Thursday, July 31, 2008


São João Novo, Portugal - A man has been jailed for 5 and 1/2 years for shooting his neighbour. That headline alone wouldn't mean much. Unfortunately it happens all the time. What makes this one special is the neighbour who did the shooting believed his neighbour had sodomized his pet cat, and by doing so had turned the cat into a homosexual.

Laureldale, Pennsylvania - A man angered by the sound of a lawnmower pulled out a shotgun and threatened his neighbour. The weapon wasn't loaded, but that didn't seem to matter to the police who were called by other concerned residents. I could understand if it was 6am on a Saturday morning after a night of heavy drinking, but this occurred at around 7:45pm on a weeknight. I guess the sound was disturbing his enjoyment of America's Got Talent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Barrie, Ontario - My old drinking buddy, former college roommate, and Barrie City Councillor, Rod Jackson, is leading a campaign to bring a 1.5 Megawatt wind turbine to the city of Barrie. The plan is to build the turbine on the site of his father's Toyota dealership, Jackson Toyota. Rod has started a Facebook group "Support Barrie's First Wind Turbine" where you can find out all the details and join in the discussions (both pro and con).

For those not on Facebook, you can send email to There is also an online petition to Barrie City Council in support of wind power.


Galway, Ireland - A pregnant neighbour with a history of depression, drug and alcohol abuse asks you to take care of her dog. You sell the dog for $135. She stabs you in the chest and you die. She goes to jail for 9 years. Need I say more?

New Dehli, India - You own a goat and don't want to keep it tied up in your own yard. The logical thing to do would be to tie it up in your neighbours yard. When they object you ignore them. So don't be suprised when they beat you to death.

Brighton, U.K. - A wanna be karaoke singer was fined $5000 when finally being taken to court over noise complaints related to her continuous singing of the 1980's Whitney Houston hit "I Will Always Love You". Next stop is The Hague where she will be tried alongside Radovan Karadzic for crimes against humanity.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


A bit of a follow-up on my last post about pesticides. There are plenty of folks (including myself) who have backyard vegetable gardens. Not many who have converted their front yard.

I stumbled upon this story from the Windsor Star, where a guy has replaced his entire front lawn with a vegetable garden. A series of raised beds containing tomatoes, beets, peas, beans, lettuce, etc. has taken over the front yard of his average suburban home.

The enactment of local and state/provincial pesticide bans has lots of folks converting from your standard turf grass lawn to perennial bedding plants, native species of tall grasses and wildflowers, etc. This is the first time I've heard of someone converting their entire front yard to a vegetable garden.

I've heard many stories of things like this causing plenty of neighbour tension. Especially in more upscale neighbourhoods where the esthetic is often "environment be damned". That being said, I think the general public mood towards environmental causes has shifted quite a bit over the past 10 years. There are, however, still issues to seriously consider. Native grasses grow much higher then turf grass and along a boulevard or near a driveway can create blind spots where a child playing or riding a bike could be seriously injured or killed.

I am all for the promotion of native species, low-maintenance and drought resistant plants in order to protect the environment. I think it is important to recognize however that letting your backyard (or frontyard) go to hell and then claiming it is "for the environment" is weak. Weeds are weeds so don't hop on the green bandwagon just because you are lazy and can't be bothered to get outside on weekends.

I personally have seriously considered taking my side lot and turning it into a large vegetable garden. Our current garden is just a small raised bed, about 6' x 2'. Large enough for a few tomato plants, and some cucumbers and peppers. Last year we tried lettuce but didn't eat it soon enough and it went to seed. I live on a 1/2 acre lot, so I could easily have quite a large garden along the one side. I would even consider planting a couple rows of sweet corn.


One of the new battlegrounds shaping up between neighbours is going to be regarding the use of lawn and garden pesticides. I will admit to not exactly having an '100% organic' lawn, but I am not exactly chemical dependant either.

I fertilize in the spring with Scott's Turf Builder Pro with Weed Control. This single application keeps my lawn dandelion free for the season. I hit the lawn at one point during late spring or early summer with Scott's Killex, mostly just to spot treat any crabcrass or broadleaf weed outbreaks. Then in the fall I use a single treatment of Scott's Wintercare.

I use some MiracleGro on my annuals located in flower boxes on the front porch but that really sums it up. None of these products I use on my backyard, only the front and side. The back garden is fenced in and with a big stinky dog, two crazy kids, a swing set, a patio, a sandbox, and a kiddie pool... you get the picture.

Since the backyard is also the location of our fresh herb garden and vegetable garden (limited this year to about 6 varieties of heirloom tomatoes we ordered from Vesey's) I don't use any products of any kind.

So I would think I am pretty typical when it comes to lawn and garden pesticide use. My lawn is no golf course but at the same time is healthy and mostly weed free. It smells like a lawn, not like the lawns you sometimes walk past that smell more like the chemical aisle at the Home Depot. It is by no means uniform in thickness, colour, etc., but it feels good under your bare feet and that to me is pretty much the most important thing.

I have a neighbour who has taken Eco Living to new heights. A huge renovation of his 1950's era ranch have been recently completed and frankly the house is gorgeous. I could probably devote an entire post to his home but lets just say he has the latest in high tech everything and the house can now be run year-round on total utility costs of roughly $100/month. This includes winter heating and summer cooling costs. It is a pretty amazing house.

This neighbour decided to get rid of his lawn and plant White Dutch Clover. He raved about this for weeks. About how from a distance it will look just like a lawn. How it will never need to be cut. How it will always be green with little to no watering. So he hired contractors who came and scraped off the existing turf. Then they added a layer of top soil and hydro-sprayed the clover. Then he forgot to water...

Once established the clover doesn't really need water, but as anybody who has seeded a lawn knows, the first couple weeks are critical. Those seeds cannot dry out and need to be watered daily.

So nothing grew... except of course weeds. Now of course a single treatment of Killex would have been fine but my neighbour was insistant on being 'green' so he was out there every day for weeks hand spraying agricultural vinegar on the weeds. Now I read up on this stuff, and with a warning that read "keep away from children, wear gloves. eye protection, and a respirator" I have a funny feeling that Killex is probably safer. One thing I've learned about the 'Green Revolution' is that perception is more important then reality.

After two weeks of daily vinegar treatments the weeds were held at bay, so a fresh layer of topsoil was delivered last week, and I believe re-seeding will be attempted again soon. I wish him the best.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I've been offline for a week because Bell sucks. Let me explain. Bell Canada is the Telco where I live. They have some competition but in the end its always Bell. Sure you can get highspeed DSL from other providers but in the end they are just buying wholesale from Bell. Same thing goes for local phone or long distance service.

I used to have an Bell highspeed plan that was billed as "up to" 1.5Mbps download speed and unlimited bandwidth. This plan cost be roughly $60/month after taxes. Then about a year ago I downgraded in an attempt to save money. The lowest priced DSL plan Bell offered was a 512kbps download with 2GB in bandwidth, with of course extra charges for bandwidth above 2GB but capped at a max of $30 extra per month.

So my plan to downgrade left me with a service 1/3 as fast as my previous plan, and after paying the additional bandwidth charges (which I always maxed out despite my attempts to limit my downloading habits) I was paying $25/month plus $30/month in bandwidth charges for a total of $55/month. Saving myself a big fat $5/month.

So I tried to upgrade, but Bell no longer offered the "up to 1.5Mbps unlimited" plan. Now the next available upgrade is a "up to 5Mbps with 60GB bandwidth" plan for $60/month. Except they tell me this plan is not available in my area.

So I was stuck on this stupid 512k plan. Now I understand how DSL works, and I understand the speed is not guaranteed. I also understood that they could very easiliy of signed me up for the "up to 5Mbps" plan and I would be able to get around 1.5Mbps (because I got that speed before). However Bell would not budge.

So I switched to TekSavvy, a smaller ISP that in the end buys the DSL wholesale from Bell and resells it. They sold me an "up to 5Mbps" plan with unlimited bandwidth for $39.95/month.

Everything went smooth, service is great, speed is what I expected (around 1.5Mbps download and 512k upload when I check via SpeedTest.Net.

Then Bell went and pulled the line card for no reason whatsoever and I was without service for 3 days. Teksavvy was great, but they were at the mercy of Bell, who never really provided an explanation as to why they disabled my DSL.

Strange thing is they phoned me the day before this happened and asked why I had switched. I told the lady the same story I just relayed above, and she offered to sign me up for the very plan I had been previously told was not available in my area.

This really doesn't have anything to do with neighbours, but it pissed me off.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Berkshire, USA - File this one under 'Lassie'. Sarah Lee Guthrie was driving down the dirt road to her home when her neighbours dog came chasing after her car and barking. The dogs unusual behaviour prompted Sarah to stop. Upon glancing around she noticed her neighbour lying on the ground among some tall grass and in obvious distress. Apparently he had falled off and then been run over by his tractor. Benny (the dog) and Sarah are being given the hero treatment, and the neighbour Gene Burnell, is recovering from his injuries in the Albany Medical Center.

Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada - A man has been found guilty of break and enter after he led his drunken party guests in a robbery of his neighbours apartment, stealing 20 pairs of workboots. Sandy Brown, a first time offender, is ordered to pay damages and is sentenced to 12 months probation. The question I have is why did his neighbour have 20 pairs of brand new workboots in his apartment?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Despite living in a small town there is never a shortage of interesting things to do around here, especially during the summer months.

Two weeks ago was the 33rd Annual 'Threshing Festival', which while paying tribute to the agricultural history of the area is really just a big excuse for a piss-up. I'll never forget when we first moved to town, it was only a few weeks before the festival that year and I remember someone trying to convince me to go to the beer garden with the argument "No matter how drunk you get they never cut you off". I'll give you more details about this event in a separate post.

Another fun summer activity is heading into Dresden, which is about 15 minutes away, to spend a Saturday afternoon at the track. When I was younger I would stick to the slot machines and stay away from the horses. I probably was trying to convince myself that horse racing was for old men or something, but in truth I was most likely just scared and unsure about strategy, placing bets, etc.

That all changed one afternoon after placing a $6 bet. It was one of the first times I had bet on horses and I almost hit the Trifecta (correctly guessing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place horse). I correctly guessed #2 and #3. I don't remember how much money I won, it was not very much, but the adrenaline rush of excitement I had when those horses came thundering around the final turn was WAY better then the flashing lights and ringing bells of a slot machine.

The Dresden area is no newcomer to the world of harness racing, with the first organized races run in 1889 under the banner of The Dresden Driving Club. Horseracing has come a long way since the days when my Grandfather hung out at the track. In those days it was almost a private men's club. These days horse racing, and especially harness racing is being rebranded as a hip and happening sport for both the young and young at heart.

Part of this re-branding can be seen in the new GETSULKY website that is being promoted by the Ontario Harness Horse Association. The site even features a cool little flash animation harness racing game, hopefully to get you over the fear of placing that first bet.

Internet gambing is a huge industry and I'll admit to playing a little poker online every now and then. The problem of course is that no matter what, you are still sitting on your ass indoors. Our Canadian summers are short enough as it is, so why not get outside and get some sun and fresh air as part of your entertainment dollar?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Today is July 1st, known as 'Canada Day' around here. Technically we celebrate the anniversary of Confederation, July 1st 1867 when the three British Colonies of Britsh Columbia, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada joined together to create a nation.

Some historians argue this event occurred mostly because the American Civil War had recently ended and American armies were turning their sights North. The creation of an organized state out of several separate British Colonies was a good way to secure British control over land north of the 49th parallel. The rush to build a railway across the vast Canadian prairie from Ontario to British Columbia was seen as another important means of security British sovereignty.

Regardless, Canadians celebrate Canada Day pretty much the same way Americans celebrate July 4th. Family, Alcohol & Fireworks.

Which brings me to todays news. A recent survey on both sides of the border came to some suprising results. It could be the impact of 8 years of George W. Bush, or it could be something else, but here are the results:

  • Canadians overall are "happier" then Americans
  • Canadians live longer
  • Canadians have fewer diseases
  • Canadians are more adventurous in bed
  • Canadians drink more
  • Canadians take more vacations
  • Canadians spend more time with family
  • Canadians have their debt more under control
  • Average Canadians are 30% wealthier then your average American
How you like them apples?