Challenge – Be Bored For A Week

office-worker

I tried to be bored, but the voices inside my head wouldn’t let me.

Bored

Actually, I really didn’t try, because there was only one voice inside my head – and it was mine.  I gave it a shot, but quickly found that any time I stopped thinking about everything/anything, I wound up back at my Gravatar description, researching something else that would do me no good at all, except as blog-fodder.

I tried some of that mindless Yoga contemplation – didn’t work!  As soon as I stopped thinking about blog-posts, and useless trivia, into my head popped Spring Byington.  She was a C-grade actress who only had one television series, called December Bride.  It ran from 1954 to 1959.

She played a middle-aged, divorced woman, living with her grown daughter, and everybody was trying to fix her up with another husband.  A (relatively) young Harry Morgan played the intrusive neighbor.  The gimmick was that, like Howard Wolowitz’s mother on The Big Bang Theory, his acerbic wife was often heard, but never seen.

***

In researching a trip to Detroit, MI, I found that there are several other Detroits in the US, including Detroit TX….which is near Oklahoma City….which reminded me of the Jim Croce song, Rapid Roy, where he sings about transporting illegal moonshine, “Runnin’ from the man in Oklahoma City, with a 500 gallon tank.”

How much would 500 gallons of white lightning weigh?  Hmmm – almost 4400 pounds!  Certainly not something to be carried in a stripped-down, hopped-up sedan, or even a pickup truck, and definitely not while trying to out-speed or out-maneuver State Police vehicles.

***

Almost as soon as electric rice cookers became available, the wife had to have one.  Six months later, they “New and Improved” them, by adding a tray in which you could steam things like the frozen dumplings that she likes to add to her homemade chicken soup.  Recently, on Facebitch, someone offered a new Black and Decker unit with the steamer tray, for $15.

When we went to pick it up, the irony was that it was offered for sale by a young Chinese-Canadian woman, still living with her barely-speak-English immigrant parents.  On the drive home I relaxed – and the voice in my head said ‘taffeta.’

There may be more than one of me inside, what I thought was, my empty head.  Almost immediately, the same/different voice said, ‘I’ll see you the taffeta, and raise you organdy and sateen.’  They’re all thin, bright, shiny fabrics, often used as decoration on women’s clothing.  Why would I even know that they exist, much less bring them up to myself during a car ride??!

It’s a wonder that I ever get any particular project completed, with all these odd thoughts and factoids caroming around at strange angles inside my brain, like a bumper car ride.  I’ve proved that I can’t bore myself.  I just hope that I haven’t bored you.  Stop back soon for a ham on rye post – something with a little more meat to it. 🙂

’18 A To Z Challenge – G

 

Challenge '18Letter G

For the letter G, I want to take you from Sheep to Socks, through

GADGETS

In my Rapunzel post, I told of my daughter, who is a spinster – literally a woman who spins yarns.  While she also does it with cotton, bamboo, milkweed silk, dog fur, angora, llama and other, more exotic fibers, she most often spins wool.  There’s a lot more to it than just spinning, so I thought I’d show you some of the gadgets necessary to get from a naked ewe, to a well-clad me.

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Most sheared fleece the daughter obtains, has already been washed.  If not, she has to soak it clean to remove dust, dirt, and the natural lanolin.  The above picture is of two hand carders.  Like giant, curved brushes, handfuls of the raw wool are placed on one of them, and then ‘combed,’ to align all the fibers.  Hand-carding is a long, tedious operation.  She also has a hand-cranked drum-carder, but needs the moved-away grandson, to run it.  Usually she just purchases ‘roving,’ which is a commercially produced, loose, fluffy rope of fiber, already for spinning.

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This is a drop-spindle.  Hung vertically, and brushed against the leg to rotate it, the yarn grows ‘up’ until it’s wound onto the spindle to hold it, and the process is repeated.  This one is fairly small, for producing delicate yarns.  Depending on the size, these can produce anything from the finest yarn, up to ships’ ropes.

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These are slightly larger drop-spindles for heavier yarns, one wound with thread the daughter has already produced.  These are all commercially made, but the daughter has several that she built herself from readily available household items.

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This is the smaller one of the daughter’s spinning wheels.  Her larger, better one has two foot treadles, to prevent a sore, tired leg from pumping with just one foot.  Through gear-ratio, the large wheel rotates the small spindle quite quickly, and the thread/yarn flows off as fast as the spinner can keep up.

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This little storage bobbin hangs off the side of the spinning wheel.  As the loose yarn accumulates, it can be temporarily wound on here, until the batch is finished.

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This is called a Knitty-Knotty.  The finished yarn is wound on from the bobbin, up-down, back and forth, then slipped off as a skein.  A loose skein of yarn is not handy to knit from.  The yarn can tangle, or it can fall to the floor.

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This gadget is known as a swift.  A skein can be held in the Vee of the center.  The shaft slides up and down to change its spread, and match the circumference of any skein.  You may notice that all these gadgets are made of wood.  Spinners and craftsmen developed and built their ancestors from wood, long before metal crafting became cheap and commonly possible, so there has been little reason to change what works in wood, into metal.  Steel/aluminum swifts are available, but they are not as inexpensive, tend to jam or tear yarn, and fall apart sooner.

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At this point, the daughter’s yarn reels off the wife’s swift, and goes onto her winder, to produce a small, firm, easy to find and control ball, that will sit on her lap, or drop into a knitting bag.  This is about the only gadget which has successfully been fabricated from plastic and metal.  Like a little sewing machine, the wire arm shuttles back and forth, to produce that round, even ball.

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The daughter knits a variety of things.  Her hand-spun yarns and knitted items can be viewed online at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective .  In the past, the wife has also knitted a wide range of clothing items, but now concentrates on custom-fitted socks.  Non-elastic socks don’t ‘fit all.’  She makes them for the daughter, our son, the grandson and now his fiancée.  The above pair were lovingly crafted for me, when it became apparent that my aging body couldn’t pump enough blood to my feet at night to keep them warm enough so that I could sleep.

***

In last year’s A To Z Challenge – K I included information about Herbert, Lord Kitchener, for whom this city is now named.  While not a very nice man, he did accomplish one nice thing.  Hand-knit socks, the only kind available back then, were basically tubes.  The toes were sewn closed, leaving a protruding, rough ridge on the inside.

Kitchener found that, after marching his men for hundreds of miles, their toes were raw and bloody, and the men would refuse to march further, or be unable to manoeuvre when needed.  He went to some women who knitted socks, explained the problem, and asked if there was a solution.  At least one of them said that there was, and explained it to him (or his aide.)

Without being able to knit a stitch himself, he is given credit for “The Kitchener Stitch,” which is not really a stitch, but rather, a type of grafting, or weaving, which closes the ends of socks smoothly.  Of course, the wife knows all about it, and uses it on every pair she knits.

Th-th-that’s all folks – for this time.  I hope to see your electronic footprints back here soon.  They could even be in a special pair of socks if you play your cards right.  😀

HELP!

Spring

Help, I need somebody!
Help, not just anybody.
Help, you know I need someone.
Help!

I could have used some help with this week’s Flash Fiction. I went to Rochelle’s site and examined the photo prompt.  It looked like a couple of beef leg bones in a clear plastic public garbage bag.  The only thought I had was about some greasy-spoon diner that served overly large chicken wings.  You’re better off without that story.

I decided instead, to request aid and succor from my readers. This week, in several different places, I have seen a post of 15 questions given to 8 to 10-year-old children to find out if they are geniuses (genii).  I took the test myself.  I got the right answers to 13 out of the 15 questions, so I can probably outwit some students, before they enter Middle School.

For most of the questions, when the correct answer is revealed, it’s obvious. For three of the remaining four, when the answer is shown, a note pops up to explain why and how.  I got two of these right, and two of them wrong.  One of my errors was explained, but the other one wasn’t.

I was going to leave a comment/question, asking for clarification, but found that the test is based on Facebook, and I don’t have a Facebook account to access it. Have any of my readers seen this test?  Do you know what I’m referring to?  Do you know the answer?  Do you have a Facebook account?

Here’s the question that stumped me. I guess I’ll never grow up to be an insightful genius.

Bing is to Ding
as Hug is to….
Hit/Bug/Enemy/Friend

Transposing initial letters, and answering ‘Bug’, seemed a bit too simplistic for a question searching for geniuses, but it’s the one I eventually settled for.

The correct answer is ‘Friend!’  I see how the word Hug relates to Friend, but now I can’t divine a similar relationship between Bing and Ding.

A little help – please!   😳

Yenta

I’ve Got A Secret!

I’ve got a secret, and I’m not gonna tell you.  Nyah, nyah.

Gossip

I am not a gossip.
I do not betray a confidence.
I do not gossip.
I hate gossips!
I think they suffer from a character defect.
I feel they lack self-control, and moral and ethical standards.
I am not a gossip!

I recently discovered why I am not a gossip.  In my long, loner, loser life, no-one has felt me important enough to entrust me with information that I could pass on, or a confidence that I could betray.  It’s easy to not be a sinner, when you’ve never been tempted.  That changed recently.  Somebody told me something.
SOMEBODY!  TOLD!  ME!  SOMETHING!
HOLY SHIT!!

Steam ears

I always thought that cartoon characters with steam pouring from their ears were just a joke.  I’ve got lots of empty space inside my head to absorb an explosion.  Damn, I almost lost my eardrums.  I found one of my eyebrows under a footstool.  It’s a good thing I was sitting down.  I had an attack of the vapors. Everything got fuzzy, and swirled around.  I needed a mint julep to calm my nerves.

‘I need to set up a Twitter account!  I’ll have to open a Facebook page!  Is the computer turned on?  Hand me the cell phone!  Will the extension ladder reach the roof?  I have to get up there and shout this out!’

Easy boy!  Just stick your head in a bucket of ice cubes and water.

About a year ago, I thought I did a favor for a friend.  She didn’t provide all the necessary relevant information, and I recently found that, instead of being of assistance, I’d just been spinning my wheels.  When she fully briefed me, I was able to make an informed choice of a different option.  It’s still early days yet, but this time I think it’s going to take.

To ensure the greatest likelihood of success for another small favor, she filled me in with some background information.  It was like watching the movie Inception.  REALITY CHANGED.  Nothing was what it had seemed.

The information wasn’t down and dirty, or evil and perverted.  In fact, quite the opposite!  This news was happy, joyous, fulfilling, uplifting – just social and legal stuff that needed to be dealt with before the general public is allowed to know about it.

This is “Christ Is Risen” news.  I should be riding from village to village on a donkey, proclaiming the glorious story.  You should know me from afar by the golden radiant glow of the wondrous tale within me – and I can’t say a word.

The wife and son and daughter know the lady, and like her.  They’ve worried for a while because she seemed to be stressed, but now feel better because things seem to be going smoother.  They would approve of the information.  They would be ecstatic to know the full truth, but I cannot say a thing.  Don’t ask me.

Two people can keep a secret – if one of them is dead.  While I am sometimes tempted, I really don’t want to have to shoot a couple of them.  I’m just going to sit here with a knowing smile on my face, and bask in the warm glow of the trust I’ve been given.  In the fullness of time, this situation will resolve itself, and I will no longer be the only one who is permitted to be thrilled for my our friend.

In the meantime….I do not have a character defect.  I do possess self-control, as well as moral and ethical standards.  I am not a gossip!  I am happy that my friend will be happy, and she will be happy if I keep my mouth shut.  If only others could.

 #460

Intelligentsia

I have previously written about haunting a website called Dictionary.com.  Since I started blogging, I visit less often, but still stop in at least once a day, to do my on-line crossword.  I also use it to translate foreign words and phrases, sometimes to get an idea of the meanings of non-English names.  Johnny Carson commented one night about the awe and fascination Americans have for foreign names.  “There’s a fancy new restaurant in town, named La Fourchette.”  It’s a French fork!

I used to read a couple of articles a week about the development of the English language.  There were discussion threads under them for people to make comments, ask questions or disagree with the post.  I was amazed by a couple of things.  I would have thought that those coming to a dictionary site would already have a fairly good grasp of the language.  I was hugely disappointed to see grade six level usage by people who mentioned jobs.  Even a McJob these days requires decent language skills.

I also thought that only those interested in improving their English would show up, but read posts like, “im Amanda and im going to miss upshalls grade five math class at xyz elementary school.”  This isn’t Facebook chicky.  Take the time you spent formatting this non-message and study the word-of-the-day.

Another thing which perplexed me would be an interesting word usage discussion, followed by one or more yahoos posting things like, “you guys are dum who gives a shit”.  Obviously we do, but if you don’t, why are you hanging around an English site?  Why don’t you go to a NASCAR site, or watch a fishing show, Bubba?

Some of the comments showed real (illiterate) antipathy for anyone trying to improve themselves and their language skills.  I’m obviously not the only one to notice or comment on this phenomenon.  I read a post the other day where the writer said, “It is a seriously scary thought that there are sub-sets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing!”

We sometimes blame teachers, or the education system, or even society, when Johnny can’t read.   Johnny’s immediate society may have something to do with it, because he’s obviously been raised with the intent not to learn – reading, or anything else.  In an article about food served to children at schools, the government had decreed that, for the purposes of nutrition, pizza was (contained) a vegetable.  The following is Bob Johnson’s considered opinion.

“i think that pizza being a veggy is hoped mostly because it only has a veggy dose not mean that checan pot pies should be a veggy!!!!  if pizzas a veggi then cows are envolpopes”

I only hope that Bob Johnson is a school student, and not the student’s father.  Actually, a real McJob doesn’t require you to read.  Some fast-food places have had to install cash registers with little pictures of the foods, so that geniuses like this push the right buttons.

There was a story that Webster’s Dictionary was removing 20 words from its smallest, abridged dictionary, to make room for new words and usages.  They based this decision on their counts of how often these words were accessed on their online dictionary.  The discussion thread was immediately full of comments from people who thought that these words were somehow being removed from the entire language.  One of the clearer thoughts on the subject was the following.

“why do people have to think that have to rid of these words when it it the people who chose to say what they say and half the time it is what they have grown up listening to”

I saw a suggestion today that people who are caught texting or talking while driving should have their cell-phones impounded, the way we impound cars for DUI, or racing.  I’ve been told that, despite the stupid abbreviations, texting actually improves teens’ spelling and composition skills.  Ladies and gentlemen, check your children’s language skills.  If your kid’s writing skills look like either of the above, confiscate the cell-phone and stick it up….where it will make them sit tall to study their English text.  Confiscate the game console and the TV in their bedroom too, and don’t give them back until they can submit a clearly written letter, requesting them.

Do school-kids even have English texts anymore?  In a conversation about language, I was asked, “Why do you study English?  We all speak it.”  And then the native-born Canadian asked the immigrant from Chile to help him fill in his production report.  Am I repeating myself from a previous post?  It bears repeating, and at least I’m doing so with correct construction and spelling.

I don’t know how to inspire our youth to study and learn our home and native language.  I don’t know how to change our schools and education system so that students actually acquire skills and knowledge.  I’d like to eliminate the feel-good, lib-left bureaucrats who design basket-weaving curricula and promote students who don’t know subjects.  I’d like to go back to solid rote-learning, and tough-love teachers who expect, nay demand, that students learn something, and can prove they did.

We’re on the slippery slope kids, and the bottom of the handbasket has been greased.  Something needs to be done.  Does anyone have any informed opinions?

Sugar Beets Boredom

Several months ago, I posted about having been dragged to a hearing test and receiving new, electronic hearing assisters.  About a month later, I blogged about our dissatisfaction with the assembly-line medicine, the cash-register attitude and the lack of ethics, if not down-right illegal actions, of our first supplier.  We took a bit of a financial hit, but turned in our first hearing-aids and went with the Arnold Hearing Center.

The whole feeling with Arnold’s was family-friendly and helpful.  The new hearing aids we were given do more, and cost less. We can direct them with little remote controls.  We got a Wii media broadcaster which plugs into the A/V output of our TV, and makes it seem as if we are right in the middle of the program dialog.

When we went back for some fine-tuning, I mentioned to the tech that I had blogged about the experience.  He requested my website info, and read the post.  He passed on the information to the company exec responsible for electronic communication.  He, in turn, liked the compliment, and reposted it on the company Facebook page.  When we went back for further adjustment, he thanked me, and wondered if the wife and I would be willing to attend a luncheon meeting to promote his supplier’s new Wii (why) system and give a little, man-who-uses-it appreciation speech.

We said we would be thrilled to repay all their kind service, especially for a free lunch.  Then he said that he would like to get one more person.  Since it was the daughter who precipitated the whole situation, we volunteered her.

The meeting was to be held at a place called Hacienda Sarria.  In 1902, a large factory was built out on the edge of, what was then, Berlin, Ontario.  It extracted sugar from locally grown sugar-beets, and helped the town grow into a city.  Because of anti-Germany sentiments toward a pugnacious Kaiser, and a country about to drag the western world into war, Berlin changed its name to the more English, Kitchener, in 1912.  Lord Kitchener, who the town took their name from, was a pompous British military prat, guilty of a couple of massacres, but, at least he wasn’t German.

Times, and sugar, changed.  In 1920 the plant closed down.  Over the years it was used for a variety of commercial endeavors, and large chunks off both ends were torn down.  It sat vacant for several years until a Toronto entrepreneur bought it in 2004.  He wanted to fix it up and make it his residence, but the bureaucrats were immovable.  The land was zoned commercial, so commercial it must be.

Genius ensued.  Plans were modified.  All the fix-up proceeded, only now, one end of the bottom floor is rented to a tile company.  Beside it, a coffee-roastery/coffee shop was installed.  You can buy special coffees and/or enjoy them on the premises.  The other end was made into a reception area with a couple of small meeting/dining rooms.  The floor of the middle of the second story was cut out leaving a three-storey-high glass-roofed atrium.  The floors are all done in ceramic tile.  Gee, I wonder where they came from.

Behind the coffee-house is a fair-sized dining room and kitchens to serve it.  The owner solicits wedding reception business.  That room can have the tables removed for a dance, with patterned, softwood floor.  The very Canadian owner wanted something Latin-themed.  While it would never fool anyone from the southwest USA, the architecture vaguely resembles the Alamo mission, and the internal decoration leans south of the border.

Yellow brick and square wooden beams are everywhere, giving a rustic look.  Ars est celare artem – the art is to conceal the art.  Someone did a lot of work.  New fancy lights, light switches, thermostats, motion detectors all exist, but they are understated, and look as if they just “grew there”.  No cables or conduits are visible.  Even the pipes for the fire sprinklers seem as if they are part of the original installation.

We weren’t allowed to go upstairs.  The second and third levels are the owner’s living quarters.  With the usual bureaucratic stupidity, the city insists that he can’t have the building as a residence, but the owner of a commercial establishment is allowed to reside in the building for security reasons.  It’s not complete yet.  He continues to add finishing touches.

There is an organic garden past the end of the parking area, where the chef grows fresh vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen.  The owner had a local fabricator/artist fashion a double-size copper statue of Don Quixote.  His horse was finished and installed, and then, a couple of months later Don and his lance were hoisted aboard.  Plans include replicas of Sancho Panza and his mule, and a water-storage tower at the back of the garden will become a windmill.

The meal included a Caesar salad, tomato basil chicken with linguine, berries with fresh whipped cream and a Hacienda blend coffee from the roaster out front, or tea.  The food was good considering the bulk, industrial, cook and hold requirement.  I’m spoiled.  While the presentation isn’t as elegant, I eat that well at home.  The Hacienda’s presentation was top-notch.  The tables were properly set and maintained.  The service was crisp and friendly.

Sadly, the daughter and I had another appointment, and we had to leave before dessert and coffee, the subject of another rant, another day.  She and the wife got a cup of the coffee while we were waiting for the circus to arrive.  The wife thinks it’s great stuff.

We were treated graciously and efficiently by Hacienda, Arnold, and Starkey staff.  Because of our afternoon appointment, we had to leave before dessert and coffee.  While they probably would have been delicious, I had already exceeded my calorie allowance.  Even though we were more than willing to put in a good word just for previous good service, the Arnold rep. made sure we had some nice parting gifts.  The wife is already planning how to use our gift cards at Kitchener’s largest mall.  All in all, a most enjoyable social outing we could not have afforded on my retirement pension.

Lost And Found

Some people can handle electronic communication.  Most people can’t even handle reality.  I notice, among those blogs I read, that some folks are connected just about every way there is to be connected.  Besides the blog, there is Facebook, and Pinterest, and Stumbledupon, and, and….you know who you are, and all the ways you have for others to feed your egos.

Every day there are more videos of inattentive fools walking into fountains, and light poles and each other.  I watched one walk off the edge of a train platform yesterday.  He really smashed his left knee on the edge of the platform, and then banged his shoulder and head on the steel rail.  Ontario has passed a law prohibiting the use of handheld electronic devices by the driver of a vehicle.

The Mayor of Toronto was photographed reading a document while driving to work.  A newspaper columnist asked if it was not illegal to take a picture of him while driving, but it could well have been a passenger who did so.  There was a small plane crash in British Columbia, which killed the pilot who was thankfully, the sole occupant.  The best guess for a cause was that he was texting while flying.  “Hey, Bob, do clouds have lumps in them?  IMHO LMFAO LOL WTF?”  Splat!

The Region of Waterloo and the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo are proceeding with light-rail transit.  This was started a few years ago, when both the local and world economies were in much better shape.  Despite the economic down-turn, they are determined to forge ahead.

We will get our own tax money back from the Provincial and Federal governments to cover about two-thirds of the projected cost, and be responsible for the balance ourselves directly.  We are told that it will cost nine hundred thousand dollars, so the local taxpayers will have to pay three hundred grand, but what government project ever came in, even close to budget?  My bet is that it will run a billion and a quarter, and taxes will rise.

We were also told at the beginning, that this was to provide needed transportation upgrades, but independent studies have proved that to be a lie.  Politicians lying to us??!  I’m appalled!!  They have finally admitted that this is a scheme to improve the city cores.  Old stores have been converted to condos downtown.  We convinced two departments of the big community college to build near the city hall, and an old tannery building has been converted to high-tech offices, including a local Google branch.  All very nice, but it’s going to cost!

The city has been busy trying to expropriate bits of land for right-of-ways, and stations.  They wanted to hack the front off one property for road widening, and found that the city already owned the strip in question.  Further to the south, they took bits off several properties, until they came to one particular piece.  They only needed an inches-wide strip, just over a square yard off this narrow property.  Found, one un-claimed piece of land!  Lost, the legal owner!

A century ago, a business-man and his wife established and owned a well-known local soft-drink company.  At that time, it was way out past the edge of the city.  Now, of course, it’s well within city boundaries, and right where they want to run the street-railroad.  The plant is long since torn down and the property sold.  This narrow lot may have been part of the land their home sat on, but it was never sold.  The newspaper article says, “It doesn’t even have an address.  It sits between 530 and 534.”  Then, wouldn’t it be number 532?  What it doesn’t have, is a building with a visible number on it.

The plant was sold in 1944, and the newspaper says there has been no commercial activity for that location for 68 years, no sales, no purchases, no leases, no building permits.  Does anybody notice what I noticed?  No tax notices mailed, no taxes paid and nobody asking why not.  The longer it lasts, the deeper it gets buried.  Did no-one, in sixty-eight years, think to ask about it?

The only son and his wife are both long dead, and childless.  The city is asking the public’s help in locating any possible heirs.  The two adjoining properties don’t accrue ownership, but may have acquired easement rights.  Oh!  This one is going to be a long, complicated and expensive problem, all for a couple of inches off the front.  Why not just seize it for unpaid back taxes?

The city is receiving assistance from a local historian named rych mills.  That’s pronounced Rich and, like k. d. lang, he doesn’t capitalize his artsy name.  The paper has told us in previous articles where he was involved, that he doesn’t capitalize his name….and then they capitalize it in the articles.

The section of town where this property is, is our skid row, populated by hookers, drug dealers and users, three tattoo parlors and a methadone clinic.  I can understand the city hoping to improve it, but, will it just move the problem somewhere else?  Is anyone else old enough to have seen the Jack Lemmon movie, Days of Wine and Roses?  His girlfriend lives in a terrible New York tenement apartment, infested with cockroaches.  He bug-bombs the apartment, to drive them out, and almost gets attacked by the residents of neighboring apartments where he drives the bugs.