Here’s to the neighbors.

I live in a rural area with a pretty low population density and 1.5 acre lot minimum. My closest neighbor is 60 feet away – most are over 300 feet or more. The area is really quiet. Usually all you can hear are birds. You can see the Milky Way at night. On any given day I may see javelina, coyotes, horny toads, road runners, vultures, hawks, barn owls, cottontails, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, mice, scorpions, one of a half-dozen varieties of snake, and a dozen varieties of birds. If you like nature, it’s a neat place to live.

I am very fortunate that the house closest mine is owned by the world’s best neighbor. That’s not some coffee mug slogan – he’s just cool! He always has some incredible project going on – from welding custom turbo brackets to his friend’s drag bike, to machining a custom suspension for his truck from raw blocks of steel. His wife’s cool. And he has the same hobbies I do. He listens to the same radio stations. He drinks the same beer I do. If you need something he’s there to help. When the tree blew over between our properties, he was there to help me prop it back up. When my wife’s car got a flat during my last business trip, he put down his dinner and fixed it as if it was the evening’s entertainment. Every week I drop by with a six pack and we sit in his gi-normous garage/machine shop, and talk about whatever.

Living next to the world’s best neighbor was offset by three of the 5 other residents within shouting range being asshats. Yeah, I hate to say it, but they were. Quiet, keep-to-themselves folks, but highly disagreeable and dysfunctional. My mean neighbor – mean until he got cancer, then he got really nice just before he left – was foreclosed on after 2 years struggling with the bank. My really mean neighbor – and I mean the North American pit viper cheat-little-children-out-of-their-lunch-money variety – died. Since snakey left his money to his kids, his lovely new wife could no longer afford the house, and was forced to sell to make ends meet. The neighbor behind me – let’s call him packrat, because he’s never seen a pile of junk he did not want to hoard – was also foreclosed on. After rummaging in his own trash for several months looking for scrap metal to sell, packrat smashed up cars, trailers, camper shells, ATVs, and construction supplies with his backhoe. Selling trash and trashing valuables is a special kind of mental illness. He even did me a favor and knocked over my trees by the property line so I have a full view of the debris field. Junk pile ...

While I am never happy to see people lose their homes, especially given the banking shenanigans going on all around us, I am in some small way a beneficiary. The bad neighbors are gone and the new neighbors are really nice! The people who replaced snakey are very pleasant. The neighbors across the street are wonderful – I helped them move some of their belongings and ended up talking and drinking beer till the sun went down. And while I am going to have to look at the junk pile behind me for a long time – nobody will be moving into the rat’s nest for some time – no neighbor is better than a deranged one. It dawned on me that, surrounded by nice people, I am now the un-cool neighbor. Oh, well. I plan to throw a party for the block to welcome them – and hopefully they will overlook my snarky personality.

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Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to LonerVamp, in response to Incite: Back to School.

How timely! I watched Pressure Cooker on netflix streaming just last night which follows several inner city high school students in Philadelphia attempting to turn their hard work in cooking classes into culinary scholarships.

If I had a chance to do some things again… I’d even further enjoy my endless supply of free time with no responsibilities, work a bit harder in things that matter (that’s not every class, but I’d try more things), and forge just a few better friendships. Still, it is what it is, and I’m fond of my childhood, even if I was comfortable and wasted lots of time