On Saturday, I went to a party hosted by a friend of mine named Chris. I’m barely a sentence into this post but I’m gonna take a little tangent. The listed start time of the shin-dig was 7:30pm. I got there at 9pm thinking I’d be fashionably late. It turns out I was the first person to arrive. I hate when that happens.

Anyways, it didn’t take long for other guests to arrive. Several of them showed up in a single group. I hadn’t met these people before. One girl in the group looked vaguely and strangely familiar. Usually people whom I sorta recognize fall into two groups: people who take my fast food order or porn. She didn’t seem to fit into either of those groups. As the mystery girl busied herself with making drinks for her friends, I came up to her and introduced myself. How do I know you, I asked. She said she didn’t know but that she and my friend met each other on a dating web site. That seemed like a somewhat plausible explanation as I peruse dating web sites but it didn’t seem like the correct reason why she seemed familiar. I let Jackie (not her real name) get back to her drinks and I returned to refresh my plate with Pizza Pops.

Some time later, I sat down next to Jackie with others and she told everyone where she worked:

“I’m a graphic designer and I work PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

“Wait, do you work at 250 Howe St.”?

“Yeah, I work on the second floor.”

I instantly knew where I recognized Jackie from. A long time ago, like perhaps four years ago when things were much better in the world, my beloved skate team and I were still working at Black Box downtown, at 250 Howe Street. One day I was going up to my floor and I got into one of the elevators, which was crowded. It was full of Black Box people and also accountants from PwC. Before the doors closed, a young lady got into car with us. She didn’t look like an accountant because she was dressed more casually than the bean counters. She hit the button for the second floor. Someone must have pissed her off because she turned around to the full elevator car and said:

“Yeah, I’m taking the elevator up to the second floor, what are you gonna do about it?!?!?!!?”

The bold nature of her confrontation with the rest of us surprised me. I must admit I believed her to be a bit mentally unstable at the time. I thought she might have been having a bad day. The elevator was silent as the doors opened to the second floor and she stormed out. As the elevator returned to its ascent, they were looks of shock and some comments made at what she had said. I wondered who this crazy girl was and what was her story. I saw her several more times in the elevator after that but there were no more outbursts. My curiosity about her remained though. Alas, when EA forced us to retreat to the wastelands of Burnaby, we no longer had contact with the accountants.

Returning to the present, I immediately told Jackie why I had recognized her as soon as she arrived. I recounted the whole story to her and others within earshot. She laughed at the incident which may or may not have to do with the fact she was extremely intoxicated at the time. Back then I took her to be perhaps someone with a stick up her butt but Jackie was actually a fun person to talk to during the party.

The moral of this post is that sometimes mysteries do get solved, you just might have to wait years for that to happen.


Out of everyone I know, I was the first person to have dealt with bed bugs directly. Having finished my great struggle with them in early 2005, it would be another year to year and a half before I even read or saw a single story about bed bugs in the mainstream media. As bed bugs continued their worldwide resurgence, I began to see more and more written about them. I knew they had hit it big time when I saw a bed bug story on the local dinner hour TV news show. By 2008, two people I knew were victim of bed bugs themselves. I feel no pride in having dealt with bed bugs before they became mainstream again. There’s no hipster bed bug award.

The lessons I learned from nearly seven years ago are still with me today. The first time I checked into a hotel after leaving grad school was a different experience for me. Previously, I would have just thrown my suitcase on the bed, taken off some clothes, and laid on the bed as I leisurely settled into my room; not so going forward. Mike the pest control guy taught me well. The key is to not leave anything on the floor of the hotel room until you’ve had a chance to check things out. The suitcase should immediately go on the luggage rack that most rooms have. Get that thing off the ground. If you want to take off your jacket or any of your clothes, hang them up in the closet, never initially put any of your clothing on the bed or in the drawers. You should immediately check out the bed first. Remove all the layers of bedding, inspecting each layer as you go for tell tale signs of bed bugs, either the bastards themselves or black/red specks which are their feces. Once you get down to the mattress, lift it off the box spring. Examine the seams all around the mattress because they love hiding in there. Move out from the bed next. Take a look at the headboard, behind it if you can. Examine the nightstand as well. Always look in areas that are hard to reach or against the wall. The carpet is more difficult to inspect as you just can’t rip it up to take a look. Don’t forget to look at the drawers in the dresser. Bed bugs can be transported in clothing, so you don’t know if the last guest might have left you some friends behind. Consider bringing a small LED flashlight with you when you travel as the light can greatly assist you in your hotel inspection.

Several decades ago, bed bugs were almost unheard of in the first world. The use of DDT had eradicated them from most developed countries. As increased air travel made the world smaller and as environmental restrictions made DDT use less prevalent, it appears bed bugs have returned for the long run. I wonder if we will ever be rid of them.

You can find the other posts of this series here.


Though the new pest company certainly gave me a very bad first impression, they were more cordial in my subsequent dealings with them. Once they actually stopped to get my bed bug treatment history, they tailored their pesticide treatment to my own situation. As the weeks passed, random bed bug bites gave way to no more bites. My long, personal battle with those bastard bed bugs was essentially over by March (if my fuzzy memory is correct). It was difficult, however, to change so many of the habits that I was forced to pick up. I continued to keep my clothes bagged. Some items that I had in the bedroom didn’t leave the bedroom until I moved out, just on the small chance some dormant bed bug was still alive. By that time, I had read that a researcher had witnessed a bed bug go more than a year between feedings. Overall though, the majority of the second semester of that academic year and the last semester of grad school for me, had nothing to do with bed bugs.

There were just a few loose ends to tie up before the school year ended. The first was the issue of compensation for what UBC Housing knowingly let me to move into. Had UBC Housing not known there were bed bugs in my apartment before I moved in, I don’t think I’d have any case for compensation; same if I had actually brought them in myself. The truth, however, was something they couldn’t avoid. UBC Housing knew they had an infested apartment. They tried to treat it but failed to confirm the problem was gone before letting me move in. Those were simple facts. I wrote a long e-mail to the Director of UBC Housing. It was a polite, yet firm message detailing all that I had to go through over the last few months. I stressed that UBC Housing had a mission statement of supplying more than just a roof over my head, that it was supposed to give me a safe environment from which I could live and study. I forget what I asked for in return but I know that I got a 50% reduction in housing fees for half a year. It wasn’t exactly free housing but at least it was something.

The second thing I received was a new mattress. I had brought my own mattress to sleep on when I moved it. As the mattress was on the floor, the odds of it being a home for bed bugs was likely. Even though I had bagged it and put in pesticide strips, UBC Housing believed it wasn’t a good idea for me to bring that mattress home. They gave me a brand new mattress, which for weeks I kept in its original bag propped up against a living room wall, in the safe zone. When it was time to move out, I simply brought the new mattress home and left the old one in the bedroom.

The last thing I got was the smallest item but probably had the most emotional meaning. One day after one of the pesticide treatments, near the end of the battle, curiosity got the better of me. For some reason, I wanted to lift my mattress off the floor to see if there were any of those little bastards underneath it. I knew it was a bad idea but I just had this urge to do it. As a kid, I used to lift rocks when I was outside sometimes and I learned all manner of creepy things liked to hang out underneath things. So, I did it in one quick motion. As I looked at the bare carpet, I didn’t see anything at first, relief beginning to wash over me. Then, I saw it. There was a single bed bug, barely moving. I thought it was going to dash away quickly so I panicked somewhat but it didn’t go anywhere. It was dying and it was trying to move but it couldn’t. I had no pity for it. I wondered for a second if any of my blood was inside its body. It didn’t matter. For some reason, I wanted a memento of this battle, a trophy of sorts. I went away to get a small plastic container and a pencil. Using the pencil, I picked up the bed bug and deposited into the container. I then taped the container closed with masking tape. I must have examined that dying bed bug for about ten minutes. I kept tapping the container to get it to move. Was it hungry? Was it dying because of the pesticides or the weight of the mattress? It finally died not long after I captured it. I felt no remorse for it at all. I kept the plastic container on my desk for the remainder of my time in that apartment, which was months and months. When I finally moved out of that apartment in September of 2005, I made sure to move that container with me. I continued to keep that container on my desk for years afterwards. My bite scars had healed a long time ago but that container had a real and tangible reminder that these things made my life terrible for a good part of my last year in grad school. I’d sometimes look at that dead bed bug and think how great it was that in the end, I won that battle. I don’t have that container any more, I threw it away before I moved into my current apartment.

For those who are wondering, when I moved all my stuff back to my parents’ place, no bed bugs hitched along for the ride. Everything I had done and that the pest control companies had done led to that good outcome. So there you have it, my long and personal story about my first and hopefully last encounter with bed bugs.

Oh, don’t fret though, I have an epilogue post coming up because I wanna drag this thing out for one more post.

You can find the other posts of this series here.



I really did have genuine intentions of writing part eight of my battle with bed bugs but I was playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution tonight and I got really close to the end, so I figured I’d just keep going to finish the game. Get to the end I did indeed. Well done, Eidos Montreal! It’s good to see Canadian talent shine through on the international video game stage. Um, it also didn’t help that some pics of Scarlett Johansson (reportedly) in the nude showed up on Reddit. I went there to strictly read the comments… honestly. Stay tuned for part eight tomorrow.


As mentioned in part six, things settled into a holding pattern. I’d still get random bites every once in a while but certainly not like in the beginning when I was covered in them. Mike the pest control guy would come by and continue to do spot treatments. Mary from UBC Housekeeping would sometimes call to find out how things were going. Then one week, Mary called to say they were going to try something new. She informed me they weren’t going to use Mike’s services any more and that UBC Housing had contracted another pest control company. She wanted the new guys to drop by apartment and talk to me about my situation and formulate a plan going forward. I thought Mike was a nice guy but since I wasn’t paying for the pest control, there wasn’t much I could do. I agreed to let the new guys come by the next day to talk to me.

The next day rolls around and I get a knock on the door at the appointed time. I open the door and some portly dude who looks like a construction worker is on my door step. He asks if I’m me. I tell him I sure am me. He then looks over my shoulder and asks why my fridge hasn’t been pulled out the alcove. The question confuses me as no one has told me why I needed that done. Dude then asks me why my living room hasn’t been cleared of my belongings. I tell him there must be some misunderstanding as no one told me any of this. Dude then asks me why I haven’t prepared for their arrival. I again tell him this is news to me. I try to explain to him where I’m at in the treatment phase but he doesn’t seem to want to listen. He gets in my face and tells me if I want to get rid of bed bugs, I need to be serious about this and that I should comply with all his demands. This gets me angry. I haven’t even known this guy for five minutes, he neglected to even ask me kind of treatments have already been done, and most importantly, he has no clue how serious I am about getting rid of bed bugs. Had he asked, I would have told him about the bagged clothes, my upstairs clothes, my downstairs clothes, and the fact I sleep on a bagged mattress filled with insecticide. How’s that for serious?

I tell him that if he wants to listen to my story and then formulate a plan going forward, that’s fine but I’m not about to let him march in here and spray behind my fridge because there hasn’t been a single bit of evidence there were bed bugs downstairs. He leaves in a huff and I’m still incensed. I almost immediately march off to the UBC Housing office which is thankfully close by. I get to the front desk where I tell the receptionist I need to see Mary immediately. I patiently wait a few minutes and stew before she comes out. She barely finishes her hello before I ask her who were that clown that she had sent me just minutes earlier. I launch into an angry recount of the verbal exchange I had with dude. I tell Mary it was absolutely disrespectful in the way he had talked to me. I say that it was most insulting that he just assumed I wasn’t serious about getting rid of bed bugs. He didn’t even bother to get my story before making assumptions. I finally tell Mary that this was just another failure on UBC Housing’s part, first knowingly giving me a bed bug infested apartment (without full disclosure) and then changing pest control companies with idiots like the one I just met. I briefly look over to the receptionist who appears to not want to be at her desk. I don’t care, I’m angry and Mary needs to hear this. Mary apologizes and says that behaviour was unacceptable. She promised me that she’d phone the new pest control company and pass along my comments. I get her to phone me back with any developments going forward. I also tell her that if this is the way the new company would be handling things, UBC Housing should keep looking.

A day later, I get a phone call from someone at the new pest control company. It’s not the guy from yesterday but someone higher up. He’s very apologetic. I let him know exactly why I thought yesterday’s dude was completely out of line. He agrees. I tell him how everything could have gone way better had dude just asked me a few questions instead of assuming things. Phone dude again agrees with me and asks if I’m willing to let another dude come by and a real assessment this time. I say yes but it better not be the same dude. Phone dude thanks me for giving them another chance. He then tells me in the meantime to go look in my mail box after the phone call.  After we hang up, I go to the common block and my mail box. Inside is a $20 gift certificate good at the UBC Bookstore, courtesy of the pest control company. A nice gesture I suppose.

Some time passes and for some reason, I have to phone Mary to ask her some questions. I phone the UBC Housing office to get transferred to her line. The receptionist replied with an awkward tone, “oh… um, she doesn’t work here anymore”. The way she said it made me think Mary didn’t leave under the most ideal conditions. Sure, she might have quit but usually quitting doesn’t elicit that type of response when you ask for them at their old company. I’d also like to think that if she quit, she would have had the courtesy to let me know she was leaving and that my case would be handled by her successor, whoever that might have been. By then, we’d been trying to rid my apartment of bed bugs for months. I got no such indication from her that she was voluntarily leaving. She was most likely fired. If that was indeed the case, I have mixed feelings about that. She didn’t deserve to be fired just because there were bed bugs infesting various UBC Housing residences. Bed bugs can be brought into a residence in any number ways. Where the area gets a bit murky is if she was the one that decided to assign new residents into apartments and rooms that she knew had previous infestations without confirming the bed bugs had been eliminated. I have no idea if she knew about those previous problems and if she had the power to stop assignments from being made. Whatever the reason Mary left, it didn’t matter, she was now gone and I had to talk to her replacement going forward.

In the next part, the battle draws to a close and I claim my status as a bed bug survivor.

You can find the other posts of this series here.


In a previous post, I detailed my attempts to paint over some drywall repairs that my apartment developer did as part of their new home warranty obligations. I had to paint over repairs over three walls. As I reported in the last post, things did not go well. The paint I got from the store had a greater sheen than the paint already on my walls. The new paint coloured correctly but it was noticeably shinier than the rest of the wall. Thinking I could solve this by just getting the same paint colour in flat (as opposed to eggshell), I got more paint.

I painted the repaired areas again this weekend with the new flat paint. It didn’t take long after the first coat to realize I had failed again. The new paint is slightly more flat that my original paint, so there’s again a noticeable difference in sheen. What’s worse, the colour matching is now completely off. The paint is noticeably lighter than the rest of my walls. I later was told this is because the same colour of paint looks darker as the sheens get shinier. I wish I had known that beforehand.

There’s not a lot I can do going forward. With one wall, I’ve pretty much painted over the whole thing so it’s a no-brainer to just keep painting over just a few more spots and it’ll all be even. A second wall just had a small horizontal strip, so I think I can live with that. It’s the third wall that’s problematic. There were two medium-sized spots to paint but the third wall is the longest and largest wall in my apartment. It’d be a huge hassle to paint over it. There are multiple door frames and outlets to paint around. That wall also contains the fake fireplace I have (which I’ve always disliked). The wall also has the most furniture against it, including the two heaviest things I have in the apartment, my 50″ TV and the huge bookcase next to it which has all my movies, my Xbox 360, my Blu-ray player, my cable box, and whole bunch of other entertainment related gear. I’d have to move all that stuff to just paint the wall.

I’m sick of painting, maybe I should just put up wallpaper next time.


The date this Sunday will be September 11, 2011 and as many of you know, it will mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the US. That date has cemented itself in the history books as being significant. Long before that day, a decade ago, September 11th was always an important date to me, all my life. September 11 was the day my parents were married. As a kid, the second week of September went like clock-work: start school and then go out to dinner for my parents’ wedding anniversary. I admit, there were a few years during university that I forgot but I am sure my parents appreciated having dinner by themselves a few times.  Now that I’m a grown-up (sorta) I make it a requirement that I pay for their dinner every year. In fact, I remember their anniversary dinner ten years ago this Sunday. We went to dinner at a restaurant that’s been now torn down for new apartments but back then we had lobster; it was delicious. We’re going out for dinner this Sunday as my mother made the reservations tonight.

Though on Sunday, one news story will dominate the head lines, it’s interesting to note that many different things that happen on any given day. As I’ve noted, my parents got married on an 11th day of September but so did many other people across the globe. Thousands of people were born on a September 11th, in fact, there are many children who will turn ten years on Sunday. There are any number of milestones that will be marked on Sunday, some sad and obviously some happy.

Thanks Mom and Dad for staying together all these years and producing myself and my sister!


I wasn’t planning on writing about recycling tonight but I just went to put some bottles and plastic containers in my building’s recycling room. I’ve noticed for a while that some people put no effort into sorting their recyclables. It’s as if they treat recycling bins as another garbage bin where someone is going to throw out the stuff that doesn’t belong and sort the stuff that does. The bins are clearly marked with what is acceptable and what isn’t. There are even pictures so that if you can’t read English, you can understand the whole process.

Tonight I saw stuff in the wrong bins. I saw items that clearly weren’t recyclable in the recycle bins.  I saw a paper bag full of glass containers in the containers bin. It takes seconds to empty out the bag and then place the bag in the paper bin. Why can’t people just go the distance?  I also saw a plastic bag full of recyclable items like paper, bottles, and plastic containers just sitting in the paper bin. Sort your damn stuff!


As the days wore on into weeks, I settled into this bed bug war which reached a sort of equilibrium. The initial flurry of numerous bites stopped but I kept randomly getting one or two bites at odd intervals. Mike the pest control guy would come back and redo the treatments. It began to wear at my psychologically a bit. Just thinking about the reality of the situation gave me the shivers. There exists on this planet small tiny creatures that wait for you to sleep, when you are at your most vulnerable. When you are then completely defenseless, these creatures come out of their hiding spots and then crawl onto your body. Once on your body, they pierce your skin with an appendage, the goal being to suck blood out of your body so that they have a meal. After being engorged with your own blood, they make there way back to their hiding spots, sometimes stopping to defecate in your bedding, defecating your blood. I kept thinking that not only did these vile creatures exist, they were living in my bedroom. Such thoughts made it difficult to sleep at times.

I began thinking how little I respected bed bugs. They were parasites. They lived in your stuff, usually near where you slept.. They crapped in your stuff. They laid eggs in your stuff. There were so many more kinds of insects I had more respect for. People think cockroaches are disgusting but compare them to bed bugs. Cockroaches are just interested in food, the food you might have in your kitchen or pantry. You can understand that right? They want the cereal left out on the table. Hey, they like Captain Crunch as much as you do. Cockroaches most likely can be found in a kitchen. They’re not in you freaking bed and they sure aren’t wanting to suck your blood. Spiders can be freaky at times but they aren’t spinning their webs to catch you. They want to eat other bugs, hell even bed bugs perhaps. I respect that… me and Charlotte, we cool. Hell, let’s talk about mosquitoes. Skeeters, like bed bugs, want your blood but at least they’re a proper type of villain. First, they fly, they don’t crawl over you and your bedding. They also don’t live in your stuff. If they manage to get a meal outta you, they fly away and leave you alone. They don’t proceed to crawl back into your night stand and then take a dump there. Skeeters also have the decency to come at you when you’re awake, making it at least a fair fight. Even if they try biting you at night, they make enough noise that you can hear them. Skeeters are ok when compared to bed bugs. Out of all the species we have driven to extinction, why can’t bed bugs be next on the list?

All this thinking about bed bugs made me schedule an appointment with Alexis, the residence life manager. We met at her office and as we sat down I read her the UBC Housing mission statement which in part stated some desire to provide students with a safe and nurturing environment in which to study and live. I asked if she knew what I had just read. She did and I asked her if UBC Housing had fulfilled that mission in my case given that they had put me into an apartment that they knew contained creatures that were waiting for me to go to sleep so they could drink my blood. Alexis correctly answered that perhaps UBC Housing had not given me the best environment to live in. She was very understanding and I felt she wanted to help me but could not give me as much assistance as I perhaps wanted. She wasn’t in an administrative role unlike Mary. What Alexis did offer me was several days of free accommodations at UBC Conference housing. These were fully furnished small apartments, more like hotel rooms that were used for conference guests. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay there long term. I believe I was only able to stay there for two weekends. I basically used it to sleep. I’d study well into the night at my apartment and then packed up my PJs and headed across campus to sleep in conference housing. It was a bit of a hassle but at least it was worry free sleep.

In my next post, someone gets fired! Exciting!

You can find the other posts of this series here.


I know some of you are waiting for part six of my bed bug saga but I admit I just ran out of time tonight. Yes, I probably played too much Deus Ex but I also had domestic duties to attend to. I ironed some clothes. I took out the garbage. I washed my dishes. I did laundry. I had dinner with my parents.

Don’t worry, I will see the bed bug saga right to the end. I can’t stop now. If you type in “UBC Housing bed bugs” into Google, I’m the second result, so I can’t let those people down!