Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sound off

The fewer the voices on the side of truth, the more
distinct and strong must be your own
-William Ellery Channing

...the more distinct and strong must be your own. If Channing were a zealot, he could have made this quote from the far left or the far right with equal conviction. Clearly, people are destined to disagree - and that's not an unhealthy thing. Even when stances are polar opposite, our self-made soapboxes were fashioned out of the same materials, using the same laws of physics, to support the fundamentally same belief - that our position is the just one. Of course, world events of today are a clear reminder that we can't ALL be right! Right? By the way, I have no idea who Channing is or what he stands for. That, too, seems to serve my point though. (I found this quote in my day planner, Jan. 26th's "daily dose of wisdom".)

This preamble is a gentle reminder to myself: tread smartly on your convictions, avoid becoming too entrenched. That's good stuff, and I'm glad I got it out there. (Self-congratulatory pat on the back.) Because now I'm throwing most of it out the window, and cannonballing into the domain I know so well: self-righteous opinions and the science to back it up. Boo-yah, woo hoo! Ahem.

My post from last month (Jan 23rd) touched on a topic that I've been itching to follow through on: pest management. For a lot of people, a dead bug is the best kind. In their backyard, in the park, wherever. To them I say hit the road, come back without earmuffs. To everyone else... When you see a "bug" in your home (ant, cockroach, spider, or in my current neck of the woods a scorpion) you likely do one or more of the following:

A. Scream and leave the room, hoping it goes away;
B. Grab a can of something - Pam, WD-40, Raid, anything - and spray the sucker until it crumples into a pile of goo;
C. Smash it with a shoe or paper towel, and perhaps contemplate how it got in;
D. Call an exterminator or other "expert" to come out and "address the problem"

In my experience, and I'm speaking in terms of my geographic area, the majority of people do D. They might do C, too, but D is usually used to punctuate the problem - especially if it's an ongoing pest issue or one of many intermittent ones. So what's the problem with D? Let me just first say, I am not advocating sleeping with the creepy crawlies (any more than a single woman has to these days). The "bugs" have their place, and it is not in a home, office, or school setting. This is especially true if there are infants, children, elderly, or otherwise immobilized people around. We shouldn't have to stand by and be invaded... The bugs need to stay out. Action must be taken! I think that last bit just about captures the emotions expressed by a recent group of homeowners battling long standing scorpion issues. Yes, action must be taken. On this point we are all (with rare exception) agreed: professional pest managers, entomologists, public health proponents, urban environmental health advocates, and of course, the homeowner-slash-school principal-slash-office worker. The point at which we all begin to deviate and invoke the Channing quote comes when deciding on which action(s) to take for dealing with these critters. And I take issue with D (note link).

So what's legal? What's safe? What's sane? And, of course, what's effective?

This is where my job gets really interesting.

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