Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Scottsdale, Arizona - File Under: It may be a gated community, but that doesn't make it any better then a trailer park. An argument over birdseed, which started with handfuls and escalated to the point that an entire garbage pail was dumped into a pool, has resulted in felony charges, 30 months in jail and a fine of $500,000 for a 67-year old woman who ended the dispute by shooting her neighbour in the groin with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Erba, Italy - File Under: Think about this story next time you play your music loud. The trial of a middle aged couple accused of 4 counts of murder in Italy is being dubbed a case of "neighbour rage". The pair claim that an endless barrage of noise from the neighbouring apartment drove them to the brink of insanity. They stabbed their 4 neighbours (including a 2 year old boy) to death and then burned their house to the ground.

Valley Springs, California - File Under: Thats not the kind of help I need. You may want to reconsider sharing details of your financial situation with your neighbours. When a resident of Valley Springs confided to his neighbour that he was in dire staights the man decided to take things into his own hands... by burning down his neighbours house... and then demanding a cut of the insurance money.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The old saying is "Good Fences Make Good Neighbours". If you are considering building a fence in order to enjoy the privacy they provide you should strongly consider building a 'Natural Fence'. A natural fence can provide many of the benefits of your more traditional fencing styles, provided you are willing to spend the extra time and effort necessary to keep your natural fence healthy and strong. Watering, fertilizing, and trimming a large natural fence can be a considerable expense, but one that can be well worth the effort, especially in this era of increased environmental sensibility. Eco considerations aside, no matter how well crafted your traditional wooden fence is, it will pale in comparison to the beauty of a well-maintained natural fence.

A natural fence can also provide some significant benefits that may not be immediately apparent. For starters, a natural fence can be a great way to get around local bylaws regarding the height of a fence. Many municipalities have specific laws regarding the height of fences which are usually limited to something close to 6 feet. Something as simple as a raised back deck on your neighbours lot can result in a complete lack of privacy in your own back yard. These bylaws can sometimes be effectively neutralized by building a natural fence from a plant variety that upon full maturity can greatly exceed the maximum heights allowed for a traditional fence.

Traditional fences may provide a degree of privacy but lack any real ability to limit noise from your neighbours yard or a nearby roadway. A thick natural fence is far better at noise and even wind reduction. Consider that noise is often the #1 cause of neighbourhood conflic. It only makes sense to consider planting a natural fence in your yard.

One common concern is the length of time it may take for a natural fence to reach maturity. A traditional fence provides almost immediate privacy, while a natural fence can take many seasons to be an effective barrier. This does not have to be the case provided you choose the right varieties. There are a number of plant varieties that grow very quickly, in some cases as much as 3-4 feet in a single season. Another common concern is hardiness, especially in cold or dought-prone climates. Once again, some careful consideration when choosing the composition of your natural fence can overcome these challenges.

There are a number of plants you can consider when planning your natural fence and I encourage you to discuss your intentions in depth with an employee at your local nursery in order to guarantee success. Soil conditions, drainage, sun/shade, and zone are all going to be involved in your natural fence choices and it is important that none of these factors are overlooked. I'm going to discuss two of my personal favourites here, both are quite hardy and can thrive anywhere in the United States and in most of Canada.

Leyland Cypress - It is claimed the Leyland Cypress was a "genetic accident" that originated in Wales, when two separate Cypress species (Nooka and Monterey) were cross pollinated. The Leyland Cypress can thrive in zones 6-10, which makes it suitable for planting pretty much anywhere in the continental United States and many parts of Canada. You can confirm your local zone by checking out these maps of Canada and the USA. What makes the Leyland Cypress such a great building block for a natural fence is the incredible growth rate and immense mature height. The Leyland will grow 3-4 feet per season and can reach a maximum height well over 50 feet if not pruned. Since the Leyland is an evergreen it provides year round color to your garden. The Leyland is also very thick and bushy, making a series of mature Leylands more of a barrier then a fence. A word of warning, failure to prune a Leyland during the early stages will result in an out of control plant, and as much as you want privacy, I'm sure most folks don't want a 100 foot high wall of green (well perhaps you do) and this is a real possibility. There have been more then a few examples of out of control Leylands being the center of neighbourhood tension, including instances where Leylands are planted out of spite and allowed to grow out of control. Some other great alternatives to the Leyland include the Arizona Cypress and Japanese Cedar, neither being as fast growing or able to reach the heights of a mature Leyland.

Bamboo - There are dozens of varieties of Bamboo but I'm going to focus in specifically on a few that are cold hardy and thus can survive in even some of the coldest climates. Macon Rivercane is a bamboo that is native to North America and can survive winter temperatures as cold as -32 celcius. It is characterized by very tight branches which makes it a great choice for a natural fence. Bashania is not as cold tolerant, but still able to withstand winters as cold as -26 celcius, making it suitable for much of the USA and Southern Ontario or British Columbia. If you are considering a bamboo fence and live where it snows you should investigate cold-hardy varieties including Chusquea, Fargesia and Hibanobambusa.

If you decide to build a natural fence I can't recommend enough the importance of making friends with folks at your local independent nursery. While their prices may be higher then big box stores you will be able to ask questions and get advice from trained experts instead of high-school kids making minimum wage.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Cumberland County, Tennessee - A dispute between two neighbours regarding a dog got out of control when one of them pulled out a shotgun. A witness disarmed the man before he had a chance to blow a hole in his neighbours chest. Undaunted he picked up a chainsaw and began chasing his neighbour around the yard. The man escaped by jumping in his pickup truck and driving away. Shotguns, a dog, and a pickup truck. This story has all the makings of a great country song. Or it could be just another day in Tennessee? You decide. Original story appears in the Crossville Chronicle.

Bottomley, West Yorks, U.K. - A resident of the rural community of Bottomley has been fined close to $400,000 USD after being charged for a "rampaging campaign of hatred and pure evil" that involved loud music, spotlights, damage to cars, the depositing of dead animals on her neighbours property, and broken glass scattered on roads and pathways. Her antics have earned her the nickname the "Beast of Bottomley" (Sounds like a monster from a Tolkein book) and despite evidence coming to light that she had confrontations with neighbours at her previous address she still claims to be the real victim. The accused has also been charged with two separate "Anti Social Behavior Orders" which from what I can tell is combination of a public shaming and a slap on the wrist that is a quirky little aspect of the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom. More details on the latest judgement are available from the BBC.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Denizens of many suburban neighbourhoods like to create their own artificial reality. Neighbourhood bylaws against certain house colors and designs are the norm in many of these so-called 'planned' communities. Many people who live in drought stricken areas of the country are still unable to plant ecologically sensitive groundcover or wildflowers instead of your typical golf-green and pesticide enriched lawn.

One common neighbourhood, and in some cases municipal bylaw involves a ban on outdoor clothes drying. Proponents of these rules maintain that such clotheslines are unsightly, or that they look "cheap" and thus lower property values. For the most part I would think those who feel this way are just elitist snobs but that is just my opinion. Several years ago during the height of California's energy shortage, the Dooonesbury comic strip incorporated the debate into a storyline.

Today the government of Ontario announced thier intention to bring forward a long overdue piece of legislation that would provide owners of all freestanding detached homes, semi-detached, and rowhouses the right to dry clothes outdoors on a line. This law would effectively overide any existing municipal or neighbourhood bylaws. Hopefully other Provinces and even jurisdictions in the USA can work on enacting similar legislation.

I've been a big fan out line drying clothes for a long time (and was prevented by doing so at my house in Kitchener due to a neighbourhood bylaw). Since moving out to a small rural community I try to do it whenever the weather permits but I'll admit I don't dry underwear on the line. I know that may seem kind of silly, I guess I'm just shy.

Some handy tips for drying clothes on the line:

1. Use a liquid fabric softener in the wash. This will help make the clothes feel no different when you put them on after line drying then if you used that energy hog in your laundry room.

2. Hang shirts from the tail (fold over the bottom 2-3 inches) to avoid little marks at the shoulders that you would have to spend time ironing out before wearing.

3. Fold sheets in half and then hang with just a few inches over the line where you pin. This will reduce wrinkles.

4. Towels should be folded over the line at about the 1/3 point (1/3 on one side of the line, 2/3 on the other and pinned across the top).

5. Hang delicate items on clothes hangers and then attach the hanger to the line. This is especially useful for knitted items that you want to hold their shape.

One final tip: After line drying you can always just give your clothes 5 minutes in the energy hog. This works great if you forgot fabric softener or if heavy items like jeans and towels are still a bit damp in places. It also can reduce wrinkles and saves you time by avoiding the iron.

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Friday, January 18, 2008


Loud parties may be an inconvenience but just thank the lord above that you don't live anywhere near Ronnie A. Ballard. The turd pictured at left was arrested and charged with defacating inside unattended washing machines and shoes left in the hallways of his apartment building. Ronnie is currently in jail on $1400 bail and has been ordered by the court to "only defecate in toilets". Can you imagine how the Judge felt when he was writing that one out?

Seeing this story reminded me of my old neighbour in Toronto who used to encourage his children to urinate in their backyard instead of using the indoor plumbing. I guess he was trying to save on his water bill or something.

Which leads me to a task I performed today. Earlier this week it was above freezing and all the snow has melted. Then came two solid days of below zero temperatures, which made today the perfect day to clear my yard of dog poop. During the summer I try to clean up after my dog almost immediately, but during the winter I get lazy. Most of the time I just open the back door, let the old guy out, and then let him back in the house when he barks.

So today was the day and I cleaned up two months worth of dog shit from my backyard. I literally filled a plastic grocery bag to overflowing. When I was done my hands were half-frozen and I think I had frostbite but this is the best weather for picking up dog shit. No smell, easy to handle, and nothing gets left behind.

Believe it or not I stumbled across a product that allows you to get this winter convenience any time of the year. This could be one of the greatest possible inventions for a dog owner. "Poop Freeze" is an aerosol based instant freeze spray. One quick shot with this and your dog's poop is frozen solid and ready for easy pick-up and disposal.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Ever have a neighbour throw a crazy party? Just be happy you don't live next to Australia's Most Famous Party-Boy Corey Worthington. Corey was originally just planning on having "a few mates" over one night when is parents were out of town. Then he had the bright idea of posting the party on his MySpace page. Next thing you know 500 people show up at his house, and the party spills out into the yard and down the street. When angry neighbours phoned the cops things just got worse as the crowd of drunk teenagers went on a destructive rampage that had the police in full retreat... until they called in helicopter gunships and attack dogs.

Corey has managed to turn himself into a minor celebrity and while does claim to be sorry for throwing a party that got out of hand he is pretty insistent that you can't blame him for the actions of others (vandalism, fighting with the cops, etc.). What is really pissing off the old and boring is his attitude about the whole thing... you would think he is a teenager or something.

Corey did a few interviews and this bimbo reporter gets so upset that Corey is apparently not being sincere enough for her. Who would of thought that a teenager could be insincere? These people must all be living on another planet or something.

Funny Kid Isnt Sorry About Huge Party - Watch more free videos

First we heard that the cops were going to fine him $20,000 but it begs the question, why didn't the cops arrest those who were engaged in the vandalism when it was occurring? Just how pathetic and useless are Australian cops anyway?

Instead of a radio call that there were "500 teenagers having a party" perhaps they should have been told that illegal immigrants or anti-war protesters were running loose. Cops never seem to have trouble arresting large crowds of people who are actually protesting against something that could undermine the authority of our corporate masters.

Now today we find out the cops have decided to charge Corey with 'production of child pornography' because he was taking photos of some of the teenage girls at the party playing naked twister. This is just stupid. Child pornography is a serious crime, and charging Corey Worthington with this based on what occurred at his party does a disservice to the thousands of innocent children who are victimized by it every year. This only proves how stupid and out to lunch the Australian police are.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I've stumbled across a video game franchise entitled Neighbours From Hell and Neighbours From Hell 2 - On Vacation which is put out by JoWood Games and available for XBOX, GameCube, and PC. It is by no means new and was released about 3 years ago, but still might be worth a laugh, especially if you can find it in the bargain bin or your favourite P2P network.

FYI... The Stupid Neighbour Blog does not condone or support software piracy. If you download via P2P and enjoy the game I strongly encourage you to purchase or at the very least donate to the publisher. I remember many years ago when Bam Margera was starting to become a bit of a celebrity with his Camp Kill Yourself videos (the inspiration for MTV's Jackass). A friend of mine had downloaded them and enjoyed them so much that he wanted to support Bam but didn't feel like going out and actually buying the videos since he already had the downloaded copy. So he just mailed $20 to Bam's home address along with a 'Thank You' note.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Dan writes:

I've got a neighbor who lives down the street who drives a piece of crap Tercel. He installed a stereo system that must be worth thousands of dollars and takes up the entire back seat and the trunk. I always know when he is coming home or going out somewhere because I can hear the car from several blocks away. He must be totally deaf by now with the music so loud all the time.

Ca1v1n replies:

I can relate. There is somebody who lives down the street from me who drives a pickup truck that I can hear coming from a mile away. He also has a tendency to fail to stop at the corner right in front of my house, and when it is late at night he is especially fond of throwing in a little tire squeal just to let us know how cool he is.

One thing that makes me smile to myself... a reflection on how things change but stay the same...

When I was a kid, when some 20-something idiot wanted everyone to think they were 'cool' they drove a souped up Trans-Am and blasted heavy metal out the windows. Now they drive souped up 4-banger rice burners blasting house music out the windows.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm not sure why but many of the folks who read Stupid Neighbour seem to be from the U.K. An organization called the Citizens Advice Bureau has created this excellent online resource for resolving neighbour disputes. It has plenty of common-sense infused wisdom that could help anybody, but for those who live in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales there is lots of very specific contact information for various local organizations and resources.

Friday, January 11, 2008



There is not much worse then living near a pig farm. You have to experience the smell first hand, as no words can properly describe the foul stench to which you are exposed. Now imagine that the pig farm next door is owned by Robert Picton. More then a simple pig farmer, he is Canada's most prolific serial killer, accused of murdering 27 people. Estimates are that Picton is actually responsible for at least 50 murders. Picton operated a large pig farm near the city of Vancouver and police allege he disposed of the bodies by feeding them to his pigs. All of Picton's victims were heroin-addicted prostitutes so technically as a next door neighbour you wouldn't have much to fear (unless you were a heroin-addicted prostitute), which is why Picton only makes #10 on this list. Picton is currently in jail and has been found guilty of six charges of 2nd degree murder, which will keep him behind bars a minimum of 25 years without parole. Due to his age and failing health there is little chance he will ever be released from prison other then for his funeral.


Where do we start? At one time or another this neighbour will steal everything you own. He will cause your business to fail. He will be partially responsible for the death of your wife. He will teach your children to swear, mock your faith at every opportunity, scratch himself in front of your guests, and reject every overture of kindness and generosity you send his way. When the world is ending he will even kick you out of your own bomb shelter. His children will be encouraged to hate you and will bully your children. He'll stuff a hornets nest into your mailbox and for an encore his irresponsible actions will have your entire community doomed to be eternally sealed inside an impenetrable dome. Then at the last minute, when you have given up all hope and lost all your sanity, he will redeem himself by saving the day, restoring your faith in both god and people, by coming to the aid of the innocent in their time of need. Despite this game saving performance in the bottom of the 9th inning I would still rather not deal with a neighbour like Homer in the first place.


Living next door to Britney Spears would be its own special form of hell. You get the endless stream of paparazzi and their flashbulbs going off at all hours. You can enjoy screams of pain when someones foot is run over as part of her daily parallel parking lessons. The traffic and chaos as another promotion seeking celebrity shows up offering to 'help'. The nightly crying and whining of a neglected child, not to mention the noise her children must make. In fact the only positive thing I can come up with when thinking about living next door to Britney Spears is that Keven Federline no longer lives there so you would at least be able to avoid hearing him sing.


One minute you are crawling around in your bushes weeding your garden or picking vegetables and the next thing you know somebody has shot you in the face. Good luck with any home improvement projects you have planned. One day you casually mention to Dick that you need a new roof, the next day there is somehow a signed no-bid contract with Haliburton nailed to your front door and you owe him $8,000,000,000. Then he will turn around and tell you to invade your other neighbours house so you can steal his roof. Plus you have to deal with all his unsavory friends and business associates that are lurking around your house, especially the retarded kid wearing a cowboy hat who is always staring at you thru your bedroom window while picking his nose and asking if you know his daddy.


Shopping at a Wal-Mart is bad enough so can you even imagine having to live next door to one? To hell with the convenience, what about the glare of the parking lot lights in your bedroom window? The endless stream of delivery trucks backing into the loading docks. The teenage employees hiding behind your fence smoking weed or swapping spit during their breaks. Even worse they are now open 24-hours a day and encouraging people to use the parking lot as an RV campground. You couldn't even have fun people watching, unless you enjoy watching poor, fat, overweight people.


Living next to this santimonious religious nutbar pedophile would be a real treat and put a whole new meaning to the term "lock up your daughters". You would have one of his brain-dead followers knocking on your door every day telling you they held the only true path to your salvation. Plus when they ask if you want to buy any cookies the parents would push their 8-year old daughter in front of you and introduce her as 'Cookie'. Be warned that when your 50-year old neighbour asks how your wifes pregnancy is coming along and what her due date is he isn't being friendly, he is planning his wedding day.


Your neighbours are crawling over or under your fence and sneaking into your home every time you turn your back, and sometimes even when you don't. You go to work one day to find out they took your job, so you manage to find another job and go to work one day to find out they took the whole factory and moved it into their yard. Half of your TV channels are suddenly speaking a language you don't understand, your politicans are pandering to them in order to get their vote, there are hundreds of thousands of 'visitors' in your home, and you still can't find a decent burrito anywhere.

Your looking for some form of rational dialog to address the issues but instead you get nothing but extemists on both sides. The government buries its head in the sand and the only protection you are getting from the tide of illegals coming over the fence every day is a gang of redneck facists who suddenly show up and march back and forth like the SS guards at Buchenwald while comparing bald eagle tattoos, drinking Busch Lite, and ranting about NASCAR. You are encouraged to go on vacation in their yard, lured by affordable prices and a tropical climate, but once there you end up getting robbed, raped, and possibly murdered. Then when you complain they just shake you down and accuse you of attempting to buy drugs and that you deserved whatever happened.


The worst thing about living next to Osama would have to be that you are probably living in a cave somewhere in the mountains of Pakistan. Instead of a cup of sugar he is always coming over to borrow your video camera or a roll of toilet paper. Can you even refuse if he asks to use your phone? He definately doesn't even have his own calling card. You would be always worried he would judge you not worthy in the eyes of his god, so you have to make public displays of piety a daily occurrance. Finally you are living in constant fear that when the US military finally finds his hiding place they are going to bomb the whole neighbourhood from orbit instead of sending in a commando team who may at least attempt to minimize civilian casualties. Good luck getting back your power tools when he mysteriously disappears in the middle of the night.


This wonderful corner of the world won the dubious honor of being #1 on the "Worlds Worst Polluted Places" for 2007 by The Blacksmith Institute. This home of over 40 Soviet-era factories was the industrial center for the manufacturing of pesticides, chlorine, detergents, and plenty of other noxious garbage. Today it is a cesspool of untreated sewage, mercury contamination, and some of the highest rates of cancer and birth defects anywhere in the world. And if you think that is bad, most of the factories have closed, so you can't even get a decent job in this town.


Seriously, can you even imagine a worse neighbour? Not only can the Death Star blow up your house, but it can blow up your whole planet when you forget to return that 30' ladder or fail to pledge allegiance to the Emperor. Even worse, if you move it can follow you anywhere in the galaxy. Don't even get me started about the parking problems you would experience when the entire Imperial fleet shows up for some big meeting. To make matters worse you've got those peksy Rebels launching suicide attacks against the thing every couple weeks, so its only a matter of time before you have an X-Wing fighter or some other piece of random space debris crashing into your living room. Then when the damn thing is finally blown up they start rebuilding it but never finish the job, turning your street into a permanent construction zone, and you don't even dare to ask to see the permit.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

I've found a great resource online entitled the Neighbour to Neighbour Toolkit, which is put out by the City of Waterloo, Ontario. Even if you don't live in the Waterloo area (about an hour from Toronto and home to Canadian technology giant Research in Motion) this site has lots of great information that anybody can use to help improve their community.

Available are step-by-step guides on how to setup your own community association, community gardens, or an intimate neighbourhood BBQ for 500 people. They also have sample press releases, hints and tips for effective planning meetings, setting up community newsletters, and being a force for positive change in your community.

This knowledge and information provided on this site is both universal and easy to adapt for your community.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

If you are a dog owner you may be interested to know that the Canadian Kennel Club offers a 12-step training and certification program that can recognize your dog as a 'Canine Good Neighbour'. Information on the program, including registered evaluators and tests for your area, is available on their website under CKC Services->Canine Good Neighbour. For those in the USA, the American Kennel Club offers many similar resources.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

John writes:

I moved into my condo about two months ago. It was a nice change because the apartment building where I was living was a total dump, and I figured owners would be more respectful than renters. For the most part this has proven to be the case. The exception is the people below me.

I am very careful at all times not to stomp, play loud music or have the television loud. The people below me have company an average of twice a week. Sometimes a few people, sometimes more. Problem here is the guests tend to slam the door. So I talked to them about it. The woman was very understanding (I have only said hello to the guy once in passing) and said she was glad to know. A week later the noise seemed to have gotten better so I took some cookies down that I had made.

A few days later they had a full blowout bash (for Christmas) without telling anyone. Doors slamming, screaming, loud music, the works. Well, the woman below them called the cops TWICE and they got a fine, which apparently the guy was pissed about. I also heard he knew it wasn't me who tattled.

About two weeks or so after this the woman came up to return my cookie container (never said thanks or if she liked them) and also informed me they had installed weatherstripping on their front door to muffle the noise of the door. Well, it has mixed results. It does seem quieter, but they still slam the door, so the difference is not great. Point being, they don't quite seem to understand the concept of closely a door lightly.

I have spoken to the council, and am fact am trying to get on the council, but it seems like since they're supposedly trying to be better I don't have a leg to stand on. Do I need a lawyer? I feel speaking to them again will be fruitless. They are very young and have lots of friends, so they probably feel I am infringing. Should I compare notes with the woman who lives below them? She must have it worse than me, and maybe we can go to the council together.

Ca1v1n replies:

Your neighbours installing the weather-stripping was a good start, and it proves that they at least are trying to resolve concerns. The way I see it you have a couple options.

For starters, have one of them come up to your flat and hang out for a minute while the other one stays downstairs and slams the door. At least this way they will experience what you are talking about first hand. They quite honestly may think you are over-reacting because they do not realize how much noise it makes. I once had a neighbour who was always banging on my wall and I got a bit arrogant about the whole thing, not considering my stereo to have been that loud. It took them inviting me over to their place (and leaving my stereo on) while I was blasting some Dr. Dre for me to realize how poorly our apartments were soundproofed.

You and the woman below should go to the council together if the visit described above does not yeild results. One suggestion I have, which may not be feasible or not, is to look at installing those door hinges that keep doors from slamming. I am sure you know what I am talking about, I think the generic term is "pneumatic door closure" or something like that. It is basically a bracket at the top of the door with a hinge or spring inside that keeps the door from slamming but still allows it to close. You can probably find them at your local Home Depot or hardware store.

Ideally you can convince the condo board to install them on every door in the building. Worst case scenario is that perhaps if you build up a good relationship with your neighbours they will install one themselves?

Finally, nobody should bake cookies for a neighbour and expect thanks. You should bake cookies because its a nice thing to do, and because you get a sense of satisfaction from the giving in the first place. If you also receive a 'Thank You' for them you got a bonus.

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