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The Ecphorizer
Flea Fighting Follies
Tod Wicks

Several of us were having your typical Mensa dinner conversation recently, and one of the topics broached had to do with fleas. Now, anyone who lives in climates like the San Francisco Bay Area is intimately aware of the problem of fleas at this

...we surmised that fighting fleas was sort of like cloud seeding...

time of year, whether or not one owns a pet. I happen to have a dog around, which is pretty much a house dog. I also am extremely attractive to fleas. The dog sleeps on, in, under, and generally around our bed, and, more often than I'd like to admit, I see the little critters jumping under the covers.

Oh, joy! Another night of light sleeping waiting for those bastards to nibble at my ankles - strange, it's only the ankles they're after! I have read the usual warnings in the newspapers about the hazards of preventing fleas by such measures as wearing flea collars around the legs, and I naturally agree with these admonitions. Who wants to develop a rash from the active ingredients in a flea collar? After all, I may have rather hirsute legs, but certainly not like a dog's neck.

At any rate, at this particular dinner, we surmised that fighting fleas was sort of like cloud seeding experiments - you can't really tell if it's working. At best, we came up with a few ideas, both wild and wildly sane! The first was to wage psychological warfare. To do this, one must pick a flea off the dog, tell other fleas, "This one's an example of what's going to happen to the rest of you if you don't skedaddle," then dunk him in a can of trichloroethelene.

Incidentally, we arrived at "trich" after several side discussions (this ALWAYS happens in Mensal) about the worthiness of other potions: Some, like alcohol, dry too fast; while others (acetic acid) are simply too smelly.

Speaking of odors, our second method of ridding the house and dog of fleas was the "natural" method. Various conservation groups will like this one! It is a well-known fact that oil of eucalyptus is a natural flea inhibitor. We have all heard stories about people who make flea collars out of eucalyptus corns. I can see it now: Thousands of flea-sensitive folks stripping the local eucalyptus population of its means of reproduction. On second thought, maybe various conservation groups WON'T like this idea and will display bumperstickers that read "SAVE THE EUCALYPTI."

Then, there's always the "brute force" way. You simply go to your vet and buy some industrial grade flea spray and an insect bomb or two. Douse the mutt with the spray every other day for a week, then set off the bombs one weekend. Do this on a Friday morn when you plan to be away for several days. If this doesn't succeed, call in the Orkin Army!

Finally, the most effective means of ridding your domicile of fleas is to just get rid of the dog. Now this may seem heartless, but you have to take your choice here: dog and fleas, or no dog and no fleas. In digital talk, that's like an AND gate.

Oh, yes. I almost forgot to make a pitch for a guaranteed flea killer. Go down to your local lumberyard, buy two 1" x 1" x 2" blocks. Place flea on one block, and slap the other one down. Voilal Dead flea. Let's hope it was preggy.  

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Tod Wicks
A home computer aficionado [a relative rarity in 1982] with a license plate that says APPL II, our own Tod Wicks is also the originator of the Ian Faber Memorial Rallye. [for information about rallyes, check out our Special Rallye Issue.]


City Names Update 2006

Ah, how times do change, as does the familiar ring of old names of cities returning after the massive changes in Eastern Europe in the late 80s and early 90s.  Chemnitz is once again Chemnitz.  St. Petersburg is proudly back again.

And as noted to the left, some cities simply disappear off the map when other, larger, cities devour them.  This is true here in the SF Bay Area where behemouth San Jose is concerned.  Always in the shadow of San Francisco, San Jose keeps trying to gain stature among the top metropolitan areas of the world, but no matter hard this former canning center tries, it will never ever match San Francisco for style, fashion, culture, business, architecture, and pure elan.  That's not for trying, though, as San Jose has for years been gobbling up small nearby communities and adding them to "greater" San Jose:  Such places as Willow Glen, Robertsville, Almaden, Alviso, Coyote, Milpitas, oops, sorry, no one wants Milpitas.  San Jose has its eyes on San Martin and Cupertino these days.  Too bad, San Jose, you'll always by that little burg at the sourthern end of San Francisco Bay.  As a sign over a toilet in a business on Powell Street once urged:  Flush twice as San Jose needs the water.
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