Sunday, June 29, 2008


A full week since my last post. The day job has been busy recently and I could not bring myself to do anything other then drink beer and sit in front of the television like a vegetable when I got home from the office every night.

Even this weekend was shite, our Director had the brilliant idea that I should attend three difference conference calls on Saturday and two on Sunday. So now the weekend is over and I don't even fell like I had one.

However I stumbed across a couple stories worthy of posting and I even went and checked my traffic reports. Not a single update in a week and I still averaged over 50 visitors a day.

So on to the unbelieveable stories...

A New York State man has been charged with felony assault and assault and battery after stabbing his mother with a fork and then attacking his neighbour with a frozen chicken.

A really interesting story from Scotland. A man who was sick of the noise coming from his downstairs neighbours decided to get his revenge. He rigged up a complicated system of timers connected to home applicances. While out of his apartment for the evening the plan was the timer would create an alternating sequence of one-minute bursts of noise from a vacuum cleaner, air compressor, radio, television and stereo. Unfortunately the timer malfunctioned and all 5 devices went off at once, creating a sound described by witnesses as "like a jet engine", which didn't just disturb his downstairs neighbour but every residence in the apartment block.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Victoria Writes:

I've owned my townhome since 2005. When we first moved in my female roommate always said hello to the older couple who lived next door. They always had their grandson over and at the time my dog was 6 months old and in the process of being we were outside quite a bit. Well, we share a plot of grass between our two driveways and the path way leading to the front of our home is shared with the elderly Polish neighbors. It all started here on this grass, which is owned by ALL residence.

I have my Masters in ESL, so I work with many foreign non-english speakers on a daily basis. In fact my own parents are also immigrants. So, I approached these neighbors with respect and always tried my best to be cordial. Well, at night even though a safe neighborhood, the dog always had to go out, sometimes 4-5am, and the easiest place to go was the grassy area outside our front walkway. In the beginning the grass was soooo dry, it began to die quickly and sometimes where the dog went to the bathroom it would leave a ring....well, even before anyone complained I called my association and asked them what I could do to fix the grass. They asked me to notify the landscapers and if it persisted, they would ask me to replant the grass. Fair enough. Literally the same day, my roommate was taking the dog out and she went to the bathroom on the grassy side closest to their driveway. The polish woman opened her door and just stared waving her finger at my roommate. She just waved and tried to go up to the door to say hello. The woman must have gotten nervous and shut the door. After this instance, she would peek through her blinds every time we were outside, whether it was front out back...she would always watch us. Her husband seemed quiet and not as paranoid.

Eventually if our cars arrived at the same time hers did, she'd stay in her car and wait for us to go inside....or if she was taking groceries in, she'd stop in the middle, lock her car, shut her trunk and go in until we were done. Then finally, one day I went through the garage and her whole family was sitting in the driveway with lawn chairs having a picnic. We do have our own patios..but whatever, well as I started to walk the dog she started to yell in polish at her family and pointing at me. So I walked up and asked, is there a problem. She started saying broken grass i no dog...over and over. So again I asked her can you explain to me again. And then her husband said take dog to the other yard....I said excuse me? She wanted me to go to the yard area next door. To which I replied, this is a common lot and pets are all over the neighborhood, we all share the grass. They said to me, no this is our side, stay on yours...well by now I was annoyed, so I called the association and asked them if I could get another letter to give to the polish people stating, I'm not doing anything wrong by taking my dog on public grass as long as I pick up her poop. They mailed me a copy which I gave to the neighbors the next week. I rang their doorbell and tried to explain to them the letter and just so they know there are many dogs in the neighborhood they were still not happy with the letter.

Well, I rented my house out for 2 year and now we're moved back in. I resolved this time to be cordial and try to be a better neighbor by saying hello and starting over. I'm married now so my husband lives here and I only said to him, when you see the neighbors always say hi no matter what. Well last week she ran after me after I brought the dog back to the grassy area. She's older and we have no problems with the grass being damaged. She followed me up our walk way which I said I don't understand, and she said you break grass again. I said we've been here 3 weeks, this is the first time that I've taken her out here, and she said no husband take out 11 times. Apparently her and her daughter have been counting and watching us. So she called her daughter who speaks better english to come over. And basically she said my mother has been upset about this and she just yelled at you because she's so angry. I said well, if she saw my husband out there, she can come out and explain in a civil manner. I mean she yells and she scowls. I told her daughter, we are respectful and we don't want to cause problems but yelling at us and peeking out of blinds does not help, it's annoying. She said well the other people were nice and this and that, I said we have been nice too, we've brought chocolates for Christmas previous years we've said hello etc...

Well, she's starting again. Yesterday we had a family BBQ, she was reading in her driveway when we pulled in. We started getting our grill ready out back and she came on her patio, and put her back towards us facing a wall. She sat outside the whole time we were out, when we went in so did she. I went to meet some new neighbors across the way, and the woman said that over the years my neighbors have built some enemies because they always spy and are paranoid. Tonight she watched me from her driveway with my dog down the block. I could see her peeking around the corner until I got in my own house. I have never detested someone sooo much. I've tried to talk to them and let them know, please if there is a problem come speak with us instead of hiding and yelling at us from afar....ugh, I had to get this off my chest. We enjoy living here, but seriously, I'm also disappointed these neighbors have to be like that....I would like to be friends, but if we can't do that, than I just want them to mind their own business!!!! My husband isn't as nice, he said if they say something to him, he'll say something back...but I try to be civil and explain....well I'm about done doing that. I finally said when we have a pet sitter again out of respect I will tell them to use other grassy areas, but I asked if they would refrain from spying or yelling. And if out sitters do happen to take the dog their they can let us know and we'd take care of it. So we shall see....

Friday, June 13, 2008


This is awesome! It could be the end of all noisy neighbour complaints forever. Imagine the end of banging on apartment walls. You could crank your stereo to 11 and not feel even the slightest bit guilty. The technology, which Scientists have dubbed an 'acoustic cloak' or a 'cloak of silence', is outlined in the latest issue of the New Journal of Physics.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


So the government introducted new copyright legislation today. If you are in the dark about the changes to Canadian copyright law here is a brief outline.

The Canadian government loves taxes. Always has. Quite some time ago they introducted a tax on all blank media. It used to be blank VHS and cassette tapes, then blank CD and DVD's, and eventually they extended it to include blank hard-drives and MP3 players.

This little tax on blank media had an unintended side-effect. Courts in Canada went and ruled that because consumers have paid this tax they possessed the right to copy any recording from the original copy even those they do not personally own. This right was extended to include P2P downloads, effectively making the downloading of pirated music legal in Canada. Uploading technically remained illegal but has not really been inforced.

The money raised by this tax was distributed to music publishers via some complicated formula that had nothing to do with the popularity of an artist and mostly to do with the whim of some idiot bureaucrat and the lobbying powers of various record labels or industry insiders.

Today the Conservative (business friendly and in love with all things American) government introduced new copyright legislation in Canada. I'm not going to get into the details around rights for educational uses, libraries, etc. because frankly they seem pretty well thought out and fair. (The publishing industry hates them so you know they are probably balanced)

The scary part of the law involves new technologies. The internet, personal digital music players, etc. The law contains provisions regarding breaking digital "locks" and fines for downloading pirated music or movies for personal use.

If music or movies you legally purchased contain no locks you are legally allowed to copy/transfer the content to any device you own. So you can buy a CD and copy it to your iPod (something technically illegal in many jurisdictions including the USA) without worry. You can purchase a movie and copy it to your computer or purchase a movie online and create a copy to watch on your DVD player. You can copy your old vinyl album to mp3 or to CD if you want.

What you can't do is copy the CD or movie to another device if it contains a digital lock. "Breaking" or circumventing this digital protection is a serious offence, and can carry huge fines, even if you are only doing it only for personal use. The creation or use of software that can be used to break these digital locks would be illegal.

So technically I could legally purchase a music CD at Wal-Mart, and if it is digitally locked, I am not allowed to put a copy of that music on my iPod, forcing me to carry around a bulky and very unsexy portable CD player circa 1995 if I want to enjoy my tunage. I have to buy the "digital" version as well. I have to pay twice for the same music.

This is the same as me purchasing a t-shirt and the designer of the shirt and government telling me I can only wear it on Saturdays. If I wear the shirt any other day of the week I can go to jail. Sounds stupid doesn't it? That is because it is.

I'm not an advocate of software or music or movie piracy (at least not on this blog and publicly), but if I legally purchase something I should be allowed to do whatever the hell I want with it. This includes copying it to my iPod, making a backup copy in case the original is damaged, loaning it to my friend, selling it on eBay, etc.

More information is available from the following sources:

Canadian Copyright Law from Wikipedia. Covers the basics, an introduction to the law.

Fair Copyright for Canada - Lobby group started by copyright lawyer and University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist. Start here if you want to fight the government and industry attempt to limit consumer rights and personal choice.

Canadian Music Creators Coalition - Industry group that opposes DMCA "locks and lawsuits" style copyright legislation. Members include Canadian artists such as Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlin, Broken Social Scene, Avril Lavigne, David Bidini (Rheostatics), Matthew Good, Metric, Raine Maida, Randy Bachman, Richie Hawtin (Plastikman), Sum41, etc. Basically anybody who actually creates and sells great Canadian music. Does not include the shite artists that are created by stupid television shows like Canadian Idol.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It has been a week since my last update. No excuse other then the job that pays the bills. We had a tornado sweep thru the area on Sunday which was a bit unusual as we don't really live in a "tornado prone" area. This isn't Kansas or anything. The family took refuge in the basement, there was lots of crying from the children, especially when the power went out. No damage to the house, a couple large branches snapped off the trees in my yard but none of them came down. A few large trees around town were down, only one across a road that I found (we did a tour in the car after things calmed down).

Only one thing I wanted to write about today, and it is hardly neighbour related. Folks everywhere but Canada will probably say "WTF?" and not understand what I'm talking about but here it goes. Big story in Canada this week is that the CBC lost the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song after 40-years. The network, which has been using the song as the theme for every hockey broadcast since 1967, had been in tense negotiations with the rights holder, some old lady named Delores Claman who was born in Canada but now lives in England. For the last few years the contract paid this old hag $500 every single time the CBC played the song, which was pretty big $ if you consider they probably broadcast 50+ games each season.

The story is that Claman wanted to sell the CBC the rights to the song for $2.5 million, the CBC didn't want to pay more then $1 million and so both sides walked away. Claman promptly sold the rights to the song to rival network CTV who plans on using the theme for the hockey games broadcast on TSN (a Canadian all-sports cable network similar to ESPN).

I don't envy the CBC, who is now being roasted by the press and public. If they had spent $2.5 million they would be getting roasted for "wasting taxpayers money". It was really a no-win situation.

The problem now is that the CBC has announced a contest to have somebody compose a new theme song. The prize is $100,000 and obviously the CBC then owns the song permanently, avoiding any such royalty/licensing conflict in the future. The problem is the winning song will most definately be 100% crap and suck supreme because the idiots who decide the winner are neither hockey fans and will need to pick some bland and sugar-coated boring crap that is guaranteed to not offend anybody.

Enter, 'The Hockey Song', the 1973 classic by Canadian icon Stompin' Tom Connors. Connors has made it very public that he is more then interested in licensing the song to the CBC for use on their broadcasts. The CBC needs to jump on this. The song is a classic, it is already played at nearly every game at nearly every arena in N. America, and it is known by hockey fans everywhere. They can replace a classic with a classic, and nobody would miss the old theme music for even a minute.

Please take the time to write the CBC and ask them to enter negotiations with Stompin' Tom.

Hello out there! We're on the air,
It's Hockey Night tonight;
Tension grows, the whistle blows,
And the puck goes down the ice.
The goalie jumps, and the players bump,
And the fans all go insane;
Someone roars, "Bobby scores!"
At the good old hockey game.

Oh! The good old hockey game,
Is the best game you can name;
And the best game you can name,
Is the good old Hockey game!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


My house sits on a corner lot and I love it. I think one of the biggest benefits of living on a corner lot is usually just plain size. There are plenty of drawbacks obviously. If you live somewhere it snows you have at least twice as much shovelling. Mowing can also be a chore, at least for me. My lot is too small to justify a riding mower but large enough that I find myself prosrastinating whenever possible. Traffic noise can be a concern no matter where you live, but a corner lot can double the noise. You also have to consider the safety of playing children. Ideally at least one of the streets (if not both) are quiet and traffic is not a concern. One of my pet peeves are dog walkers who don't pick up after their pet, and having a corner lot effectively doubles the available area where this nasty business could occur. Since I have a dog myself I don't mind that much. Picking up the occassional mess from my side and front lot just becomes part of the regular cleanup that comes with owning a dog.

For some folks the biggest issue that comes from living on a corner lot is that folks will cut across your lawn in order to save themselves a few steps. This has never been a problem for me, mostly due to some strategically placed trees and a kidney shaped area of perennials that work together to create both a physical and psychological barrier that keeps people on the sidewalk. Not so for a resident of Annavile, Texas who was so sick of people cutting across his corner lot that he strung up 20' of barbed wire.

Last weekend was our bi-weekly poker night, and the weather was nice enough that we held the game outside. We setup a TV outside on my neighbours back deck and tuned into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. We probably made a bit of noise, but nothing serious. At least nothing that would result in an angry neighbour wielding an axe.