Monday, December 21, 2009

BETTER PICTURE

The story has been wildly reported and thanks to that I stumbled across a new picture related to my earlier post on Christmas lights. This version is much better:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

POST #89

I started 2009 with some crazy plan to post twice as often as I had in 2008. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for those brave souls who have stumbled upon my rantings) I never found the groove to hit that pace. Instead here we are, approaching the end of another year and my 89th post, which matches last years total. This also marks the end of the 8th year of this blog (hard to believe I started this in 2002) which somehow survives despite me moving three times, changing jobs 4 times, and some major lifestyle changes.

I was in Toronto recently and I drove by my old house. The neighbour who inspired this blog is still in the house next door, and I noticed that he has paved his front yard since I left.

The free tree that the city planted has grown quite a bit over the past 8 years. That is my old house (#137) hiding behind it on the Google Streetview image.

I have a busy two weeks ahead of me with the holidays and all the family headaches that go along with it. If I don't post again before 2010 I just want to take a moment to wish each and every one of my readers a Happy Winter Solstice! No matter what your faith or creed we all (in our own way) are celebrating an astronomical event. The shortest day and longest night and our hopes for the sun to return and the rebirth of the world in Spring. Happy Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Brumalia, Christmas, Sankranti, Amaterasu, Inti Raymi, etc. etc. and etc.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

'TIS THE SEASON

This time of year you occasionally drive past a house where you can tell the occupants really, and I mean really, enjoy Christmas. I refer to these homes as having "The Full Griswold" in reference to the 1989 classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase. If you have not seen this film go out and buy it today. To hell with It's a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, this is the true holiday gem and it should be a family tradition to watch instead of the usual 3-hour orgy of bad animation that is Rankin-Bass.

Quite often you will see a couple 'Full Girswold's' on the same street, as neighbours attempt to compete with each other to see who can blow the most fuses. One such man however knew he simply couldn't hope to compete, so he made a simple statement. A statement so simple in fact, more people are coming by to photograph his house then that of his Holiday-loving friend next door.

Some examples of a 'Full Griswold' to get you in the Holiday mood...

Friday, December 04, 2009

100,000 MOVE

A recent survey commissioned by a Mortgage company in the U.K. is showing that close to 100,000 Britons moved over the last two years because of disputes with their neighbours. While the results may be surprising to some the good news is the majority of people still move for more traditional reasons. Specifically a desire to upgrade their home or because of work or school.

LEGO DANGER

The last thing you would expect when playing with Lego bricks is for the police to kick down your door and point an assault weapon at your head. That is exactly what happened to a Toronto man after a neighbour phoned the police and reported he saw a man with a handgun. Technically Jeremy Bell did have a gun when the police came knocking, except that it was a gun he had built out of Lego.

I think the real story here is that cops would crash into a private home based on a report of a man with a gun. From the sounds of it there was no report that he was threatening anyone with the gun, or pointing it at anyone. While our gun control laws in Canada are far more strict then in the United States you still have the right to possess a gun, including a handgun, in your home provided it is licensed.

From the sounds of it Mr. Bell is taking everything in stride, accepting an apology from his neighbour and being quite clear that he has no plans to stop playing with Lego. His next project is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

HUNDREDS OF DEER

When I first saw this headline I thought this would be just another case of a hunter at odds with his neighbours. Something similar to this post from back in March 2009. I was wrong.

Neighbours of Randy Good have complained about hundreds of dead deer that are littering his property. Now you would think Randy is one hell of a hunter but you would be wrong. Mr. Good's job is to dispose of deer that are hit by vehicles on the local county roads. Some recent problems with his vehicle have resulted in him being unable to make the trip to 'dispose of the bodies'.

REALLY SPECIAL MEETING

Many neighbourhoods have regular "homeowners association" meetings as a means of diffusing conflicts before they escalate. Such meetings occur on in the lovely town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In some places these meetings are conducted at a church, a community center, a private residence, or (as they do in Albuquerque) the local police station.

So you would think this would be the LAST place someone would have a gun pulled on them, even in a "gun friendly" place like New Mexico.

You would be wrong.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is what happens when you live in an apartment with thin walls.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

There is an Elephant in the room, and I'm not talking about the wonderful conference call I was on today at the office. Somebody placed us on hold and so the rest of us were stuck trying to continue the meeting while everybody pretended to ignore the horrible elevator music that was playing in the background. Suffice to say it was impossible and we ended up dropping the conference bridge and then doing a jerry-rigged 4-way x 4-way conference call.

However I digress, this isn't the Elephant I'm talking about. I'm talking about a new service called Warranty Elephant.

Now some folks are very particular about their paperwork. They file things in perfect alphabetical or chronological order in specially designed shelving systems or rows of matching bankers boxes they bought at a store that specializes in selling fancy organizating systems for people who I am quite positive should not be trusted.

I am not one of those people. The shelf to the left of the desk I am sitting at right now has a 3 foot deep pile of old bills, assorted paperwork, warranty cards, receipts, mortgage documents and 4 years worth of tax returns combined with a mish-mash of magazines I should have long ago recycled and crayon drawings courtesy of my 3-year old.

The Warranty Elephant concept is simple. You register on the site, then you enter the details of your recent purchase (television, computer, digital camera, etc.). You can even upload scanned copies of your receipt or the warranty itself to create a digital archive. The Warranty Elephant service then sends you email 3 months, 1 month and 1 week before the warranty on your purchase expires. You can also access your account at any time to review your current warranties and their status. Never again will you need to search thru old receipts and root thru garbage attempting to find the lone scrap of paper that will remind you if that fancy new gadget you bought last summer is still under warranty or if you are suddenly in the market for an upgraded model. With Warranty Elephant you can sort at ease thru the manufacturers, store, or extended warranty details of all your purchases.

Warranty Elephant has also launched a similar tracking service for your Medications, which could not only help an individual keep tabs on the contents of those mystery bottles in all of our medicine cabinets but is a brilliant idea for anybody caring for an aging family member. Check it out today, the service is free so you have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PEEPING JAMES

Imagine one winter morning you look out the back window to find footsteps in the snow, footsteps that appear to indicate someone has been peeping into your teenage daughters window and ground floor bathroom. Fearing for your safety you install a night-vision camera a few days later.


Within 24 hours you have video evidence that shocks you. Your next door neighbour is caught on tape masturbating while watching your daughter through the window. So you call the police, provide them the tapes, and your neighbour is arrested and immediately confesses to the crime.

Several months later, as the case winds through the court system, all charges are dropped without any notification to yourself. The Attorney General indicates this was done because the chance of conviction was unlikely. Then you receive a letter in the mail from a lawyer retained by the neighbour who advises you that your cameras violate the privacy rights of your neighbour. Clearly a well researched letter drafted by a top-notch legal mind, since the camera points at your own house.

A few weeks ago you notice your neighbour has now installed night-vision cameras, one that points directly into your daughters bedroom window and another that points into your living room window. Finally you learn that the neighbour was caught by his former employer for a similar 'peeping & pleasuring' incident roughly 6 months previous.

It isn't the lead up to a cheesy Halloween horror movie. This is real life, in St. Catharines Ontario.

The Cast:

Peeping Tom - James William Cedar of St. Catharines, Ontario
The 'Honest' Lawyer - Margaret Hoy of Niagara Falls
Attorney General - Chris Bentley, Liberal and MPP for London West

Friday, October 23, 2009

TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY

A man in Virginia was arrested recently. His crime? That depends on who you ask. Eric Williamson claims he was arrested for being naked in his own home and his rights have been violated. Eric's story is he had just stumbled out of bed and was simply making coffee in his kitchen. Eric, who for the record looks nothing like the hottie pictured at left, claims he had not bothered to dress as his roommates had all left the house for the day. I mean, who doesn't enjoy walking around naked in your own home from time to time? The wife and I know a couple that have a designated 'naked day' once a month.

According to the unknown complaintant, who was walking her 7-year old child to school (and just so happens to be married to a local Cop) a man stood at a window and exposed himself to her and her child, then did it again at the front window as she continued along the street.

So picture in your mind. Image #1, a naked half-asleep guy with uncombed hair stumbling past a window with a coffee cup. Image #2, a naked guy with his hands behind his head, gyrating his hips and swinging his junk around while leering out the window at a random passerby.

The Police are looking for any other witnesses, hoping they can show this wasn't an isolated incident and add some weight behind the mystery complaint, and justify the arrest before they get sued. No word on if the woman will be arrested on 'Peeping Tom' charges.

Monday, October 19, 2009

THE DEAD BANGING A-ROD

Marina Del Ray, California - A dead 75-year old man sat on his balcony for 3 days in full view and didn't raise any eyebrows among the neighbours. Turns out folks thought the bloody corpse was just another Halloween display. No official word on the cause of death, but suspicions are it was self-inflicted.

New York, NY - The downstairs neighbour of well-past-the-best-before-date superstar Madonna is suing after claiming he has been tortured by daily noise from rehersals, banging, vibrations and late-night dancing sessions. No word if the any of the banging noises are coming from Alex Rodriguez.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ANOTHER TREEHOUSE STORY

Not the first, and definately not the last story we will share about a treehouse gone wrong, turning otherwise friendly neighbours into mortal enemies. With 4 stories, 50 ft high, and taking several months to complete this is one of the most awesome treehouses I have ever seen this side of Swiss Family Robinson. Crazy part is the builder doesn't even have children.

Monday, October 12, 2009

BEST NEIGHBOUR COLLEGES

Living in the so-called "student ghettos" that surround universities and other institutions of higher learning definately has both pros and cons. You don't have to look far for stories about neighbours having their lifestyle impacted by absentee landlords, garbage, loud parties, petty theft and vandalism.

A new survey in the USA has ranked the nations Top-25 Neighbour Universities on the basis of their positive impact to their immediate neighbourhood, using such criteria as cultural and economic impacts and urban renewal and revitalization. Tied for 1st place were the University of Southern California and University of Pittsburgh.

The complete list is available at http://www.wsc.ma.edu/top25saviors

YUMMY NAAN BREAD

Completely off topic but today is the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada and everything is closed. I had to stop by the local Mac's (a convenience store chain) to pick up cat food and milk and found this yummy bread on the shelf. Best before date says Oct 07.


Monday, October 05, 2009

WATCH THOSE LEAVES

I spent last Sunday in my yard, running the mower for what will likely be the last time of the season and generally tidying up the flower beds and garden. So far not many leaves have fallen, but it won't be long now, and I have a rather large yard with quite a few large trees so pretty soon my lawn will be a covered in leaves.

When I lived in Toronto there was a local bylaw that as a property owner you were responsible for raking and bagging (in craft paper bags) leaves that fell on your yard. Bags were to be disposed of by leaving them on the curb to be picked up by a special truck on a schedule similar to garbage pickup. Raking your leaves out into the street could result in a fine. Similar bylaws exist in many communities as municipalities attempt to cut back on budgets and have decided that fall leaf cleanup should be 100% property owner cost. Thankfully where I currently live is not one of those places and there are no laws about raking and bagging your leaves. You are actually encouraged to simply sweep the leaves out into the street the day before the "giant leaf-sucking truck" (a tractor with a huge trailer mounted vacuum) makes the rounds.

Clearly they don't have a cool tractor like that in the city of Boston, where a man has been charged with attempted murder after he shot his neighbour over an argument over leaf disposal.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

MY NEIGHBOUR JERKS MY CHICKEN

Cool article on The Torontoist about a new advertising campaign that encourages people to support their local neighbourhood businesses by shopping locally.

NEIGHBOUR HEADLINES

Neighbour disputes run the gambit, from minor annoyances to major inconveniences that impact our standard of living and safety. First we examine the childish...

Two years and over $100,000 in legal fees later a judge has ruled that a fence that separates two rural properties encroached the properly line by "between 2 and 28 centimeters". He also described the dispute as childish. I've posted stories about fence disputes before, and my father in law lived thru one, but they normally involve disputes that add up to hundreds of square feet and risk impacting property values. Two centimeters? That is not even one inch. The width of the fence itself is more then two centimeters.

Next we examine the serious...

After five years and three separate attempts at prosecution it seems that finally something is being done about a suburban backyard that was turned into a junkyard, complete with at least three cars and several tons of rotting waste. Neighbours have been complaining the smell is making them sick, and the weight of the garbage piling up is causing the fences that separate the yards to collapse. Check out the image...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

30% INCREASE

A new study conducted in the U.K. suggests problems with "bad neighbours" have increased by 30% over the past two years. Results of the survey of over 1,000 people indicated at at least 1 in 5 indicated they had been involved in "serious" conflicts with their neighbours. More details of the survey are available at BBC News.

The real question is are neighbours really getting worse, or are we getting less tolerant?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD NANNY STATE

Crazy story out of Michigan I stumbled across today. Lisa Snyder is your typical suburban milf. Sorry, bad joke. The new season of Weeds started last weekend and it just happens to be my favourite show on television.... and Mary Louise-Parker is @#$%ing smokin' and I don't just mean the ganja. What I meant to say is that Lisa Snyder is your typical suburban mom. She drives the minivan to her kids soccer practice, bakes cookies, and enjoys gardening (OK, so I made all that up, but lets just say she is your typical suburban mom)

Like most folks today some of her neighbours don't have the luxury of having a parent stay home. In the current economy double-income families are probably the norm instead of an exception. Since her neighbours often take turns helping her babysit on weekends (like all good neighbours do) she had been welcoming three neighbourhood kids (along with her old child) into her home every morning for about 30 minutes while waiting for the school bus to arrive. Or at least she was doing this until she got a nasty letter from some bureaucrat who only has his job because he got all C's in High School.

The warning, from the Michigan Department of Human Services informed her that she was guilty of operating an unlicensed daycare. Some investigation led to the discovery the feds were tipped off by another neighbour who complained. Seriously, unless the kids were causing trouble why don't folks mind their own business? While Lisa tries to argue her case with some government flunky she has stopped helping her neighbours, who now have to put their kids into an after-school daycare. I wonder if the neighbour who complained is a part-owner?

Monday, September 28, 2009

WHO GETS THE RABIES SHOT?

Saskatchewan, Canada - A man looked out the window of his home in Saskatoon, Sask. to witness a pitbull attacking his neighbours dog. Rushing to the aid of the canine he was unable to separate the animals. The pit bull had locked his jaws tight on little 'Fluffy' and it appeared things were going to end badly. So Jonathon Schacher did the only logical thing he could do. He bit the pitbull on the nose. Lucky for Mr. Schacher the dog didn't turn on him and tear him limb from limb. Instead the animal immediately released the other dog, sat down, licked his face and started wagging its tail. Then they rolled in a mud puddle together and took turns sniffing each others butt.

LONG TIME UPDATES

I was feeling very guilty about not updating for over a month, and went back and read my stupid resolution from January of this year to post twice as much in 2009 as I did in 2008. So much for that. I'm 20 posts behind at this point and will need to step it up considerably to even equal 2008.

That all being said according to the site stats on Adsense people are actually still visiting here, which makes me feel even more guilty for not posting.

I just got back from a business trip to Lafayette, Louisiana and despite the long hours had some great times. If you ever get to Lafayette I can't recommend enough checking out the Blue Moon Saloon & Guesthouse. It is a roots-rock live music venue with a B&B attached. Ultra hip and you simply can't go wrong any night there is a band playing.

http://www.bluemoonpresents.com/

In other news I may be going to Jamaica in the spring for my sister's wedding. She is a travel agent and specializes in destination weddings. If you live in Canada (or anywhere else for that matter) check her out at:

http://travelmasters.ca/ or via email elizabeth@travelmasters.ca.

She also has a Facebook Group:
Travel Masters Calgary West

So she has us planned to spend 4 days at White Sands Negril and then 3 days at Tensing Pen. Both places look amazing. Definately not your run-of-the-mill chain resorts. I am very excited about the trip, but need to find a way to lose 20lbs by then so I don't look horrible in a swimsuit. Notice I said "look horrible", which is a damn sight away from "looking good". I just need to lose a bit of beer gut.

So book a trip with my sister and tell her I sent you. I think she is running some kind of contest right now for referrals. :-)

Kate from Italy writes:

I moved to Italy two years ago to marry my long time boyfriend. We married in May of 2008, and then bought an apartment that August (because buying a house in Italy is about as easy as getting a brick to fly). In October we moved into the house, and are about to celebrate one year in our gorgeous apartment here in the 'burbs of Modena, Italy.

Everything was fine and dandy until about February of this year. The apartment next to ours was up for rent and we noticed a chubby single man move in. He didn't cause a lot of problems, he was a pretty cordial guy, until he started talking to our other neighbors. Time went on, the weather got warmer, and he began to live his social life on his balcony. Yelling and laughing and being a jackass, making other people live on their balconies to yell and laugh with/at him.

We haven't been able to afford to buy an air conditioner this year and in the hot summer months, it is impossible to keep the windows and shutters closed. This asshole is on his balcony until 2:30 in the morning flirting with the girls in the apartment opposite his, joking with the people opposite our apartment, and he doesn't realize just how LOUD he is. His voice can be heard in Moscow without an amplifier. Not kidding. Add that to the fact that my husband and I have jobs and we wake up very early in the morning.

The last straw was this morning. I am enjoying a day off, and I took the laundry downstairs to my garage. I got it started, and made a shocking discovery. Over the course of the last 5 months, our beloved neighbor has been leaving the downstairs door open so that the girls in the apartment opposite his can get in and cone to his door at all hours of the day or night without using a key. This pissed me off because we have many valuable belongings that could be at risk. As I was coming back up the stairs this morning from starting the laundry, I noticed poop. Yes, poop. Poop on the ground floor. Poop on the stairs. Poop on his and my doormats! His libido and douchbaggery has allowed rats into our brand new apartment building. My husband keeps telling me that this is normal in Italy. Loud neighbors living out their lives on their balconies, not working, never sleeping, wearing Dolce & Gabbana and Armani that are ten sizes too small and give them muffin-tops from hell. He tells me this is the way it is and I shouldn't let it bother me. We'll just buy an air conditioner, shut all of the windows and shutters, and call it good. But if I see even ONE rat-poop on my doormat again in the future, I will personally stick it in my neighbor's fat mouth and hope he gets dysentery and dies on his toilet.

Ca1v1n Replies:

No doubt Italian culture is vastly different from other parts of the world, I would guess you moved there from somewhere in N. America? You are also not the first to complain about similar situations. I have friends in Toronto who bought a house in an Italian neighbourhood and loved it, until they realized the quaint little cafe on the corner turns into a full-fledged club on Friday nights and is especially rowdy when there is a football (soccer) match on.

You'll never get this man to stop living on his balcony, and you shouldn't even try. Your husband is right about that being the culture. I suggest you embrace it. Catch a nap in the early evening or upon returning from work. Get in the habit of eating dinner late and spending time on your balcony as well. Alternately you could get in the habit of blasting gangsta rap from your balcony at 6am.

I would focus on the more direct concern of leaving the door open. I suspect that if you approach the man (over a bottle of nice wine) and express your concerns about the security of your apartment that he will be more then understanding. Good luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I received another letter recently regarding neighbourly conflict related to a new play house.

14 years ago, my husband and I purchased a home in a rural setting on a 3 acre property. The reason that we chose it was because it had a secluded, sanctuary of a back yard, complete with high shrubs, gardens and most importantly a 6 foot privacy fence which separated us from neighbors on both sides. Generally speaking you cannot see either of their properties (except for the roof lines from some parts of the yard).

We both work in service type professions and have to deal with many people their needs & complaints all week long. At the end of a hectic week we want nothing more than to get away from it all and relax in our yard (in solitude) working on our many flower gardens or just relaxing in a hammock and catching up on a good the weeks news.

Our neighbor to the left owns a 2 acre property. They have a little girl who loves to come over and look at our flowers. The occasional visit and subsequent tour is fine and she leaves with a handful of flowers to take home. Recently they decided to erect a play structure for her. Rather than placing it somewhere in their yard near their house or towards the middle - guess what they decided? Since she loves our gardens so much, they erected the 8 foot structure directly next to the property line to give her a perfect view over the fence and bushes. Now all weekend long she perches up there gawking at us and pestering us with questions and comments.

Nothing like encouraging the invasion of peoples' privacy as a life lesson.

This sounds unfortunate. Up until the play structure was built it seemed there was no conflict at all with your neighbours. This isn't exactly a unique problem either. There have been a couple big stories recently about neighbour conflict that revolved around a play structure. In 2008 a story out of British Colombia regarding a pirate ship themed tree house made international headlines.

A quick google news search finds plenty of other examples:

Treehouse dispute in Park City, Utah

Front yard treehouse dispute from Dallas, Texas

I think you will probably be able to take some consolation in the fact that most kids grow out of the treehouse phase pretty quick (even faster these days thanks to 21st century entertainment like the Wii), so hopefully this particular little girl doesn't have any younger siblings. In a few years she will be reading Teen Vogue and arguing with her parents about how much makeup is appropriate for someone in Jr. High.

- Editor

Rose writes:

I have been living my apartment for 3 years and I have had the same idiot living next to me the whole entire time. Unfortunately I live in NYC and this not a great time to move as I don't have enough money saved up to buy a condo.

This fool has no understanding that people do work for a living because of course he does not. My management company (Community Access) takes in homeless, many with mental disorders and drug addicts into all of their buildings; basically all of these types because they want to collect sure fire government checks. I have sent multiple letters to the management and all possible governing bodies in NYC and cannot get relief. The management will not move him to another apartment in another building. They actually suggested I be the one to move. I am the one who works and does not make any noise!!! I have tried to have a mediation but he refused to participate. At this point I am fed up and began posting my annoyance on twitter and any other site that may prevent me from going upside this idiots head.

Just needed to blow off steam. Thank you for reading.

Monday, August 10, 2009

WORLDS LONGEST BLT

So I stumbled across this story about some folks in St. Louie who were attempting to break the World Record for the largest BLT sandwich. Truth be told I was drawn to the story because of the mention of 500lbs of beautiful tasty bacon that was needed to make the sandwich.

Then I saw a picture, and I call "Shenannigans". It isn't one piece of bread, just a bunch of separate pieces of bread laying next to each other. If you look closely you can even see that each piece was prepared on its own cutting board. Look, the fact of the matter is that ANYBODY can make "The Worlds Longest Sandwich" via this method. The only thing holding you back is $$$.

To truly be a "World Record" it should be something that is actually difficult. Like being able to cook a bun that is 179 feet long. THAT is an achievement. Guiness should rethink their rules for this sort of thing, or at least change the title to "longest chain of BLT sandwiches stacked end to end".

Saturday, August 01, 2009

STOLEN CAR FOUND

A stolen car that belongs to an 82 year old German woman was found in a neighbours garage roughly 2 years after it was first reported missing. However this isn't a story about everyone being suprised that the neighbour was a thief. Turns out the car was parked it in the wrong garage.

Closer to home the CIA has smashed a terrorist group that had spent 3 years travelling the Middle East, buying guns, and hatching an elaborate plan involving kidnapping and murder to further a global jihad. Arrested were Aa'idah Mohammed Salem, Nesrin Waleed, and... oh wait, sorry... arrested was American-born Daniel Boyd, a drywall contractor from North Carolina. His neighbours were very suprised, and claim he was "the nicest terrorist they ever met".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

30 YEAR GARDEN

A 30-year old garden that I can only describe as a labour of love is in danger of being razed by the municipality of Mississauga (a suburb that wishes it was Toronto but not nearly as hip) because of a single complaint by a neighbour.

After not enforcing a bylaw for 30 years the city is apparently now moving forward and informed Carmela and Frank Loconte, a retired couple who own the adjacent property and have maintained the city owned plot since 1979, to prepare for the worst. The garden will be bulldozed and replaced with grass due to the impact their perennial wonderland has on sight lines which apparently constitute a clear and present danger. This despite city workers saying as recently as last week that the garden was fine. Mississauga should be careful however, as Frank is a retired lawyer.

This isn't the first time we have seen similar complaints. While this case revolves around a city owned plot of land we have seen other stories where property owners who were concerned with the environment have replaced boring turf lawns with perennial wildgrasses or natural indigenous plantings that disrupt some suburbanites concept of a "proper" frontage. Despite it being more a concern about aesthetics the complaints usually revolve around visibility concerns since these gardens clearly grow higher then turf grass. We all know most bureaucrats are so keen on behaving like big brother when it comes to safety issues it only makes sense that folks opposed to environmentally sound landscaping use this tactic.

Details can be found on the Mississauga News website.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

COLLECTIVE EFFICACY

A sstudy out of Britian has determined that how well neighbours know and are willing to support each other has an impact on the development of thier children. Neighbourhoods with higher so-called "collective efficacy" (social networks that pursue a common purpose) have a corresponding decrease in anti-social behavior among children who live in the neighbourhood.

WALL WTF

A woman is Scottburg, New Zealand is literally a prisoner in her own home after a neighbour built a concrete wall in front of her driveway. Unfortunately the story does not go into details of property lines, right of way, etc. but the picture of this poor old lady says it all.

Brenda Hayle has owned her home, and used this same driveway to enter and exit the property for 25 years. She has appealed to the city but like most civic bureaucracies they are useless. As far as her neighbour goes, she must be on a different planet because she claims she has done nothing wrong. WTF?

KITCHEN RENO

I've heard lots of horror stories over the years about renovations turning neighbours against each other. I am happy to say that over the last month I have lived through one and never really had anything I could complain about on this blog.

Our next door neighbours are nearing the end of a major kitchen renovation that involved knocking out a wall and building an addition to their house. I can honestly say that the work never started too early, or extended late into the evening. The contractors were polite and professional, the debris was cleaned up nightly, etc. Other then being without phone/internet for 24 hours when they accidentally hit a buried cable the entire process has been painless.

Turns out they actually did "call before you dig" and the utility folks that came out only marked out one set of gas lines/sewage pipes, etc. Who would have thought my phone line would go out a few feet from my house, under my neighbours driveway, and then turn towards the junction box? The sign was a joke more then being upset. I stole his wireless signal for the night and warned him I would do it.

I have a great relationship with all my neighbours, and I would joke with them constantly about how I was calling in the inspector or just lodged a complaint with the city. It definately helps to have the kind of relationship where you can do something like that. In the end it is all about openness and communication. I remember that they shared with us their plans every step of the way so nothing would be a suprise.

Have you lived through a painless neighbour renovation? Or not? Share your story by sending it to me at ca1v1n@hotmail.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

YEAH YEAH YEAH

Two weeks, I know I know. Far too long to have not posted anything. Lets just leave it at that and move along. Going to get back into the swing of things I hope. Lots going on. Once again working like a dog (multiple big launches coming up at the day job and some travel over the last few weeks and next week) and just way too tired to feel creative or inspired enough to write anything.

Which is silly of course, since writing/creating is like crack. You start and you can't stop. My trouble is just starting. I guess a better analogy would be exercise, except I can't image starting that. Best to stick to the crack.

Just got back from a trip to Toronto. We were in town for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, a yearly thing that the wife and I do. She worked at a couple big name galleries for many years before devoting herself full-time to not cleaning my house and watching Oprah. As you may or may not be aware the city of Toronto is in the middle of a municipal worker strike, and one of the things not happening right now is garbage collection.

I lived in Toronto back in 2002 the last time this happened and let me tell you this time the difference is like night and day. Sure there are some overflowing trash bins around, but for the most part the city was "normal". The local business associations in each neighbourhood have really stepped up and are doing lots of clean up themselves or hiring private contractors. The residents are showing far more civic pride as well. The last strike everybody just seemed to toss their garbage everywhere, but most residential areas are quite tidy.

It helps that Toronto has done a lot to divert waste over the last few years. Green bin recycling and backyard composters are far more prevalent now then they were 6 years ago. I also think it helps that very few folks support the union demands (especially in this economic climate) and they recognize that making a mess of the city only strengthens the unions bargaining position. The best thing to do is keep live as close to normal as possible as long as possible.

I won't get into the details of the strike, you can google it.

The art show was awesome, as it always is, and I attempted to do some shopping. I did manage to find a pair of Clark's sandals but could not find a pair of Simple sneakers. I drank lots of beer at a Patio in Kensington market and ate the best duck & noodle soup in the world at a little place on Spadina. All in all it was good times.

Neighbour news coming up soon I promise.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A.B. from Pennsylvania writes:

I would like to share my story. My husband and I and our 2 kids rented a home in the Upper Bucks County area of Pennsylvania in August 2008. What we moved next door to was the antithesis of the anti-Christ. My husband is a cement mason in a Philadelphia Local Union. I am a part time HR rep for a company. We work hard. In 2006 my husband got a DUI. It was a strain on the family, but we worked through it. He was on probation. The last time we had to go to court for a hearing, we saw our next door neighbor at the hearing. Turns out she is a probation officer for Bucks County and has the reputation of an over the top, all out bitch.

I don't know if she couldn't get into law school or the FBI but apparently she is extremely bitter and likes that feeling of belittling the small guy. She looked at my husband and I and concluded that we were not worthy of living next door to her. A few days later, my husband spoke to her husband because of a situation that happened the previous night. My husband was smoking a cigarette and saw our neighbor's bike on the sidewalk. He went over picked up the bike and was bring it up to the garage when my neighbor's husband came out. My husband explained that he was bringing the bike up and introduced himself, and my neighbour's husband, who is a prison guard at Bucks County Dept. of Corrections said, "Yeah, I know you". Apparently, he thinks that he is some sort of hard ass. What a joke. More like the Pillsbury dough boy. He is a glorified baby sitter, that gets paid to sit on his ass and yell at some poor souls that have lost their way in life. I mean who sits there as a young boy and thinks, "One day I am going to be a prison guard and help the world". I am thinking that he must be hung like a light switch and suffers from some sort of complex. I often hear him yelling through the walls at his kids.

After speaking to my husband about this, we decide it would be a good idea to clear the air. The next day my husband rings the door bell and asks to speak to him regarding the previous evening. My husband also was bringing him a bag of Thomas the Tank Engine toys that my son had out grown playing with and I had promised to them before we had the falling out. I figured that I was living here and I liked the house, I didn't want to be best friends but I also didn't want to be shunned either. They spoke about my husbands run in with the law and the neighbours admitted that both him and his wife "looked him up" and they knew all about him. My husband tried to explain that we were good people, we took care of our house, we didn't have wild parties, that were were just your ordinary family that worked hard and for the most part kept to ourselves. My husband also asked that they not share the DUI with the other neighbors because we didn't want the parents in this snotty ass development to judge our kids on actions that my husband did.

They ended up telling everybody, and now people turned their backs on us as soon as we come out the door. All of the cordial waves and the morning greetings came to an abrupt stop. My husband had lost his drivers license with the DUI and they knew it. He told my husband that apparently she saw him driving (which wasn't the case). Apparently, the think they are the "Super Twins" over there and that they are going to "rid the world of all the evil doers". The conversation ended and my husband came home.

We have 2 small children. They made friends here, even with the little girl next door. I gave her drinks and treats within reason, that sort of thing. One day this little girl came in our house and was playing upstairs in my daughters room. When she was seen by her parents, through the open window, she was swiftly told to come home. This girl was grounded for a week for being in my home. Like my husband was some sort of child rapist or robbed someone a gun point. He got a freakin' DUI for Christ sake!!!!

The winter went on and she was apparently telling his probation officer that he was driving. Again, which was not the case. My husband's work is seasonal. When it is 30 degrees or below or raining or snowing, he doesn't work. She also was telling the local police. We then found out she had made a poster made of him and posted in the local police department. It gave a description of my car and him, said he had a DUI and his drivers license was under suspension and if seen driving to pull him over. This is the lengths she will go to are boundless.

She wants to to move and not buy this house. Which, in the beginning, was the plan. She even had the balls to tell my landlord that it would be unethical and unmoral to sell us this house. She then told the landlord that other neighbors would be calling her in protest us buying the house. So that is why, I HATE MY NEIGHBORS!! If anyone has any words of wisdom or thinks I could sue them for harassment or knows a good attorney that handles this type of matter please let me know.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

30 YEARS IN THE FREEZER

An 83 year old lady in the U.K. has been accused of hiding her dead mothers body in a freezer... for 30 years. Believe it or not foul play is not suspected. It is believed she was afraid of getting in trouble with the authorities, as her mother was an illegal immigrant at the time of her death, estimated at sometime in late 1970's.

Monday, May 25, 2009

WAR ON NEIGHBOUR TERROR

A crazy-ass dude from Kissimmeee, Florida with an extensive police record declared war on his neighbour, and then drove his 1992 Honda thru the wall of his neighbours home. The man was promptly beaten up by the owner of the house, who restrained him until the police arrived and escorted him to his new living quarters at the county jail.

Which all doesn't sound so bad when compared to the crazy shit that went down in Toledo, Ohio the other day. A crazy-ass dude pulled out his gun collection and starting shooting at the neighbours after determining that they were responsible for the kidnapping and murder of his parents. After a standoff with local authorities the man was shot dead by police. His parents returned from their vacation to find they were responsible for planning a funeral.

Finally in the U.K., the Southampton City Council is moving to evict Mary Plaisted from her government subsidized ground floor apartment. Plaisted, who has been dubbed "Britian's oldest neighbour from hell" is 98 and is accused of a years-long campaign of harrassment and intimidation of her neighbours. She is accussed of banging on doors and windows with her cane at all hours of the day and night and recently had her phone disconnected after calling the police over a hundred times. She is also accussed of pressing the social assistance panic button ("I've falled down and can't get up") over 500 times in one month for no reason at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Frannie writes:

We've been in a small quiet town about 35 min. outside of Boston for a little over 13 years. Our neighbors on one side are like an extra set of grandparents to our three kids. The people across the street keep to themselves for the most part but when we do meet up they are always really nice. However, the neighbor abutting our property on the other side has been anything but pleasant since we moved in, except for her "fake" politeness.

When we arrived our oldest was 3. He would throw his ball around the yard and sometimes it would accidentally land in her yard. He would get his ball and she would say to him from her window "you need to keep that in your yard". He was 3! When he was 5 and he was playing with his younger brother, even though I had warned them, the ball accidentally went into her yard and she opened her window and told them if they did it again she was going to call me. One sunny afternoon our kids come to the door yelling "the big man said it was OK for us to play with his girls". We went outside and found this woman's son and grandchildren in our yard. Her son was nice enough and so were the girls, but we were floored. She put on her "fake" politeness talking about how cute children are. I'm sure for her son's benefit, considering anyone hardly visits her.

A year later she started yelling at my kids who were playing behind our shed which is near the property line. She accused them of killing her grass. There was no grass there to begin with. My husband had them rake up the area and we had to ban them from playing there. When our oldest was 12 he decided he wanted to mow the lawn for allowance. We supervised and while he was out mowing he stopped to pick up a stick and she yells over that he was too young to be mowing, that was his father's job.

We eventually had a third child and decided we needed to put an addition on our home. We didn't need a variance, but the project set her off anyway. She was constantly making comments about how the construction and that the house was now too big. She started a bunch of renovation activity at her own home and then planted a series of arborvitaes along the property line. We were thrilled, and we prayed that they would grow. Unfortunately, many didn't survive the first two winters, due to the heavy snow and deer. She would water them religiously but to no avail, and most of them died.

One afternoon during a rain storm a branch from a pine tree that sits on the property line fell on one of her dear arborvitaes. A small branch was snapped off. We saw the whole thing and decided not to say anything. She came out later and called me over to ask if I could take a picture of it with MY camera and if I would submit a claim to MY homeowners insurance.

The final straw came last spring when my husband who had been gone for a week on a business trip was playing outside with our kids and she accused him of driving a piece of equipment on her property a couple of days prior and that she had the tire marks to prove it. She ignored him when he said he hadn't home, she just kept accusing him. By now she had awakened the beast from within and I came out and strung together a thread of profanities that would have made Howard Stern blush. Bad example for my kids, I know. But she hasn't bothered us since.

So flash forward to the present, we have now built a privacy screen on our deck, planted bushes on our side and removed the swing set. But here's the funny thing, for a woman who wants nothing to do with us, she rakes incessantly on the property line where dead arborvitaes stand as a testament to her stupidity. She constantly spies on us while we are in the backyard working or socializing with guests. Spying is a bad word, it makes it seem like she's sneaking a peek, but she blatantly stares with rake in hand. It's bad enough that she'll rake near our shed when my husband is inside with a friend or family member and listen to their conversation. She also watches me have drinks on the porch with my friends and family and stares at my mother-in-law while she's spending time with her grandchildren. So if she can't stand us, why does she find us so fascinating?

I think she is lonely and her arborvitaes were her only friends - Ca1v1n

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

FUN IN DETROIT

Just got back from a couple days on business in Detroit. Technically I was in Southfield, one of the suburban communities that everybody fled to when downtown Detroit went to shit. For the most part it was uneventful but I need to share a story from Sunday night.

We arrived late, roughly midnight and about 3 hours later then planned thanks to one of my co-workers forgetting her passport and having to return home. We had reservations at your typical business travel hotel. One of those places that is very nice and clean but no restaurant, no room service, no pool, etc. Purely caters to business travellers.

The thing was despite having a GPS and printouts from Google Maps, we couldn't find the place to save our life. Based on both the GPS and the maps we were in the right place but no hotel. Lots of other hotels all around but not ours. We ended up stopping at a gas station for directions. The guy inside was an idiot, telling us to drive up to 12 mile and blah blah. I knew we were close to the hotel, and I knew 12 mile was way too far. We were about to give up when a guy pulled in to buy gas.

I walked over and as I approached yelled out. Hey, do you know how to get to blah blah blah.... This was no ordinary guy. Brand new 2009 Jaguar with 20" spinner rims, decked head to toe in Sean John gear and baked out of his mind. He could barely keep his eyes open. Instead of blowing me off he was like "oh yea... yea... that is right by my place... follow me...."

So you are probably thinking that following a guy we just met, who was likely driving a car purchased with drug money, down a street where we had no idea where we were going was probably a bad idea. We thought so as well, but he seemed genuine. I can't place it. Just a feeling. He drove us right to the lobby entrance of a beautiful hotel, waved, and sped off. Problem was, it wasn't our hotel. It has a similar name, but it still was not ours.

We eventually found our hotel. The map had it on the wrong side of the freeway. We had driven within 100 meters of it twice during the 45 minutes we drove around in circles. It was around a tight corner and you couldn't see the sign from the street or the highway. We all sent emails to our corporate travel dept. and asked that they never book anybody in this hotel again.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

STUPID NEIGHBOURS VS AUTISM

Story out of San Diego I stumbled across today. A family moved into an picture perfect San Diego suburb thinking it would be good for their family and were not welcomed with open arms. Their crime? Having a child with Autism.

The Trussell's have been subject to a series of wild accusations that their child is violent and a threat to other children in the neighbourhood. Calls were made to the Police and Child Protective Services resulting in no charges, the accusations being determined as baseless.

Gary Trussell, a 25 year veteran and commercial airline pilot had his professional reputation maligned by the neighbours, who accused him of being a dangerous and unpredictable drug addict. From the evidence it seems all he did was take exception to his son being bullied by some other children in the neighbourhood and asked that his child be left alone.

When series of threats, accusations, and phone calls failed to achieve the twisted neighbours desired result they took the Trussell family to court, demanding their children be confined to their own yard. The case was tossed out and the neighbours have been ordered to pay the Trussell's legal fees. There is still justice in this world.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NAKED GNOMES

Most neighbourly conflicts start with an offense, either real or perceived, by one side. It could be construction noise, a barking dog, crazy parties, or destructive children. Other times the offense can be much more sublime. Take this example out out the U.K. At the age of 64, Sandra Smith is your typical British pensioner. She enjoys Coronation Street, tea and her lovely garden. For the last 15 years Smith has had a variety of garden gnomes scattered about the grounds, including 3 that were (gasp) partly naked.

A neighbour made a formal complaint to the local town council and this is where things get confusing. Smith claims she was contacted by the authorities and told the statues were indecent and if she did not remove or cover them up she could face charges. Smith complied with the order, but media started to take notice. Now the town as changed its tune, claiming nobody ever contacted Smith, and a fellow neighbour who is a Police officer has advised her that in no way could she be charged with indecency for a lawn ornament of a gnome. I suspect you would need something a bit more blatant, like a giant dildo.

Either way the "cheeky chappies" (as Smith refers to them) are back on display. The neighbour who made the complaint, claims it is "childish and pathetic" that this sort of thing could be allowed in someones front garden. Hello Pot? Its me Kettle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

LIFE SAVING BRA

You simply can't make stuff like this up. A Detroit woman can credit her bra with saving her life. The woman, who had ran to her window when the neighbours burglar alarm went off, was shot at by the escaping culprits. The bullet deflected off the underwire of her bra and did not penetrate her skin. Must have been one hell of an underwire. One thing for sure, since the woman was 58 years old and lives in downtown Detriot you know it doesn't look like the gratuitous picture I decided to use for this story.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SAY NO TO PIGS

A man in Oxfordshire was arrested for harassment after his neighbour complained about a small pig statue and sign reading "No Pigs" was spotted in his back garden. Turns out this neighbour is a police officer and felt this was some sort of insult directed at him. The trouble is, the man who owns the statues is a retired pig farmer, and frankly if I was a retired pig farmer I wouldn't want them around either. (Except on my breakfast plate) It also turns out he had the pig statue in the back garden long before the pig neighbour moved in. The two (pig and retired pig farmer) have been feuding for the last 18 months over the location of a path that divides their back gardens, and of course the pig had to use his power to try to intimidate his neighbour. After being held for 6 hours the man was released and no charges were laid. Stupid pig.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

NOTHING I CAN ADD

There is nothing I can add to this, so I'll just let you read for yourself. Not sure where this originated, but the image was found on Flickr.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NEIGHBOUR HEADLINES

Two Stupid Neighbour candidates for Darwin awards showed up on my radar today.

A man in Tasmania is dead after being trapped in a house fire. A house fire that he set attempting to cover up the fact that he had murdered his neighbour. Police found a partially severed limb in another residence (presumably the killers) nearby. Other residents of the quiet suburb of New Norfolk indicated the two had been seen drinking heavily earlier in the evening.

A Cambridge man is missing after his house exploded. An explosion that it appears he planned himself. Donald Joyce was facing eviction from his bungalow later that day after being found guilty of harassment and intimidation of his neighbours.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SCREW YOU RECESSION

The signs are all around us. The world is in the middle of an economic meltdown. The pundits and talking heads tell us the worst is still ahead of us but who can you really trust? Everybody has an agenda, and it turns out most of the "stock market experts" on the major networks are convicted felons. Television shows and websites devoted to penny pinching are more popular then ever, and every where you look folks are talking about battening down the hatches and riding out the storm.

Despite the above these are exciting times. Art and culture, especially music, tend to flourish during times of economic upheaval. This is a time when individual creativity can win out over self indulgence fueled by an unlimited budget. The only thing standing in your way is some self-doubt. So get up and do something...

Stand up and shout it from the rooftops... SCREW YOU RECESSION!


Learn to cook, not just reheat. The basics of rustic Italiano. Pasta, home made sauces, olive oil and fresh herbs.

Learn to fix, to tinker, to repair. How about changing your own oil? Sure it is a messy job, but few things compare to the great feeling you get after spending a sunny afternoon working on your car in the driveway and sipping a cold beer. Oil changes call for Pabst Blue Ribbon not some fancy overpriced Microbrew.

Reduce and Reuse. Most of us have the 3rd "R" down pat. We diligently fill our blue boxes every week and leave them at the curb. How about trying to actually limit what ends up in that box in the first place?

Get back to basics for your entertainment dollar. Start with the public library. Skip the overpriced tickets to some big concert and spend $5 cover at a small club to hear a bunch of kids living the beginning of their rock star dreams.

Ignore the $5 latte and splurge a bit on some high quality beans from a local independent roaster. Brew your coffee at home instead. Invite your friends. Instead of spending the afternoon at a hip cafe eating overpriced food you can sit around your apartment and enjoy an English style tea party, complete with home made baked goods and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

These are just some of my ideas. The screwyourecession.ca site has many more. You can also keep up to date with the latest news via their twitter feed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

STUPID NEIGHBOUR AWARD

Today's STUPID NEIGHBOUR AWARD goes to Greg Gutfeld, host of the late-night Red Eye show which airs on FOX at 3am.

Gutfeld made some negative comments the other night about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Click here for the footage courtesy of YouTube.

For those who don't know, over the last 6 years, the Americans have gallivanted around in Iraq looking for non-existent WMD, while our NATO allies (specifically the French, Germans and Dutch... the British have carried their own weight) have refused to be deployed anywhere but the very stable Northern provinces or in military roles of any kind. All this time the Canadian military has been left to deal with the shit-storm that is Kandahar province, former stronghold of the Taliban. A mission that has left over 100 of our soldiers dead.

Not to say that our allies have not sacrificed. I hear a Dutch soldier broke a nail once, and the French were forced to not shower for weeks at a time (Oh wait, that is normal).

Unlike most of FOX's talking heads, at least Gutfeld had the common decency to apologize when he was called out. That is far more then can be said about idiots like Joe Scarborough and Bill O'Reilly. That being said, Gutfield is on at 3am and his show goes up against the likes of SHAM-WOW infomercials and hot babes in bikinis trying to convince you to dial a 976 number.

My personal opinion as to the usefulness of the mission is not relevant to this post. However, disrespecting the brave men and women who serve is unacceptable. Therefore I apologize now to the Dutch and French governments, who despite hiding behind our kilts are still making a contribution in Afghanistan, abet a minor one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NEIGHBOUR HEADLINES

Cardiff, Wales - A man has been sentenced to jail for six months after smashing down his neighbour's door with an axe. Apparently he had been upset about the creaky door for months, claiming it was waking him up late at night. Witnesses say he was seen in the hallway moments before the attack wielding an axe and a machete while screaming "I'm going to kill someone... I'll chop them up". Next time how about attacking the hinge with some WD-40?

Lanchester, Durham - File this one under "Not Going To End Well". A former Hell's Angel, who barely avoided jail after finally being convicted of harassing his neighbours, has been allowed to move back into his old house. A previous court judgement had ordered him to sell the property and never return but I guess that proved difficult in this current economic climate. The order to sell the home has been lifted, and since the man has been on his best behaviour for the last six months someone has determined he is no longer a threat. So what did he do that was so horrible? Well cutting down his neighbours hedge and putting up a barbed wire fence is pretty standard. Banging on walls and brandishing firearms isn't exactly out of the ordinary either. How about stabbing HIMSELF in the chest and then accusing his neighbour?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

OCTOMOM & SLACKING

I've been slacking. I'll admit it. Getting stuck in the daily grind of work and not being inspired. The strange part is I just kinda got a promotion at work, which also has me at a new office, which also cut my commute by roughly 90 minutes each day. Instead of an hour driving into and from the office each day I now drive 15 minutes each way. I also now have free parking instead of paying $110/month. Pretty sweet deal. You would think I would be more excited.

I threw my back out yesterday. Not sure how. I wasn't lifting anything heavy or doing any crazy exercise or anything. I just suddenly hurt like hell and have lost a full range of motion. It started in the afternoon. By the time I went to bed I could barely move. Work today was absolutely horrible. Driving home I couldn't even shoulder-check to see if there was a car in my blind spot. I feel a bit better now since I'm doped up on Robaxacet and a couple beers after enjoying a very hot bath. Personally, I'd like to get my hands on some Oxycontin or Percacets.

So after the above I don't have much "neighbour related" to share. Just be happy you don't live in the La Habra neighbourhood of Los Angeles, new home of OctoMom.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

RUDE & NUDE

A group of neighbours from Wrangle, Lincs were told by the police to install surveillance cameras in order to gather evidence about ongoing harassment by their neighbours from hell. When the bad guys next door noticed the camera you would think their behaviour would improve, instead it got worse. Along with installing their own camera, parading around their yard wearing sandwich boards, and throwing rocks over the fence those in attendance at the courthouse today were treated to videotaped evidence of the couple simulating sex on the hood of their car and exposing themselves.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

NEIGHBOUR HEADLINES

Story out of Yorkshire about a family who was forced to live in a camper after their home was destroyed by a flood. What makes this interesting is they are now being sued by their neighbour who claims they ruined his view. The repairs to their home took over nine months to complete and during that time the family lived in a trailer provided by their insurance company. It apparently blocked the neighbours view of his garden.

On this side of the pond a couple in Lewisville, Texas are upset that their neighbour, who is an avid hunter, has been butchering his game in the back yard. They claim they are only looking for "respect" and would never slaughter a cow in their back yard so they don't see why their neighbour can slaughter a deer or a wild boar. Do they expect him to do it in the kitchen? The Police and even State Game Wardens have investigated and no charges have been laid. Authorities dismiss the complaints a a simple clash of suburban and rural lifestyles.

Monday, March 02, 2009

NEIGHBOUR MAILBAG

Dave from Spokane sent in some great photos of the damage his stupid neighbour did when trying to remove icicles from his gutters with a large hammer. The question now is if he:

1) Tries to reinstall the destroyed gutter
2) Does nothing and lets his roof slowly rot over the next couple years
3) Hire someone to install a new gutter (who am I kidding?)





Monday, February 23, 2009

CARPE DO OVER !!!


I heard recently about something being called Do Over Day, a new day where we can all revisit and or repair significant moments of our lives. Details are available on the official Do Over Day Website and the Facebook Group.

Some people believe the worst thing you can say in your life is "If only I could live it over again". They would like you to believe that you should live your life so as to have no regrets. Personally I don't buy into this philosophy. We all have, and will have, regrets based on how our experiences shape us as individuals. It is a natural part of our spiritual growth. For example, I have plenty of regrets about things I've done in the past but at the same time I recognize that the life lessons I learned from these mistakes have made me the person I am today. Not having made that mistake or those choices wouldn't have taught me the corresponding lesson, and as such I would not be the person I am today. This is why the idea that you could go back and relive your life is so dangerous. If you didn't take with you the memories of what you felt went "wrong" the first time you would just end up making the same mistakes again.

Not all mistakes fall into the above category obviously. I remember one drunken night thinking it would be a good idea to hang out the window of a school bus driving down the 401 Highway so I could shake the hand of a guy driving in a car next to the bus. Pretty @#$%ing stupid and I'm pretty sure I didn't learn anything from the experience other then I was lucky to be alive and lucky that the guy holding onto my legs wasn't as drunk as I was.

The Do Over Day website has a bulletin board where you can post your regret stories, send e-cards, upload videos and generally connect with others.

Realistically one of my bigger regrets is not taking University more seriously. Not that I have some dream about that translating into having a better job or more money today. For all I know I would end up in the exact same career. When I think back I just remember being lucky enough to have had some very talented Professors, and I guess I regret just not actually showing up to class in order to interact with them more often.

Monday, February 16, 2009

THAMESVILLE FLOOD OF 2009

I got a call Sunday morning from my neighbour across the street giving me the heads up that he had a foot of water in his basement and it was rising fast. I had seen on the news the night before that flooding had been expected due to some very mild weather and the amount of snow we have had this winter. To be honest I assumed we were far enough from the river that there would be little impact on my street.

I had noticed the day before a small creek that runs one block over had overflowed its banks and was flooding the backyards of the houses on the street. The Thames River itself, which runs along the East end of town about 1/2 km from my house had flooded its banks as well. The roads and bridges were still passable, but not by much. According to the weather reports the water was 17 feet above normal levels, which is just 3 feet short of the record around these parts, the "Great Flood of 1937". The link takes you to a picture gallery available at The Virtual Museum website.


The more I think about it, we are pretty much due for another one of those. I check out the basement and sure enough, it is submerged in about 6 inches of water and rising fast. For a short period of time I was down there with my wet-dry ShopVac, which was a bit like trying to bail out the Titanic with a teacup. Within the hour my father-in-law showed up with a pump rented from a hardware store about 20 minutes away. Within a couple hours the basement was empty but the water was still coming. Later that afternoon I started to get worried again, as the water was rising faster then the pump could get it out. We seemed to gain the upper hand in the early evening, and today I can thankfully say the basement is if not dry, at least no longer flooded.

I don't have a finished basement thankfully, but I will likely need to replace some drywall and insulation or risk mould. My wife cleaned out the ruined stuff today while I was at work, basically a pickup truck full of junk that wasn't worth much. Old paperback novels (Heinlein, Asimov, etc.) and boxes of old University textbooks that I didn't even read when I was in University. A couple boxes of old shoes and clothes that don't fit and assorted boxes of crap that for some reason I never got around to throwing out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

STUPID NEIGHBOUR MAILBAG

Whiteroses Writes:

I'd lived peacefully in my home and neighborhood for 16 years before a new truly dysfunctional family moved in next door. They've done horrible things since moving in. They trampled and sprayed weed killer on my annuals, scratched up my car parked in my driveway, put holes in my tires, and recently it appears they tried to break my car window.

I've reported them repeatedly to the police, who claim they will do extra patrols on my block, but I have yet to see anyone. My neighbors apparently are unhappy with me because I asked them to trim back a tree that was leaning on my house. It was so far on my property I was told I could legally cut it down. Only the roots and the trunk are on their property. I didn't cut it down, just cut it back because I like trees much more than I like my neighbors.

The family also is most upset that I insist they pick up their dog's poop. They walk the dog over in front of my house everyday and encourage it to poop on my yard, the sidewalk in front or on the strip of grass in front of my house. There is an ordinance that requires them to scoop it, but they refuse. I've reported them several times after witnessing this transgression, but again the police could care less. The last time I insisted that the male of the home pick up after his dog, he ran up on my property and threatened to beat me, a woman. I had been doing yard work and had a small shovel in my hand. I threatened to beat him with the shovel if he didn't leave my property immediately. I had to raise the shovel to make him leave. He stood on his property for five minutes and shouted obscenities at me while I continued to clean up my yard. I finally called the useless cops and they of course did nothing about it. If the neighbor kills me, I guess that might warrant some action.

I live alone and feel this family of 8, including a juvenile delinquent, feels completely at ease walking on my property to reach their cars on the street, letting their animal defecate, etc. They are walking all over me, but I have no recourse except to sell my home. This was supposed be my retirement home and the last of my family has moved out of state. I refuse to bring friends into this mess, although I've asked my neighbors to look out for me. They swear they've seen nothing. I'm not happy. But all I can do is vent. This horribly ignorant family has yet to be held accountable for their actions. Anyone have any solutions short of hiring a guard dog?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

NEIGHBOURHOOD GROCERY

Interesting story regarding the price of groceries in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood of Toronto. For those who don't know this is one of the more "economically challenged" areas of Toronto. While being far from a ghetto it has a reputation as a high crime area, home to many recent immigrants, and has lots of families living on social assistance.

You would think therefore that groceries would be cheaper then in more well-to-do areas of town, but in fact a recent study showed that prices for staples (bread, milk, flour, rice, beans, etc.) was higher in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood then anywhere else in Toronto.

The biggest reason for this is that the major chains have long since pulled out, leaving only smaller chains or independents to fill the void. They lack the wholesale purchasing power of the likes of Sobey's and Loblaw's which control the Canadian grocery marketplace.

Making the situation even worse is that studies have shown that one of the biggest challenges for people living on social assistance is that they lack basic cooking skills. They end up spending what little money they do have on pre-packaged foods that are lower in nutrition, higher in fat, and much higher in price then what they could prepare themselves.

British Chef Jamie Oliver has talked about this frequently on several of his television shows and in his books. For the price of a single meal for a family of 4 at McDonalds you can purchase fresh vegetables, rice or potatoes, a budget cut of meat and feed the same family of 4 for several days. Personally I credit Oliver for if not teaching me how to cook and least giving me enough basic skills and confidence to fumble around in the kitchen and occassionally produce something special. I learned from Jamie that the secret to cooking is 3 simple things:

1) Fresh Ingredients
2) Fresh Herbs
3) Olive Oil (and lots of it)

You stick to the above three basics and you pretty much can't go wrong unless you either burn or undercook whatever it is you are making.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

MORE FROM THE NANNY STATE

A misguided proposal to ban the use of wood-burning stoves is gathering steam in the Canadian city of Montreal. A proposed city bylaw who prohibit the installation of wood burning stoves in any new residence and give citizens around 7 years to convert existing wood fireplaces to natural gas. The bylaw would become the strictest in the nation but does contain exemptions for commercial establishments to allow for things like wood-fired stoves at restaurants or one of Montreal's famous bagel bakeries.

While I don't dispute that the city has its heart in the right place, they are clearly basing their decisions on both faulty logic and poor science. The fact that old-style fireplaces and stoves are inefficient forms of heating is well known, however recent technological advances in wood-fired stoves make them one of the most ecologically sound choices for heating your home.

Modern, two-stage wood stoves are actually a greener and can be an even cheaper energy source then natural gas, especially for those who live in a rural area or who have access to their own wood lot. Those in urban areas may not see a significant cost savings but should not be fooled by propaganda funded by municipal utility companies that have a vested interest in keeping us dependent on thier grid. The Canadian Wood Heat Association has a great website that is packed with information for anybody interested in the benefits of heating with wood or for someone who is hoping to stand up against city hall.

The government points to studies about the huge amount of pollution caused by burning wood for heat. These studies are flawed because they include the pollution of fireplaces, as if they are comparing apples to apples. Everybody knows fireplaces look great but really don't heat the home, as the bulk of heat is lost up the chimney and they produce significant pollution and particulate discharge due to how the wood burns.

If Montreal was smart they could simply outlaw the installation of old-fashioned wood fireplaces and mandate that any wood-stoves installed in homes be of the high efficiency variety, specifically stoves that are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as "low-emission". The stoves that carry this approval burn 1/3 as much wood to produce the same heat as a standard wood stove and produce virtually no smoke. Nearly every major manufacturer builds models that meet this standard in a variety of styles and a price point for every budget.