Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Hell With Air Mattresses!

I've had it. I'm through with inflatable air mattresses.

The tenth or eleventh air mattress I've bought in almost two years just sprung another leak. Ever since I threw out my bed bug-infested mattress, bed and headboard two springs ago, I've placed my faith in inflatable mattresses in the fear that if I bought a new conventional mattress would only become infested and promptly thrown away. Besides, buying all that laundry detergent and fabric softener to wash my entire wardrobe and ammonia to mop and scrub my home got rather expensive, making the purchase of even the cheapest conventional mattress even more of a pipe dream.

Air mattresses (especially the ones that are under $50) are basically camping equipment and only meant for occasional sleeping and not everyday use to be slept on day after day for weeks on end. And they're definitely not built to withstand a regular routine of vigorous sexual activity. Not to be terribly explicit, but M and I are both around 200 lbs. (she's gonna crucify me when she finds I out I blabbed about her weight!), we're in our 20s and we're horny and in love. I think what we do in that bed has probably led to the many, many sprung leaks which have appeared in the many air mattresses we've bought.

The air mattresses I've bought range from $20 to $45 and are either made by Greatland or Coleman, the latter being a much weaker brand of bed. I really don't have the money for an Aerobed or one of those fancy Eddie Bauer air mattresses and the widest variety is only available during the summer. During the winter, at least in New York, most stores don't sell air mattresses, and those that do barely sell any at all. Since August I think I've bought about five air mattresses, all of which have sprung leaks. These mattresses do come with patch-up kits, but even these don't hold for very long, and if they do hold another leak appears elsewhere. The mattresses are almost as much of a nuisance as the bed bugs themselves.

I finally broke down and decided to buy a conventional mattress on Sunday when M, after unsuccessfully trying to patch up a leak in our air mattress, declared that we've spent enough money on air mattresses to buy a conventional mattress. I couldn't agree more. So I went to Sleepy's yesterday and ordered a regular full-sized mattress for about $400. I cringed as the salesman kept pressuring me to lay down on the more expensive mattresses, afraid that a lone bed bug would somehow crawl out of my pants leg or something and onto the bed. And then he'd see it and make me pay like a million dollars for the bed. I cringed even more when he told me horror tales of buying mattresses from other retailers, who he claimed often pick up discarded mattresses from the curb, slap a new cover on them and then sell them as "new" mattresses. "Sometimes these discarded mattresses have bed bugs in them," he warned in his spookiest tone. "And then you bring them into your home!"

If only he knew, he wouldn't have even let me in the damn store.

Damn, I forgot how much money conventional mattresses sell for! Some of the more expensive ones (just the mattress, mind you. No frame or box spring) sold for $1,500 and even $2,500. I cut the salesman off in the middle of his pitch and told him I was looking to spend no more than $400 and he led me straight to the cheaper mattresses.

I really liked the inflatable mattresses, but I really need something that's going to last more than a month or two. I plan to cover and seal the mattress with a heavy plastic drop cloth, the kind painters use to protect the floor and furniture from dripping paint. Not to perpetuate stereotypes about Latinos and the tendency to work as day laborers, but in my apartment, we have a six-foot steel ladder, various work gloves, safety goggles, a tool belt and of course, a 100-foot roll of heavy plastic drop cloth. When my mother purchased a new mattress (her old one became infested with bed bugs) last August, we covered it with the plastic and closed it shut with duct tape. Obviously, there is a crinkling sound that comes from the mattress whenever someone climbs onto the bed but to me it is a small price to pay to sleep bed bug-free. And when you consider that a mattress these days can cost $400 and up, it makes sense to do whatever needs to be done in order to keep bed bugs out of it.

I sincerely recommend that anyone buying a new mattress do the same. The drop cloth is not that expensive, and is a rather smart investment considering how expensive mattresses can be.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Save Your Books

Been out of work for a few weeks, so I decided to take a break from the job hunt to do some cleaning up. I'm a writer and a reporter (although I haven't written for any real newspapers in about year) so I have a lot of news clips that I immediately put into plastic bags and stored in a large Tupperware-like plastic container to keep bed bugs from finding their way inside the papers. For those who haven't figured it out yet, bed bugs love paper. Newspaper, magazines and books make great hiding and nesting places for bed bugs.

Long story short, I was scanning my old news clippings onto my computer so I could still have the clips long after the original paper turns yellow and crumbles. I already have some clips from 2000 that are turning yellow. I think sealing them in plastic helps slow the degradation process but it doesn't stop it completely. As a writer, I am also a reader and I have a lot of books. Unfortunately, I ended up having to get rid of about half of my books when I discovered bed bugs inside them. This weekend, as I was scanning my old news clips, it occurred
to me that I should also store my books in plastic containers to keep any more from becoming infested.

So I went to the 99 cent store and bought several containers for the books. I made sure they were see-through so that I could see the spines of the books without opening the containers. I still have the books on the shelves, but they're in the containers now.

I figured I'd share this little tip for anyone who owns books, so that they won't have to toss half or all of their book collection in the trash. Sure, the containers may look a bit tacky on the bookshelves. But if they're worth saving, you won't hesitate to do the same.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


I could not make this up.

Occasionally I receive a comment from one of those automated comment spammer programs which makes a Google-like attempt to capture the essence of a particular post based on one or two words in it and then form a comment that offers a product or service related to my post (or what the software thinks is related to my post). Today I received a gut-busting laugh-out-loud comment from such spam software on a 2006 entry in which I complain about how the strange-looking bed bug bites on my arm are often mistaken for some sort of skin infection or herpes.

Got Herpes? Do not despair. You are not alone. 1 in 5 men and 1 in 4 women are living with herpes. Don't Let Genital Herpes Run or Ruin Your Life. Dating and relationship help for people with genital herpes now http://www.****************
Only a computer could do something this stupid.

I'll try to post again this weekend.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

On the Bright Side of Bed Bugs, Part 2

I found another reason to be happy to live with bedbugs. At least they're not the Chagas, a South American insect whose bites induce a parasitic infection which feeds on the host's heart muscle and intestines and kills 50,000 people every year. According to the Times Colonist in western Canada, the infection caused by a bite from a Chagas, also known as the "blood-sucking assassin" can also be transmitted from one human to another via blood transfusion. The symptoms take 10 to 20 years to develop and are usually fatal.

Did I also mention that they can fly?

So be happy that bed bugs is all you have, because there is a far greater menace out there that make bed bugs seem like Girl Scouts in comparison.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Bed Bug Sunday News Spread

Happy New Year, everyone!

I did a lot of drinking, dancing and eating for New Year's Eve and was too busy preparing for the festivities to read last Sunday's New York Daily News, despite the fact that I had bought it. I finally got a chance to go through it today and in it was a two-page spread about bed bugs in New York City. Obviously it's too late to buy the Sunday Daily News if you haven't already, but you can still read the online version of that story. The article includes two personal accounts from New Yorkers living with bed bugs, including that of Caitlin Heller, a fellow bed bug blogger who has been reading my blog since its inception two years ago. Caitlin is also the founder and moderator of the Yahoo! bed bug support group, Bedbugger. Here's a brief excerpt of her bed bug woes:

"I was getting 15 to 20 bites a night, and it was driving me crazy," said Heller, who runs Yahoo's Bedbug Support Group where sufferers commiserate. "I suffered mentally. I couldn't sleep at night, and I couldn't focus during the day because I had itchy, painful welts all over my body."

The article emphasizes the fact that New York City's poorest and wealthiest dwellings are equally vulnerable to bed bugs, listing recent breakouts of bed bug infestations in such locales as Ralph Lauren's design studio, the Thomas Jefferson Housing Projects, the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, and the Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft law firm.

Check it out; it's a pretty good read, and check out Bedbugger as well.