Saturday, January 31, 2009


File this one under 'Mind Your Own Business'. Several residents of a community in Bristol have been spending their free time protesting in front of the house of a neighbour when it became known that he was running a pornography studio. Police have confirmed the man is breaking no laws, but the protests continue. The owner of the porn studio is claiming his health is being impacted by the stress and that he fears for his safety due to threats of violence. There has been no incidents of neighbours accidentally seeing something that offends them other then a run in with the authorities over something that occurred in the garden 2 years ago (No more outdoor scenes apparently).

Used to be that porn was made in either Eastern Europe or Porno Valley, California. In our 21st Century Digital Age anybody with a computer and a high speed Internet connection can be an online smut peddler. You don't need to know anything about computers or even photography or video techniques, the only thing you need is a willing subject to immortalize (or sodomize).

I would suspect we will see more and more of these sorts of neighbourhood disputes. Not necessarily porn specific, but due to so many professionals being able to work and conduct business in a virtual environment.

Frankly if we truly wish to save our planet from ecological catastrophe one of the best ways will be to have more people working from home and passing zoning laws that will allow for this to be expanded. Commuting to and from work is the #1 source of carbon emissions for citizens of the Industrial world.


In the interest of wasting time on the Internets today. I can't remember what season this was from, but it starts out with Homer singing "Everybody in the USA, hates their stupid neighbour..."

Another cool time waster I discovered today is the site Passive-Aggressive Notes. Neighbour conflicts often results in notes or letters back and forth, and they have many very funny examples. It makes me want to write a note just so I can take a picture and upload it to the site.

I remember as a child living in California our neighbour from across the street used to mail my parents a letter every 2-3 months that always started with "Dear Neighbour" and went on to complain about the lack of general upkeep on our front garden/lawn. I should mention this was at the height of one of the biggest droughts the state had ever seen. It was forbidden to fill up backyard pools at this point (and thus skateboarding was changed forever) and at my school they were practically promoting that we not wash our hands after using the bathroom. Of course, the world could be ending, and this guy across the street would still make sure his sprinklers came on every day at 6am sharp and then washed and polished his Porsche in his driveway every night when returning from work.


Performed a bit of a re-design today in an attempt to make the site look cleaner. Also removed most of the ads (that were not making any money anyway). Kept Google Adsense because I just like Google even though I'm not making any significant money off of them (unless you call around $1 a week significant). Going to try to work with the Amazon Affiliates program a bit, more because I think I can properly target ads that people may find useful (Home Improvement, Renovation, Real Estate, Gardening) instead of any attempt to actually make money.

No neighbour related post today (at least not yet). Rough week at work and I missed posting on Friday. On the way home I stopped to pick up some beer and then pretty much just passed out in front of the television. I'm a big fan of craft brews, and go out of my way to try something new most of the time. Also a big fan of English Ale or any beer with a strong taste/flavor. I could say I hate American beer but that oversimplifies it, because I hate most Canadian mainstream beer as well.

So anyway I found something that caught my eye on the shelf and have not tried it before, so I picked up a selection of brews from the Black Sheep Brewing Company out of Yorkshire. I picked up some bottles of their Monthy Python's Holy Grail Ale. The label that reads "Tempered over burning Witches" is what really caught my eye. Also picked up a couple bottles of the Black Sheep Ale, and the Riggwelter Ale. Enjoyed them all quite a bit and will purchase them again for sure.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A common source of friction in a neighbourhood is the process of gentrification, loosly defined as the moving of affluent individuals into a lower-class area. The process can transform a neighbourhood in just a few short years, but normally the process takes about a decade or more to really have an impact.

I experienced it first hand when living in the artist lofts of Toronto's West End. In the late 1980's and early 1990's there were dozens and dozens of these buildings, normally old factories, usually within walking distance to the ultra-hip Queen St. West. Most of them were not zoned as residential, so living in them had its own benefits and drawbacks. Much depended on the landlord, and some were better then others. Heat was often a luxury. You had to be ready to fool building inspectors (beds that were hidden and keeping lots of paint and canvas scattered around your "studio" were two common tricks) with short notice.

I lived in one where the worst thing that could happen would be for the landlord to realize you had done significant improvements to the space. There were more then a few examples in that building of folks who had recently refinished a hardwood floor or renovated a bathroom to suddently find themselves evicted and the space available at an increased rent.

When my wife and I (fresh out of University) moved into our first loft on Sorauren Ave we were in among a complex of 4 buildings next to a large empty lot near the railway tracks. Prostitutes and drug addicts were a common occurance at night. The nearest main street, Roncesvalles, was known as "Little Poland" and contained a few greasy spoon restaurants and several delis and that was about it.

When we left nearly a decade later 3 of the 4 loft buildings had been converted to luxury condos and the artists chased out. The empty lot was a beautiful city park. Roncesvalles still had the same nickname but the street now sported a Starbucks, a jazz club, several nice restaurants, a groovy used record store, and some high end home furnishing/design stores. Houses in the area that went for $250,000 when we first moved there were going for $500,000-$750,000.

Where it used to be all bohemians and pensioners you now had young families pushing prams. Actually most of the young families were probably the same folks who were bohemians earlier on. It is almost inevitable that you have conflicts between the old guard and the new residents, and these battles are based on the common lines of race, class, and age.

My wife and I couldn't afford the neighbourhood when it came time to buy our first home, so we moved to the Corso Italia neighbourhood in Toronto (St. Clair and Dufferin area). The same thing is happening there now. We bought our house there for under $200,000 in 2000 and sold it for $240,000 only 2 years later. Today it would sell for almost twice that.

Which brings me to a story today I stumbled upon. Seems that gentrification has taken a new twist in Germany. The population there is aging you see, and these folks are cranky. An old neighbourhood, in the process of gentrification, has seen many young families move in. Young families need daycare in this 21st century world where you need both parents working to make ends meet. Daycares make noise. Most folks tolerate the noise, after all, everybody loves kids and daycares only make noise during the day (no loud keg parties on a Friday night). Well apparently not everybody loves kids, because some folks in Germany decided to sue their local daycare over the noise. The case is now before the highest court in the land.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Story out of the U.K. today about an old man who was trapped under his sofa for three days. Apparently during a power outage the man was disoriented and stumbled over his sofa, which then proceeded to tip over, trapping him underneath. Unable to free himself, he remained there for nearly 3 days, until a neighbour who was worried that he had not been heard from, peeked in the window. The man claims he survived by drinking whiskey from a bottle that luckily was within reach when he found himself trapped. I am just wondering how he was able to relieve himself during the duration of his ordeal.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Neighbourhoods in the vicinity of University campuses are often ground zero for 'Student vs Resident' battles over noise and garbage, general upkeep of properties, safety, etc. The stories normally flare up twice a year, first during Frosh week and again after final exams. Some schools do more then others to build bridges among the community.

One such example is the University of Edinburgh, where the students association is investing some cash to put together a 'Good Neighbour Guide' for its students. Now this specific example seems like a waste of money, what research really needs to be done? It is all quite basic stuff:

1. No garbage on the curb except on garbage day
2. Loud parties on the weekend are fine, just clean up after yourself and try to wind things down (at least move from the porch to inside) after 1am.
3. When you move out arrange for pickup of large items left behind. Nothing worse then old sofas and other such rubbish left on the front lawn.

Some things that the locals need to remember about students:

1. You were young once, so give the kids a break.
2. If you didn't have students you could have crackheads living next door. Consider yourself lucky.
3. They probably don't OWN the necessary tools and equipment to do simple things like maintain a lawn or repair a screen door, so ofter to help or loan the necessary tools, instead of just complaining.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Minneapolis, Minnesota - Its a true Hatfield's vs The McCoy's style fued in the posh Minneapolis neighbourhood of Lowry Hill. The vandalism has escalated over the last few days and culminated with bricks thrown thru a front window and one neighbour facing 9 criminal charges. The conflict started when Barbara and Jim Fogel made some complaints to local authorities about a business being run out of their neighbour's McMansion across the street. What exactly was he running? Not a private sex club, like 'The Cherry Pit', which if you will recall was a big story in 2007 that got some media attention. It was also not an underground gambling operation. In fact nobody is quite sure what the business was, but the news story references the possibly running a "marketing" or "construction" business.

Considering the technology of the 21st century, either such business (marketing and construction that is not sex clubs and gambling) could easily be run out of a residential home with zero impact on any neighbours. So it sounds to me like the Fogel's are the kind of jerks who probably complain about dead grass during a drought.

If they had any real class they wouldn't have bought a McMansion in the first place. If you really have money, you should have enough to buy a multi-acre lot that matches the size of the house, instead of another oversized cookie-cutter house on a too-small lot surrounded by other oversized cookie-cutter houses on too-small lots.

Now, I clearly know nothing about what really happened between these neighbours, and throwing a brick thru the Fogel's front window is clearly unacceptable behaviour, but sometimes mindless revenge just tastes too sweet to resist.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


No post last night. I arrived home from work at just after 7pm to a dark house. Entire town was dark actually. The power stayed out until after 11pm and by then I was asleep. I learned today that apparently somebody drove off the road and smashed up something that clearly was important, not sure what it was, but the car damaged it enough to keep power offline for 4 hours.

Provided some free tech support today at a local gift/flower shop. The power surge had left their computer fubar. Hard to say what happened, but the stupid thing won't boot. Just gets to the screen saying it didn't shut down properly and asks if you want regular, safe mode, or command prompt only. No matter what you choose it just loops back to that screen. I didn't have time or extra parts to figure it out for sure. Just pulled out the tower and put another one in its place (owner just bought her daughter a new computer so had this one as a spare), set everything up, made sure the internet was working and went on my way.

Wife and I left the kids at her parents for the night and drove into the city for a "date night". We didn't really do anything. Just enjoyed some time without the kids. Had a nice dinner at a restaurant with plates that is also not a chain. I @#$%^& hate those places. Chain restaurants that is. Kelsey's, Milestones, Canyon Creek, Timbers, Outback, The Keg, Casey's, Moxie's, East Side Mario's, Jack Astor's, Lone Star, Crabby Joe's, etc. etc. and etc. They are all the same.

Crap food that tries to make up for the crap food with overexuberant wait staff. If you have seen the 1995 movie Office Space, you know what I am talking about when I say "Chotchkie's". An earlier pop culture reference would be the 1995 (S07E04) episode of the The Simpsons where Mo Sizlack turns his bar into a family restaurant by putting "a whole bunch of crazy crap on the walls".

We ended up at some little Eastern European restaurant named Marienbad which is connected to a pub named Chaucer's. Great prices, big portions, over 100 varieties of beer, mostly regular customers (wait staff knew people by name). Started with a antipasto platter and the wife had mussels in a white wine sauce. Mains were Prime Rib for the lady and I had a plate of traditional sausages and 'kraut. Strudel, crepes and some good coffee ended the meal. I've walked by this place dozens of times (it is about a block from my office) and never been inside. I will definately be back.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I live in a pretty small town. Very small to be exact. Population about 900. Its a rural community surrounded by farms. Corn, sugar beets, and tomatoes are the big crops around here. I buy my beef direct from a farmer and have it cut to order at a local abattoir. We can buy fruits, vegetables, etc. direct from the farmer and roadside or front yard stalls.

I leave my garage unlocked. Technically I don't even have a lock on my garage door. I rarely even remember to lock my car, much less my house unless we are actually going out.

We have a local newspaper out here, one of those little rural community papers that every little rural community has. You buy it for the simple fact that the publisher keeps track of who buys it and I think they make a point of getting pictures of your kids in it now and then as a show of thanks. You can read about the local kids hockey league, that the Legion is having an all-you-can-eat lake perch dinner on Friday, and at least one story each week about how "big city folk" don't respect or understand us "rural folk".

You also get the local "crime" section. When I lived in Toronto there was crime, but even living where I did, and I lived in some bad parts of town including the notorious Jane-Finch corridor and Parkdale, I always felt that trouble only finds you when you are looking for trouble. Out here, you simply don't have violent crime unless it is of the domestic variety, and this section of the newspaper is usually a couple stories about how somebody was arrested for drunk driving or a window was broken.

Today there were about a dozen stories about garages being broken into all over town. I immediately starting thinking I should probably put a lock on my garage door. This irrational fear overcame me, even though I really have nothing valuable in my garage except a couple empty cases of beer and my lawnmower.

Then I thought a bit more and decided that having my lawnmower stolen would probably be a good thing. I could get a nice shiny new one in the spring.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Normally its the environmentalists that are try to stop the cutting down of trees to make way for a new housing development. This time it is the exact opposite. A neighbourhood in New Zealand is banning together to stop the planned cutting of several large oak trees to make way for a small subdivision. The catch is that the subdivision is being financed by a trust fund controlled the family of a prominant local environmentalist.

It is not unusual for someone to get upset when their neighbours pet gets loose and ends up on their property. This was especially true in Kerr County, Texas today as the loose pet wasn't a dog but a 600 lb Bengal Tiger. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and this goes for pets as well.

In other news, Jackass Neighbours, is a cool new site that you should probably check out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Strange story hit the airwaves yesterday about William Ayres, former member of 60's radical group The Weather Underground, being denied entry into Canada based on his 1969 conviction related to an anti-war demonstration.

William Ayres has visited Canada more then a dozen times since 1969. The 60's radical of the past is now a distinguished professor, champion for education reform, and best-selling author. He also makes good $$$ on the public speaking circuit, which is where he was heading before being denied entry by some dull-witted Canadian border guard.

During the recent American election campaign the Republicans repeatedly tried to paint Obama as a terrorist due to his (very flimsy) relationship to Ayres. No doubt Paul Blart Border Cop had seen a couple speeches by Sarah Palin and decided that a University professor who protested against the Vietnam war nearly 40 years ago was a grave threat to our national security.

This isn't the first time that Canadian border patrol seem to make things up as they go along. There were a couple high profile cases of censorship back in the 80's and 90's, mostly based upon the seizure of books and magazines destined for gay and lesbian-focused bookstores in Toronto and Vancouver. Those cases went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Canada Customs walked away looking like the pack of closed minded and arbitrary decision making fools that they are.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I stumbled across this interesting story in the Calgary Sun and it paints what is becoming a more common scene during the current economic downturn. It is one thing to deal with a neighbour who is blasting music late into the night but as more and more houses are being abandoned because of the real estate collapse, sometimes the worst neighbour is none at all.

Its not just about uncleared sidewalks or unkept lawns and gardens, you also need to worry about squatters and vagrants moving in and the risks they bring with them (risk of arson, drug crime, etc.)

I also recently saw a TV news piece on the battle against West Nile virus in Southern California. The increasing number of abandoned homes with swimming pools has created a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitos that carry this deadly disease, this report by the CDC paints a bleak picture of the situation. This isn't just in California, as the same pattern has been reported from Florida to New York to Seattle.

There is one plus side. Abandoned homes and their empty swimming pools have become fertile ground for the latest generation of skateboarders, eager to live their own Lords of Dogtown dreams.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Received an email from my sister. The weekend clean/purge of my parents house went slower then expected. They have already filled an 18 cubic yard container and have only completed the living room, stairs, and front foyer/hallway. A fresh dumpster is arriving on Monday and the task will continue.

I spent the weekend watching movies:

RocknRolla - The latest Guy Ritchie flick. Like all his movies it revolves around British gangsters, strange coincidences, and unexpected plot twists. I enjoyed this just as much as anything of his I have seen previously and the ending appears to set everything up for a nice sequel.

Taken - Liam Neeson stars as a retired CIA agent whos daughter is kidnapped and sold into sex slavery by Albanian mobsters while backpacking around Europe. He uses all the skills in his vast arsenal to hunt down and destroy the entire gang and exact sweet revenge. Pretty good film.

Appaloosa - This is a Western starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, two hired guns who show up in the frontier town of Appaloosa to bring justice to an evil rancher, played by Jeremy Irons. As far as post-Unforgiven Westerns go it was no 3:10 To Yuma but not nearly as boring as The Assassination of Jesse James.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


For fear of upsetting the wife I am not going to say anything about this story regarding the parking skills, or lack thereof, of a woman in the U.K.

Update: She read the post and has forced me to mention that in the time we have known each other (almost 19 years) she has only been in one fender bender while I have totaled one car and ended up spun around and stuck in a deep ditch beside the highway on two occassions.

Friday, January 16, 2009


So my parents left on a one month vacation the other day. My future brother-in-law decided that over the next 30 days he was going to clean their house. This is a bigger deal then you may realize, because my parents are compulsive hoarders.

As a child I used to think that our family was weird but I guess everybody thinks that. What I mean is that I didn't realize other families had the same issue. I never had friends over to my house for example. It simply wasn't possible, mostly due to the shame and embarrassment of having someone other then family see how we lived.

Its not like as children my brother and sisters didn't try. There were countless times we cleaned the house top to bottom, only to have it return to its state of chaos in a matter of days. My mom would hit the newly cleaned house like a whirlwind. Clearly it was a psychological thing that she couldn't explain or understand. I think the end came when I was 17. My brother and I had just cleaned the entire basement, every book on a shelf, every box stacked, etc. We came home from school to find books scattered all over the floor of the basement. Entire shelves we had organized dumped with the swoop of an arm. My mom claimed to be looking for a particular Needlepoint book and was upset that we had "moved it" so she couldn't find it.

I moved out at 19 and never went back.

So Kevin and my sister showed up at the house last night with a video camera. He and my sister have a house and kid together, are getting married next year, and he had never seen my parents house. My sister moved out a couple years ago and claimed things have gotten worse then she could imagine. They found seven (7) Monopoly board games. You could never get a more blatant example of hoarding then that, I mean how many copies of Monopoly do you really need? They were probably on sale.

So they now have rented a dumpster which is sitting in the driveway and Kevin is spending time there every day after work throwing things out. They figure they may need multiple dumpsters.

The real problem is hoarding is an illness, and most experts believe cleaning a hoarders house without their permission is not treatment. The behaviour will continue and the house will just fill up again. Regardless I still think this needs to be done. My parents are pushing 70 and one of them could easily be injured due to all the junk in their house.

Now some hoarders have rotting food and stuff all over their house that is very unhealthy (imagine animal hoarders with dozens of cats and unchanged litter boxes). My parents are different. They hoard things that should be thrown out when the usefulness is done. Newspapers and magazines are prime examples. The last time I visited was in 2000 and I was in their living room looking around at the garbage and I had grabbed a garbage bag and was trying to make a dent in the mountain. I found newspapers from 1996. They literally had 4 years worth of newspapers stacked in their living room.

Oprah did an episode on hoarders about 8 months ago and prior to seeing that I really thought I was alone. Watching the families that afternoon I realized that in fact my parents were not pigs but were suffering from a mental illness similar to OCD.

Just doing some research for this post I stumbled across a number of resources on the web.

CHILDREN OF HOARDERS - A resource group for adult children of hoarders

CLUTTER HOARDING SCALE - For ranking the seriousness of the hoarding. My parents are only L2. Provided by the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization

HOARDERS.ORG - Internet Guide for Extreme Hoarding

Living like this as a child has had definite impacts on my life as an adult. My wife can tell you all about it. I'm not a clean freak by any means, but I am a tidy freak. If I come home from work I need to tidy up the kitchen before I can eat. Dirty dishes or garbage on the counter, loose papers, toys scattered around the floor, etc. I cannot ignore. I'll spent 30 minutes cleaning the kitchen before I can even consider heating up my dinner. A pile of dishes in the sink doesn't bother me, but dishes, crumbs or stains on the counter are a huge pet peeve. Clutter around the bathroom sink is another big one. I'm constantly putting hair dryers, brushes, and other assorted objects back into drawers or back under the sink.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Melbourne, Australia - A young family owes their life to their next door neighbour today after their house caught fire early yesterday morning. When he realized his neighbours were in danger the man grabbed his garden hose and held the flames at bay long enough for the family to escape. Clearly this would be an heroic story, but there is a twist. What makes this incident special is when the man woke at 6am and realized what was happening, he had rushed outside without even stopping to put on clothes. No charges were laid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I stumbled across this interesting story out of Malaysia. In the town of Nilai the local council has passed a bylaw that requires the permission of your neighbour in order to keep a dog as a pet. The law also defines the number of dogs you may own based on the square footage of your property.

Now if you think that is strange, how about this story about a guy in California who sold his daughter into slavery (arranged marriage actually... close enough) in exchange for beer, some choice cuts of meat, and $16,000 cash.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


One of the Directors at my company resigned today. I think he lasted about 4 months, give or take a week. It made for a strange afternoon. Lots of phone calls that you were not allowed to talk about until everybody got their personal phone call. People talking anyway, asking if you "got the phone call" yet. I never had much of a problem with him, and thought he had as many good ideas as could be expected from someone in our industry who holds the title of Director.

He was brought in mid-Summer, and for a time it seemed he was really positioned as some kind of saviour. When talking to some of my peers however, they were all happy to see him leave, which I didn't understand. Sure he sent a lot of redundant emails, but I don't think that was a personal habit of his. I think he got sucked into our unwritten corporate policy regarding constant, useless, and redundant emails. He wasn't perfect, but he was no Bill Lumberg either.

Frankly my biggest worry is who or what might replace him. That old saying about "The Devil you know..." I guess the one plus in this horrid economy is that we should be able to find an unemployed Director easy enough.

As for me, I'll just keep on keepin' on.

Monday, January 12, 2009


When I was younger I used to think there was something cool about living fast and dying young. For myself personally this view was probably influenced less by the premature deaths of Hendrix, James Dean or Marilyn and more by that immortal line from the movie Highlander when Kurgan screams "I got something to say, it's better to burn out then to fade away". I know that the line is really from a song, but I honestly believe Kurt Cobain was referencing Highlander as much as he was Neil Young in his suicide note.

The older I get the more I come to realize that my best years are still ahead of me. I honestly can't wait for my 40's. After all, my 30's were exponentially better then my 20's, which were exponentially better then being a teenager. This view is reinforced on a daily basis in the world all around me. Just a few years ago critics claimed Mickey Rourke's career was over, and last night he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a drama for his role in the critically acclaimed film The Wrestler.

The same goes for Bruce Springsteen. I can honestly admit I was never a fan of his earlier work but I became a fan after hearing his 2006 release We Shall Overcome. His latest release, Working on a Dream, is nothing less then a masterpiece, and his title track for The Wrestler also won him a Golden Globe last night for best original song.

Clint Eastwood just keeps getting better with age. When he directed 1992's Unforgiven it was widely acclaimed as the best western ever made. He followed that up with instant classics like Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima and everybody thought he would never be able to do anything better. Then he goes off and presents us with the awesomeness that is Gran Torino.

So I will end this post with a favourite quote of mine from the liner notes from the 1993 release of a classic, and mostly forgotten, Toronto band known as Dinner Is Ruined.

"Old is good, old is wise
fuck youth culture lies"

The quote, which I can't completely remember right now went on to tell you to turn off your computer and go outside, take your bike for a ride, kiss someone you love, and enjoy the sunshine (or something along those lines... pretty good advice regardless of your age).

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I stumbled across a great article on the CNN website that details 15 reasons why Mr. Rogers was the BEST NEIGHBOUR EVER. Who cares if it was from July of last year.

Funny thing is, in this day and age of media-promoted fear, anybody with an overly friendly neighbour like Fred Rogers, would probably suspect him of being a pervert.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Today I went upstairs to wake my 2-year old daughter from her afternoon nap and opened the door to her room to a site that I can only describe as... well lets just say words fail to describe. You see, my daughter is very close to becoming potty trained. She is at the stage where she REALLY does not like being wet or dirty (so to speak). She is peeing in the toilet every day, the challenge right now is the pooping.

Like I said, she doesn't like being dirty, so when she does fill her diaper she has a tendancy to hide from her mother and I and then take off the poopy diaper. If the kid disappears suddenly we know we need to find her QUICK because depending on the liquidity of the poop, we could have a pretty big mess on our hands.

So that is what happened this afternoon. My daughter woke up from her nap, soiled herself, and decided to take the diaper off. Then she decided to paint the wall behind her crib with the contents of her diaper. The finished product was a bit like a Jackson Pollock, except not as colorful.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I've been sitting and starting at this blank screen for about an hour now, TV in the background, occassionally opening a new tab and logging into Facebook or checking out Digg. I'm completely at a loss to write anything tonight. One thing for sure I am damn glad it is Friday. Not that my weekends are truly weekends. Does anybody really have weekends anymore?

The Blackberry keeps me focused on the office and the job even when its not vibrating or beeping. I start twitching if I don't pick it up at regular intervals and check to see if I have an important email. If something is going wrong I can't just ignore the situation (or trust that those working will have the responsibility to handle) I need to get involved.

So my weekends seem less and less like weekends and more just like days I'm working from home. If I make a conscious attempt to ignore the Blackberry all that happens on Monday is I have more work to catch up on.

There are countless websites out there designed to help you balance the work and personal spheres of your life, achieve happiness, peace, etc. and I do read them on a regular basis. Actually implementing any of their suggestions? No yet but perhaps one day...

Two of my favourites are Think Simple Now and Dumb Little Man. I think I'll go read them now... if I am lucky I can focus on some of their tips for at least the next 48 hours.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Parking is a common source of neighbour complaints. We are more likely to own multiple cars then in the past, and combine that with garages more often being used as storage, parking is a valuable commodity. Robert Kane of Scranton, Pennsylvania was upset that a neighbour parked in front of his house. So upset in fact that when it happened the first time he warned his neighbour that he was crazy and that you wouldn't want to see him angry. When a visitors car was parked in front of Kane's house a month later he went off the deep end. Police arrived to find Kane's neighbours escaping out the back door, while Kane was attempting to cut thru the front door with a chainsaw. He faces up to 37 years in prison.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The wife got mad at me tonight. I deserved it. She told me not to have another drink and I tried to sneak one. Is that one of the signs of being an alcoholic? Sneaking a drink? (Check) Drinking alone? (Check) Drinking to forget your problems? (Check).

Perhaps I do have a problem. I'm not sure. I don't think I drink excessively. I do have 2-3 drinks every night. I do this for a couple reasons. More accurately, I have a couple excuses. The first is that my job is pretty stressful right now. By "right now" I mean all the fucking time.

I don't think I really drink to forget my problems. I definately drink to relax, or to wind down, or whatever. I rarely drink to the point that I stumble around or anything like that. Its also not like I drink in the morning, or at lunch or anything crazy like that. I work long hours in a soul-crushing job straight out of Office Space and when I get home, like Peter Gibbons, I sit in front of my TV and have 2-3 beers.

Is that really a bad thing?

I drink more now then I did when I was younger. Well, college was different, but I used to drink less frequently but when I did I would drink until I was a stumbling idiot asshole. Now, like I mentioned above, I drink less but more often. Not sure the significance of this but it is what it is.

I know I have a bit of an addictive personality. Perhaps I should take a break. It reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Marge makes Homer promise that he will drink "no beer for a month" and he says "OK... no deer for a month".

I'm not about to say no deer for a month, but I'll try the rest of this week and see how it goes.

In other news I am currently reading "The Year of Living Biblically" by AJ Abrahms. Pretty good book, and not what I expected. Basically the author did his best to live by the rules of the Bible literally for a year. Pretty funny stuff actually.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Last night on The Daily Show, John Stewart dared to question the mainstream media reporting of Israel as the "victim" who has been "forced" to act by Hamas "aggression" with regards to the current ground invasion of Gaza.

Today, he is under attack. The Comedy Central comment page is covered with Anti-Stewart rants, most likely written by folks who didn't even see the episode or are regular viewers. The usual suspects like FauxNews obviously are calling for his head on a silver platter.

Frankly, I didn't think he went far enough, but you can judge for yourself. Full episode available online via The Daily Show webpage, and the episode will also be repeated tonight and again on Saturday.

Lets get serious for a moment. Those Hamas rockets are nothing but toys. I built and fired off larger model rockets as 13 year old kid when I dreamed of growing up to become an astronaut and loved all things related to space. This was coincidentally in the years immediately following the release of that amazing 1983 film The Right Stuff.

I could walk down to the local Home Depot and build the same thing in an afternoon with plans found online. Despite shooting literally hundreds of them into Israel over the last two years they have killed a total of something like 4 people and I think 2 of them died from heart attacks. Israel has killed hundreds of Palestinian women and children over the past week, including the bombing of a school.

Monday, January 05, 2009


A long, long (long) time ago I dressed all in black and hung out at what would be described as "goth" clubs. We didn't call them that at the time, and I never referred to myself as "goth" but whatever. Labels are what you make of them.

So last Saturday, January 3rd, one of the last of the (so called) original "goth" clubs in Toronto closed after 15 years of business. Savage Garden was a fixture on Queen West, including the 12 years I lived in Toronto but I will have to admit I think I may have been there two or three times at the most, and usually didn't stick around for long.

I always found the place rather cheesy. Packed with aging goths who were more interested in preserving their stupid fetish clique. Granted it was not as bad as The Sanctury/Vampire Sex Lounge (which closed years ago and the building now holds a goth-themed Starbucks), but it came pretty close. It was also not nearly as cool as places I used to visit more frequently, including The Anarchist Cocktail or even The Dance Cave (both long since closed).

Personally, I preferred anywhere DJ IAIN was playing (Limelight in the early-90's was an absolute) especially if I was out with my lady and she felt like dancing. Catch-22 wasn't bad either but I was probably there only slightly more frequently then Savage.

My hangout was Sneaky Dee's. Loud and live punk/indy rock upstairs and the cheapest draft in town downstairs. It was the kind of dive bar that was filled with pensioner alcoholics during the day, and then slowly filled with a healthy mix of artists, students, anarchists, punks and freaks as the night went on. I saw EVERYTHING and ANYTHING happen in that bar. From a girl having full-blown group sex in a booth with a dozen people watching to a bar-clearing brawl that turned into a street fight between regulars and a group of Nazi Skinheads who had started to show up more frequently and in greater numbers. Lets just say the Nazi's didn't come back after that night.

To get back to my story about Savage Garden, and more to the point, being "goth", whatever that is. My facebook has been clogged over the last few days with posts from some old friends (and friends of friends) complaining that they couldn't get in to Savage on the last night because it was filled with "kids who were only there to be part of the last night" and not "people who built the scene" or "people I have never seen there before" (getting back to my comments about the place being nothing but a stupid goth clique).

The fact is, dressing all in black and pretending you live in some post-apocalypse world is fun when you are in your 20's. Hell, doing ANYTHING is fun when you are in your 20's, but when you are pushing (or past) 40 it just becomes ironic.

Another honest truth is the LAST thing the owners of Savage Garden wanted on their final night in business would be a bunch of tired and bitter late-30's has-beens who would stand around and complain about the "good ol' days" and then leave early to get home because they had grown-up things to do Sunday morning. They wanted young and hip kids, who would drink their faces off, dance like the world was ending, and then stagger off into the night with a new fuck buddy.

You also don't show up at any "last night" a club is open at 10:30pm and expect to walk right in. You couldn't even do that at Sneaky Dee's back in the day.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


It is now January 4th, and I am only getting around to my first post of the year tonight. Not that I did anything. I had the last 10 days off work and did NOTHING but grow a beard, drink lots of beer, and play hours and hours of FarCry 2.

Of course I am not including in the above spending lots of quality time with the family. My daughter got several board games (Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, etc.) for Christmas so we have been playing. I also watched a few mediocre movies (Quantum of Solace), some really bad movies (The Last Legion) and a couple great movies (The Wackness, Religulous).

So the plan for this blog for 2009 is to expand a bit. I'm just going to write. Write about whatever is on my mind for the day, anything that happened, stupid work stuff, my family, the album I was listening to, the book I am reading, whatever. I'll still post any 'stupid neighbour' stories that land in my lap.

Sure I missed the first 3 days of 2009 but the plan is to post daily from this point for the rest of the year.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pencil Pete writes:

Man! I don't know where to start. But, I think it's best to give you some background. We realized our dream in 1995 by moving from the hustle and bustle of city life to the country. We very carefully pick a town that was voted as one of the most comfortable, rural and affordable in eastern Connecticut. We are flanked by a small working farm and elderly living community, who never annoy us except for garbage days. Juxtaposed to our property is our neighbor from HELL.

He has been arrested for DWI more than twice, also for domestic abuse of his ex-wife and two other girlfriends, one of which he dragged across his driveway on her face. (May I mention she was employed at a battered women's shelter when the incident occurred.) His son was suspended from school for kicking a boy in the balls and telling his KINDERGARDEN teacher to "F&$#" off. He has flipped the family van into a ditch in front of the house and severed his ear when attempting to jump his ATV! He starved and mistreated his dog, which we saved and re-named Lucky. (So far this sounds like a bad Country & Western song - Ca1v1n)

He also has a line of cats that are not neutered and bring many offspring that either starve or are killed by cars. He shot his 500 lb. pig in the bucket of his tractor for all to see, while acuminating junk cars, trucks and machinery in his yard. (Last count: 2 diesel, 3 pick-up trucks and a van) I have witnessed him pour motor oil and anti-freeze into the ground and reported it all to the Town Hall with fear of our wells being contaminated and nothing was done about it.

("I beat my wife, crashed my van, and shot my big ol' pig... my yard is full of junk and filth and 2 ol' diesel rigs")

We love our little house in the country which we poured out heart and souls into it and don't want to move. However, when we did put it up for sale because of him, all comers were concerned about the unsightly neighbor with his menacing stares. Well, I would be the first person to say "live and let live" but, when someone's life style affects my home and way of living I have to say something. When I did, because all the other neighbors are too afraid, he threatened me with violence. Since this confrontation I have not approached him, but most recently I found out that the comings and goings of many strangers have been individuals with violent criminal records. Now I fear for my family with that element in the neighborhood.

This is about 25% of all that has happened with this guy and for the sake of time I will not bore you with all of it. But, I'm at my wits end. I don't want to do anything stupid and hope someone could give me some advice.

At my wits end,