How to Keep Bedbugs Away

When I read my Snopes newsletter this week I noticed an article about bedbugs, fact and fiction. I checked it out a couple of other places and this is what I found out: The U.S. is experiencing an explosion in its bedbug population, with all 50 states reporting epidemic levels. The 71 percent increase since 2001 is due mainly to international travel. Bedbugs start in infested hotel rooms, hitch rides on luggage where they spread to homes, back to hotels by the same suitcases, and the cycle continues. Bedbugs will hop onto backpacks, too.

Bedbugs can’t stand being in clothes dryers. The temperature necessary to kill them is disputed – anywhere from a minimum of 113F to 120F degrees. The estimated time needed to kill them varies from 5 to 45 minutes. Most authorities say it take from 20 to 25 minutes.

They’re extremely hardy. They can survive more than a year without eating and they can survive freezing temperatures. They like cracks and crevices of mattresses and box springs as well as furniture, baseboards, electrical outlets, or other small spaces or fabric surfaces near humans.

The best thing to do is keep them out of your house in the first place by placing your bag on a suitcase stand when you travel instead of the floor or  bed because they can’t easily climb metal. Keep the rack away from walls or wooden furniture. If the hotel doesn’t have a metal rack, leave your suitcase in the bathtub. Don’t unpack everything. Consider keeping your bag in a thick plastic bag.

At home, store your luggage in a shed so they won’t get in your house. Wash all your clothes immediately after a trip in case they have bedbugs on them instead of putting them in the laundry basket. Don’t acquire used furniture, especially beds and sofas, unless you’re sure they don’t have bedbugs. Run used or second hand clothing through the laundry immediately after you acquire it. (This was condensed from Barbara Mikkelson’s article from, October 3 2010:

The above information should keep the bedbugs away. It’s a good thing, too, because they can bite you 500 times in one night according to the National Geographic, They’re nocturnal, they sense where you are by the carbon dioxide you exhale, thousands of them can infest a single bedroom, they administer an anesthetic so you don’t wake up, and they can drink three times their own weight in a single meal. I decided to tell you about them as a way of finding out about them myself. I don’t like them.

Listen to some Beethoven piano music, see some cartoons, and find out about my books on YouTube:

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Can True Bird-Lovers Eat Turkeys?

A bird refuge in the inland valley of California has a fund-raiser once a year – a barbeque where they grill turkeys.

They invite the townspeople to buy tickets to this event, slaughter the birds, help consume them, clean up their bones, then spend the rest of the year nursing birds with broken wings and other infirmities back to health.

I spent two days trying to stop laughing as I envisioned the bird-lovers gnawing on drum sticks. Were they aware of the irony of what they were doing and were they laughing too? I guess we all do things like this all the time in different ways: “Stop the violence!” as we munch on a cow’s bone not so different from our neighbor’s arm.

My friends Mary Beth and Wayne recently visited the Sand Hill Cranes in the Sacramento Valley in California where lots of birds go to get away from Alaska’s coldest months. Tundra Swans will come later. You can see these huge beautiful creatures in the marshlands taking off and landing in flocks. I first saw them when I was a teenager tagging along with my parents on bird watching trips with the Audubon Society. Experienced bird watchers can impressively identify dozens of birds, including different kinds of hawks, fly-catchers, song birds, and many varieties of shore birds.

When I was a kid, I used to gather up little baby birds fallen out of nests and try to feed them until they could live on their own. They never made it. Living in an apartment house, we wanted a pet, so my parents let us buy parakeets. We nailed a large tree branch to a piece of wood where they spent most of their time. When mine were new, I’d take them in the dark closet to tame them and teach them to land on my finger and rotate around my finger on command. I didn’t think at that time whether this was good or bad for the birds. I just wanted a pet.

When we were first married we bought a parakeet and named him Eldon. Once he flew into Gus’ wet oil painting, which had deadly white lead in it. We cleaned him off with paint thinner and he almost died from that. We were always listening to radio station KPFA in those days and he’d repeat “KPFA-KPFB Berkeley” throughout the day and night. Our cat Miggles was more interesting, to be replaced by four phenomenally more interesting children.

Now Gus feeds the birds in our garden out of two bird feeders: one for small goldfinches and linnets and the other for a bigger variety of birds, including titmice, nuthatches, and chickadees. He feeds them seeds, I feel compelled to tell you. You may be surprised, but I’m not going to try to attribute Enneagram types to the birds. I don’t think liking to bird-watch has much to do with personality type.

You can expect some of these behaviors from specific Enneagram types, however:

1 Perfectionists might save their habitat and protest against using insecticides.

2 Helpers might save baby birds fallen out of the nest.

3 Achievers might build bird houses.

4 Romantics might admire their beauty and use them in poetic symbolism. Some might write poetry with a quill.

5 Observers might learn scientific facts about them. Feeding them is a hobby lots of introverts especially like.

6 Questioners might fear the raptors, admire the most beautiful ones.

7 Adventurers might wish they had their freedom to fly and dream about being a bird themselves.

8 Asserters might protect them.

9 Peace Seekers might appreciate birds for being universal. But all birds aren’t as peaceful as we might like. I gave up on a hummingbird feeder I had outside my window once because they were too territorial about it.

I’ve been eating less and less meat. I’m open to becoming a vegetarian but it doesn’t seem to happen. Happy Thanksgiving!

How to Find Your Perfect Love Match

The Enneagram will help you choose a partner wisely or revive a relationship.

After writing “The Enneagram Made Easy,” Renee Baron and I were asked so many questions by people looking for a partner that we decided to write a book about the Enneagram and relationships. For “Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” (HarperCollins) we interviewed hundreds of people about their past and present relationships. We wanted to know which Enneagram combinations worked and didn’t work and why. We organized our book according to how each of the nine types gets along with the other eight types: why they like them and why they have trouble with them. We also have charts in each chapter that show which type each type chooses to pair up with most and least often .

We found that female Perfectionists, for example, pair up with male Peace Seekers most often and male Adventurers pair up with female Helpers and Romantics the most. Sometimes types choose each other because they’re so different but after a year or so, the differences that attracted them becomes a problem. Someone who seemed stimulating at first may in time seems to lack depth or appears depressed. Someone who’s attractive because he’s mellow at first may in time become objectionable because of not having enough ambition. So much depends on the combination.

“Are You My Type, Am I Yours?” helps readers become aware of their own past experiences that can shed light on their present or future involvements.

This book teaches some helpful Enneagram theory and information (subtypes, the three centers, how the Enneagram meshes with the MBTI TM system, how to tell lookalike types apart, famous pairs, and “wings and arrows”) and includes tests to identify the reader’s type. Also, people have pointed out to me (and I agree) that some of my best cartoons are in this book. Relationships make good material for cartooning.