Saturday, January 28, 2012

If you must disturb the peace with your damn snowmobiles, go do it somewhere else!

Whoever decided it would be a good idea to produce snowmobiles that are inexpensive enough to be used for recreational purposes should be shot, after they have been properly tortured.

I completely understand the need for snowmobiles for daily life up north and I know that without snowmobiles many lives would be lost after avalanches and skiing accidents. But there is absolutely no reason that snowmobiles should be used for recreation.

Snowmobiling has got to be the most useless of all recreational sports. It does not benefit the health of the individual, it pollutes, it's noisy and it annoys the folks living close to trails and waterways.

Honestly, I don't understand what happens to normally civilized, well-educated human beings when they park their ass on the back of a snowmobile. Respect and common sense go out the window and they become the most arrogant, stupid creatures on the face of the earth. They have no respect for private property, they blind on-coming drivers with their headlights, they frighten wildlife and they generally behave like a bunch of juvenile delinquents.

I read an article a couple of days ago that mentioned that there have been five fatal snowmobile accidents in Quebec so far this year. Not surprising to me, all five were males over 40 years old. Every winter our news reports contain a smattering of stories about snowmobile drownings, high-speed crashes, fatal accidents caused by snowmobiles crossing highways and the like.

I remember one particularly grisly story many years back about a family of four who went out for a ride on a very cold day, with mom and dad on the snowmobile and the two children being pulled in a sleigh behind. As the parents zoomed around at high speeds having a good time, the children were freezing behind them on the sleigh. The children were screaming for them to stop, but the parents couldn't hear them. When they finally stopped, both of their children's eyes were completely frozen, and they both lost their sight. I have always wondered how that couple managed to live with themselves after doing such a deplorable thing to their precious offspring.

We live out in the cornfields and unfortunately snowmobile clubs in the area make trails through the farmer's fields around here each winter. I don't know if the clubs get permission to make these trails, or if they just do it because like most snowmobilers, they don't consider anything off-limits and they have no respect for anything or anyone.

It only takes one idiot to leave the groomed trail, zoom around our backyard like a maniac, then tear out, full throttle, directly under our bedroom window. Once the snow is broken and that new trail is blazed then every other asshole on a snowmobile has to follow their bad example. Doesn't matter if it's private property, doesn't matter that it's 2am, doesn't matter that we're sleeping. I am so sick and tired of getting torn out of my sleep by snowmobiles on my property, whizzing around with their engines screaming like sewing machines on crack.

I would like to put up signs saying

       PRIVATE PROPERTY

SNOWMOBILES WILL BE USED
     FOR TARGET PRACTICE

 ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK

but I don't like to issue empty threats and apparently it's against the law to shoot at them. It's not against the law for them to ransack my property, to disturb the peace and to pollute so it's pretty obvious who's got the big end of the stick here, right? So much for moving away from the suburbs to get a little peace and quiet.

But wait a minute - hmmm why lookie here - there are rules. Check out this information from the Quebec government site concerning snowmobile operation:

Speed Limit

Unless otherwise indicated, the speed limit for snowmobiles is 70 km/h. The speed limit is reduced to 30 km/h within 30 m of a residence, even if no signs are posted.

Riding Near Inhabited Areas

It is illegal to ride within 30 meters of a dwelling, a health establishment, or an area that is reserved for cultural, educational, or sports activities. However, the Act provides for certain exceptions. Snowmobiles must slow down when approaching one of these locations, and be careful not to make too much noise, especially at night!

Respecting the Environment

Snowmobiling is a privilege. In light of this, it is important that users act in a manner that shows consideration for neighboring residents and the environment. Always be sure to respect neighboring residents, the environment, and wildlife.

Respecting Property Rights

MTQ expects you to obey the law and be civic-minded, and asks you to travel on the trails that are marked and maintained by the clubs in your federation. Unfortunately, snowmobilers do occasionally damage the fences installed by MTQ along road rights-of-way in order to travel off marked trails and operate illegally on public roads. The fences and other installations are there for a reason and are intended to ensure your safety and that of road users.

In addition, you must obtain the owner’s permission to ride on private property. Infractions are subject to a fine of $250 to $500.

source: http://www.mtq.gouv.qc.ca/portal/page/portal/grand_public_en/vehicules_hors_route/securite/motoneige

Well-well, well-well-well. So there are rules! It's just that the majority of snowmobilers around here choose to ignore them. So how do I change that?

I can't. The one thing that the government site doesn't bother to mention is how these rules are enforced. Who exactly can I call at 3 in the morning after I've been ripped out of my sleep by some ignorant, disrespectful rule-breaker? The cops? The last time we called the cops it was because there was a poacher out in the woods in our backyard randomly shooting at anything that moved. First the cop on the phone argued with me that it was probably fireworks...like I am too stupid to know the difference between the sound of fireworks and shotgun shots. Ahem. Then they showed up four hours later, sat in their car in our driveway for 5 minutes and left. If we call them for a snowmobile infraction, by the time they get here the snowmobile will be 300 km away.

Oh well, at least there are 5 less snowmobilers so far this year. I know this sounds heartless, and honestly my condolences go out to their families. But it means there are 5 less nuisances who could, potentially, zoom through my backyard showing off just how badly they can behave.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Listen up people - this is important

I don't know why it started or how long it's been going on. All I know is that I've been hearing it more and more often and it has started driving me crazy. This has got to stop.

It's everywhere on American TV these days although it seems to be most rampant on reality shows. What's causing my rant today is the seemingly contagious and almost epidemic corruption of the pronunciation of the word...important.

When did the first of the two T's in the word important become silent? Can somebody explain to me why everybody seems to think it's acceptable to say impor-int instead of important? WTF people!

Does some actor with a speech impediment say it like that and because you think they're cool, you think you'll be cool if you say it like that too? Is it a backwoods, barefoot, hillbilly thing that's gone viral? Is it a black thing? Is this how teachers teach children in the school system to say this word? Help me out here because the cause should be identified so that it can be corrected - and quickly because like a forest fire on a windy day, it's spreading out of control.

I tolerate a lot of mispronunciations on a regular basis. One of them that comes to mind is axe instead of ask. I don't know if people say axe instead of ask because they genuinely do not possess the linguistic ability to make the S and K sounds together in the same word or if it is simply laziness. I guess I would have to find someone who habitually says axe instead of ask and get them to read the following sentence out loud and see what comes out:
      The skinny skank wore a skimpy skirt
If they say "The skinny skank wore a skimpy skirt" I will attribute their axe to laziness, where as if they say "The x-inny x-ank wore a x-impy x-irt", well then they're off the hook I guess.

But people who say impor-int can obviously make a T sound - they're doing it at the end of the word. Why would anybody choose to say this word wrong? I just can't wrap my head around it. Seemingly normal, intelligent people massacring a word as important as...important?

If you tell me something is impor-int to you how on earth am I supposed to take you seriously?

Come on parents! Encourage your children to speak properly and start setting the example to follow. You've got the big end of the stick, and every time you hear one of your children saying impor-int you should correct them so that they learn to say the word the way it is meant to be pronounced. When you go to parent-teacher meetings you should manoeuvre the teacher into saying the word important during your conversation. If they say it wrong let them know that you would appreciate if they would make the effort to pronounce the word correctly because your children's futures depend on being able to present themselves professionally and intelligently, and having correct pronunciation is key to showing that you have a good education.

And for those of you reading this who have no idea what I'm talking about - the correct pronunciation of the word is im-por-tant! There are two Ts and neither of them is silent.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Altima (ultimate) piece of krap

Back in the 90's I had an amazing car. It was an Olds Calais quad 442. I loved that car. It was fast, solid, comfortable and the engine growled oh so nicely. It was a real good looking car too. The photo below is not my car (I don't have any good pictures of mine). This photo is of Buddy Norton and Peter Farrell's car - thanks guys for posting this picture on the net! Mine was white and looked exactly the same, spoiler and all - except without all the adverts and cool racing decals.

Man - is that a good looking car or what, eh?

I drove my 442 for thirteen of the best years of my life - from 1991 to 2004. Like all good things, the joys of owning that car had to come to an end when it rusted out and started falling apart. It also started having some pretty serious mechanical problems and like an old beloved pet, with a heavy heart, I decided I had to let it go. It was a really hard decision.

I sold the car to a guy who did ice racing in the winter. The car wasn't running when he bought it and I cried the day he towed it out of the driveway and I watched it disappear down the street for the last time. I was never to see the car again nor to hear anything from the guy who bought it. So I don't know it's ultimate fate. Perhaps he has fixed it all up and it is still racing today, or maybe it was demolished during a race. Who knows? I just hope it went out with a blaze of glory - the car deserved that.

I don't think I can ever love another car as much as I loved that awesome quad 442.

I shopped around quite a bit but there was nothing out there that really got my heart pounding. I ended up leasing a 2005 Nissan Altima for three years. I was in mourning and wasn't ready to make any long-term commitments so that's why I leased it. It was a 2.5SE model - and I ordered it in black. When it came it was charcoal gray - apparently the salesman had misunderstood my colour choice. Whatever. I had no intentions of falling in love with this car so it didn't really matter what colour it was.

The car was OK I guess. Nice and roomy and the engine was all right. The one thing I discovered very quickly, though, is that gray is a really bad colour choice for a car. It began as a subtle thing at first. I would be driving down the street and people would back out of their driveway and almost hit me. But I also noticed when I was driving on the highway that people would change lanes right on top of me...like I wasn't even there. The full realization hit me when birds kept slamming into the car. My gray Altima was invisible...I was a road hazard. I was probably going to die in this car - and because my car was invisible, my dead body would probably never be found.

But as fate would have it, that car and I were not destined to be together. After a couple of months the "Service Engine Soon" light went on. When I got it serviced they said I hadn't screwed on the gas cap tight enough. I drove the car home, but the next day the light came on again (the gas cap was screwed on tight - so it wasn't that). So I took it back and they did whatever they do to turn it off again. When I drove it home it was fine...but the light came on again the next day.

Nissan service kept dicking me around but after the seventh time they finally admitted that the computer was generating an error code that was undocumented by the manufacturer. So what does that mean? Well the girl in the service department explained it to me like this: "You don't need to worry about the light - just keep driving the car and ignore the Service Engine Soon indicator. But if the engine starts stalling for no reason, or if it starts smoking excessively, or if the engine catches on fire, then you should definitely bring it in."

IF THE ENGINE CATCHES ON FIRE???

And she said it to me with a matter-of-fact, straight face like she told this to people every day. Anyways, I thought screw that! I'm not driving this mobile road hazard any more. So I turned around and walked over to a salesman, pled my case and traded up on my lease to a different car. There was no way in hell that I was going to drive around in that ticking time bomb any longer.

I traded up to a black 2005 2.5SL Altima. It was a black beauty with heated leather seats and an awesome Bose sound system. It drove straight as an arrow and was super well insulated and amazingly quiet to drive. It was no 442, but I was managing to really like this car. It was a 4 year lease and during those 4 years I never had any problems with the car and I was really starting to think of purchasing it when the lease expired.

But of course, car manufacturers don't want you to do that. Before the lease expired they invited me in and started schmoozing me and trying to get me to sign a new lease instead of letting me purchase my 4 year old car. They used all kinds of good arguments and admittedly, the new 2-door Altima coupe was a really nice looking car. So I test drove one...it was OK, but the back seat was really small and hard to get into and I was having to drive my aging parents around to doctor's appointments and the like more and more often, so the coupe wasn't a good choice for me.

For the regular 4-door 2.5SL they had a new sporty Aero package that added some spoilers and made the car look a little more sexy, so I let myself get suckered in. I let my 2005 go and got a 2009. What a mistake!

The 2009 Nissan Altima is a cheap piece of junk! A real piece of krap - a mobile scrap heap. I only have myself to blame because I didn't test drive it. It is so cheaply made that I can't even get over it! I don't even know where to start.

Road noise. I guess I'll start here because this is the most aggravating thing for me. After 4 years in my practically sound-proof 2005, I can't believe the number of decibels of road noise that I have to endure in my 2009. I swear that I'm going to end up burning out all of the electric window motors because I keep trying to close the (already closed) windows thinking that one of them must be open and that's why I'm hearing all this horrendous, distracting road noise all the time. There is not one iota of insulation in this car...NONE! One day I bought a case of beer and put it in the trunk. As I drove home I could hear the bottles clinking together in the case as if it were in the seat next to me. How could that be - the case of beer was in the trunk. What the heck are the back seats made out of? Rice paper?

Rattles. Ugh - rattles. I hate rattles, squeaks, buzzes and other annoying noises. I never had any rattles in my 2005. The 2009 is full of them. I spent countless hours at the dealer getting rattles fixed during the first year. There is still one in the dash, another one coming from the back passenger side somewhere, plus every time I turn a corner something goes "hoooo" right next to my left ear...it's driving me f*cking crazy!!! But I give up. Every time you fix a rattle in this car you discover that it was hiding the sound of another rattle, buzz or squeak.

Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. Everything in this car is cheap. The metal is thin, the leather is thin, the carpets are thin, the plastic is thin and flimsy - everything is cheap and flimsy. They cut so many corners to make this car inexpensive that it is just a cheap piece of krap now. A far cry from the 2005 I had before. Nissan should be ashamed - they took a good car and turned it into a cheap piece of garbage. And no, I'm not just exaggerating because I hate this car - it really is a cheap piece of garbage. You know how cars usually have metal wheel wells? My 2009 Altima does not have metal wheel wells...the wheel wells are made out of felt. I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not felt that is glued to rigid plastic or to metal - hell no - that would count as insulation and there will be none of that! It's just flimsy felt...the kind you make crafts with in elementary school. Flimsy felt with nothing behind it but air.

I've had my fair share of krappy cars in my lifetime, but this one is the biggest disappointment of all. After 4 years of pleasurable driving in my 2005 Altima I can't believe how horrible the 2009 is in comparison.

Now, of course, my bitching and griping has not gone un-noticed at my Nissan dealer. I have literally BEGGED them to let me upgrade to a different car...but this time they won't let me. They say it's not them (the dealer), but that it's Nissan Canada who have changed the wording in the lease so that, in order to get out of the lease, you have to pay it out in full. Nissan has the big end of the stick, see? You can no longer cancel a lease in order to get a new lease...unless of course, Nissan wants you to...like when it is in their best interest. But when it is to keep a long-term, loyal customer happy? Not a chance. Sorry, no can do!

One smart-assed salesman told me "Your mistake isn't that you got a 2009 Altima. Your mistake was that you had a 2005 Altima first." Really? Gee thanks pal. You can crawl back into your cubicle and go back to playing with your dick now.

So I've been stuck with this piece of krap and counting down the number of days until I can rid my driveway of it. Oh Nissan have offered to let me turn it in early, after two years of making me suffer, but only if I got a brand new Nissan - they even offered to waive the vehicle inspection and to give me all kinds of incentives.

But you know what? They've blown it. They don't deserve to have me as a loyal customer anymore. They made me suffer for two years with a car that I don't like, so they can dry-jam it up their exhaust pipe. Now I have the big end of the stick. I'm keeping this piece of garbage until May 1st, 2012 when the lease expires. When I take the car back to them the brakes will be finished, the tires will be worn out, the batteries in the remotes will be dead, the car will be dirty, the gas tank will be empty and the car will be so full of rattles, squeeks and buzzes that they might just drown out all the f*cking road noise. I wish I could max out the mileage too, but I just can't stand driving the damn thing enough to max it out.

Apparently the 2009 was a disaster and they put the quality back in the 2010 and 2011 models, but I am not really in a position to vouch for that because they wouldn't let me change my car. They needed suckers to pawn off their krappy 2009s to and I was one of them.

I don't know what to expect with the 2012s and I don't really care either. After dropping off my Altima at Nissan next May, I will be walking across the street to Dodge to treat myself to a brand new Charger.

Sayonara Nissan!