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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.

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Uh, last week, after winning an impromptu-arm wrestling contest—with one of my construction workers, no less—and in a testosterone-fueled haze, I dashed off an article praising manly men. I postulated that, “men are better at wrestling vicious wild animals” and “women have a gift for French verb conjugation”. 

Some readers were miffed. Here’s excerpts from emails I received:

>>I’m a woman and I’m still working on English! Way to go—I look like the one woman in town who can’t speak French!!!! Please stick to getting pests out of homes, bug man!!!

>>Oh great!!—another man parroting the tired old myth that women are superior at French verb conjugation!! Voltaire is rolling over in his “manly” grave!!! #nomoreparrots.

>>So women can’t wrastle (sic) wild critters, eh? Well, I’m a gal and I just kicked the living tar out of a bobcat over a road kill squirrel. And my face isn’t all scratched up, either—it just looks like a nice, broken in catcher’s mitt. Signed, single for life.

>>Oh, so you claim men haven’t gotten their due in history books??? Did I read that right??? Actually, you might be on to something. Let’s get together and hash it out it over a bottle of wine. Signed, a very single gal.

After seeking counsel from a business consultant (lawyer), I’d like to issue the following statement: 

“Greetings, ladies. If my article last week implied that women are superior at French verb conjugation and/or are inferior at wrestling vicious animals that shred the human face to ribbons, then for that I am truly sorry. In the future, I will gear my articles to all known genders: manly men, manly women, girly women and girly men.” 

(Though you girly men may want to avoid next week’s article.)

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Sorry ladies, this week I’m writing about manly man stuff so for your own safety please stop reading. Be sure to check back next week when I tell you how to get rid of those pesky aphids on your prized roses. Roses are red and violets are blue, baby!

Anyway guys, I was in a health food store recently when I saw a display touting an ice cream brand as “women owned”. And I thought, “Isn’t it high time some intrepid soul celebrated men in business?” After all, some of the greatest dudes in history have been men. Did you know … 

>> Michelangelo designed the dome at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy—home of many a manly man. And I’d like to think Michelangelo built that corpulent cupola with his own burly hands!

>> In the 1860s Richard Gatling invented the first rapid-fire gun and, uh, let’s just change the subject.

Hey guys, has a wild animal invaded your castle? Yeah, I know bro, you could wrestle it by yourself, but why not call professionals who have experience with hand-to-claw combat. Did you know, for example, that when battling raccoons you have to stay an arm’s length away—those teeth are razor sharp. And with bears, you better get in the first punch—he who smacks first laughs last. Call Home Defenders today and let us risk getting our faces shredded by vicious wild animals.

Lastly, I’m a manly man and proud to bellow it out loud! I brew my own beer, go fly fishing, and work on French verb conjugation, which is manly enough in a European, intellectual sort of way.

Oh, and I can bench press 140 pounds. I’d like to see those ice cream women do that. Manly men rule! (Except at French verb conjugation, women have a gift for that, let me tell you.)

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It was hot day in Lake Arrowhead, just about hotter than any day ever. Soon I’d have an image in my head nobody wants up there. But hey, I’m a pest professional and you never know what you’ll find at the next stop.

I was treating a home for ants, like I’d done thousands of times before. But when I first entered the home, I had noticed a subtle off odor. That could have many causes, not all of which are a problem. But going down into the buildup, I noticed a strong, foul smell. That certainly is a problem.

I didn’t want to drum up more work for myself—tracking down a mystery odor can easily burn hours—but I said to the owner, “Have you noticed a funny smell?”

“Yes, I have,” she said. “But Mike, who do I call for this kind of problem?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Mrs Smith, I’ll get to the bottom of it.”

Mystery odors in homes have three main causes: 

  1. Dead animal. From the strong smell I expected to find a raccoon or something bigger.
  2. Sewer gases. This either comes from P traps that have gone dry, or a broken sewer line.
  3. Gas leak. This odor is distinctive and I ruled it out early.

The smell was strongest in the subarea, so I started there. I scanned the ground for a dead animal, but saw none. Next, I followed the old galvanized drain line until I saw a crack in the drain—directly above a small lake of raw sewage. The stink was turbocharged by the summer heat. Bingo!

Mrs Smith was aghast when I told her of my discovery, but at least she knew a good plumber. As the image of that open sewer slowly left my brain, I took some pleasure in the satisfaction that I had indeed kept my promise and gotten to the, ahem, bottom of the problem.

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Last week, in a bid to let my Home Defenders customers get to know me better, I made a list of modern innovations an old-fashioned guy like me never wants to see. Here’s more:

>> Corporate sponsored government —  

DMV employee: Don’t raise your voice, sir, it’s not my fault the system overbooked your driving appointment.

Citizen: But I need my driver’s license today!

DMV employee (sarcastically): Look, sir, your can always take your complaint to the President.

Citizen (frustrated): Sure—as if a peon like me could get ahold of the President of the United States of Amazon.com!

 Actually, there would likely be no difference whatsoever between corporate government and the bureaucratic kind we have now, so innovate away.

>>N.W.F.L. — (National Women’s Football League) Call me sexist if you want, but I’m not interested in watching women banging heads. Unless it’s that lingerie league, which leads me to the last innovation I never want to see … 

>>Mens’ Lingerie League — Please, in the name of all that is holy, can’t we all come to our senses and just say no. Thank you in advance.

>>Robo-Cat Mouse Terminator — Sure, it sounds cool—I could picture one with Bengal tiger stripes and razor-sharp titanium teeth—but wouldn’t you rather see a smiling Home Defender at your door, flashlight in hand, ready to find all the tiny openings that allow mice to enter your home? Sure, that sounds old-fashioned, but it’s time-tested and you don’t have to drag your mechanical mouse catcher back to the store and argue with some tech guy about how the Robo-Cat’s battery dies after twenty minutes. 

We bug guys may just be flesh and blood, but we run on the best battery of all: The exhilarating thrill of the chase.

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Last year I wrote down some signs that I’m getting old. A year later, surprise, surprise, l’m older still. Here’s more signs (gulp) I’m getting old:

>>  I often find myself saying, “That was before you were born” … to grown adults!

>>  9:30 p.m. seems like a perfectly sensible bedtime … on Saturday night.

>>  I drink three beers and awaken the next morning with a pounding headache and think, “Why did I drink so much?”

>>  I stretch before I exercise so I won’t pull a muscle … and I pull a muscle.

>>  I find myself saying “mind over matter” less and less. Matter sure is one tough cookie to beat.

Hey mountain homeowners, do you know what never gets old? For us Home Defenders, ridding mountain cabins of pests never, ever gets old. Call us and our crack team of youngsters—and our young-at-heart-owner—will give you a free evaluation. Call today!

>> I still turn to the Yellow Pages for goods and services.

>>  I say, “Come on now, you’re not old!” to forty-year olds. And I mean it.

>>  I’ve come to realize that I’m no longer an oldish young guy, but rather a youngish old guy. 

>>  I was offered a senior discount for the first time ever this spring, and to make matters worse, I happily took it.

>>  When I hear someone in their twenties lament, “OMG, I’m so old” … I feel just a little bit younger.

>>  I just love that kids in their twenties dye their hair silver.

>>  I call adults in their twenties “kids”. 

>>  I don’t object any more when pretty young women call me “sir”. I’m over that now. At least they’re being polite.

>> My only defense in the face of getting older is to eat right, exercise, and, when the going gets really tough, do like my grandparents and parents  and make a big joke about it! 

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“Could I have misinterpreted the pretty woman’s words?” I thought. “Am I really a fool, like Nicole says?”

I walked into the dry cleaners one hot afternoon last week and dropped off my work shirts for cleaning and pressing. The woman behind the counter remarked, “You look hot in that long sleeve shirt.”

“No,” I said. “It’s made for summer weather. I’m cool as a cucumber.”

When I got back to the office, I told Nicole and Alejandra my story. But they had a totally different spin on what happened.

“She said you looked hot?” Alejandra said, eyes wide open.

“Dude,” Nicole said, laughing. “We women don’t say a guy is ‘hot’ unless we mean business. You’ve got bugs on the brain—you should have sealed the deal, fool!”

“What deal?” I asked. “The woman behind the counter was clearly referring to my temperature, not my desirability as a mate. I was there and I know. Case closed!”

Hey reader, you know what’s really hot? The temperature outside. And it’s driving bugs and rodents into homes. Personally, I’ve never seen a bug guy I’d describe as ‘hot’ but I’m not a woman and I’ll let them decide. But if a rat jumps out of your toilet, we’re the guys to call. Hot or not!

You know, reader, as I relived the events of that sultry afternoon, I wondered if I’d gotten it all wrong. My mind wandered back … to the woman’s low cut summer blouse … that bead of sweat on her delicate décolleté … the playful twirl of a brunette curl … her come hither look. In my obsessive quest to rid homes of bugs, had I misread it all?

Nah. Be sure to check back next week when I teach you to make ant bait from ingredients in your very own kitchen. Toodle-oo!