around?

If you answered “no” to most of these questions, you may not be ready to start your own business. But, if you still think you’re ready, well, you know what’s best for you.

Good luck and say hi to Jim Beam for me.