Monthly Archives: August 2007

On Melvin’s Mud & Sticky Chiggers Geocaching

On Sunday August 12th I competed against the mightiest Geocache of Middlesex County: Melvin’s Multiple Madness. It breaks down to a 7 stage multi-part through the title marsh of Cheesequake State Park. One branch of the Cheesequake Creek – Melvin’s Creek – is the focus & locus of the hunt. You can’t park within a mile of the first stage so your first challenge is just getting there. The best looking route by satellite images takes you through a NJ Superfund Site. Once you make it to the actual marsh you have to cross the Melvin twice and the mud/silt is deep & unusually viscous. What sinks into Melvin’s Mud stays in Melvin’s Mud. I sank up to mid thigh on the first crossing and even deeper on the return trip. I was fortunately strong enough to pull my legs out but, alas, I was stronger than my boots. The mud ripped them in half. Litterally. It took the sole right off of the leather upper and wouldn’t give it back. Henceforth I shall call it:

Melvin’s Creek – the eater of Soles.

Walking across a reeded tidal marsh full of mollusk shells and Superfund runoff in stocking feet was an adventure to be certain. You can read the full account of my adventure (and see the photos) by clicking here.

While not slogging through the marshes I’ve been busy hiding the Speedway Cache. It’s not published yet as this writing because I’ve been slowed down by work, rain & CHIGGERS! Otherwise known as the Harvest Mite, Chiggers are small (I mean small, dude!) mite/spider/ticks that cluster at the tops of tall grass or low branches and hop on as you go past. Its not uncommon to have dozens and dozens fall upon you at once. If they make contact with skin, like a tick, they’ll seek out a safe place to eat. Then, like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly”, they squirt digestive enzyme and slurp up the liquefied you. Obviously the body doesn’t take kindly to this kind of treatment and responds with itchy painful red welts. Anyway, Nicol park, like most of New Jersey, is susceptible to chigger breeding and on my last visit I must have walked through a few hives because my right leg was covered with’m.

Not just a few dozen though.

There were HUNDREDS!

And they were HUNGRY!

And they don’t brush off!

And they don’t squish!

And they were making their way up and down my pant leg looking for MEAT!

And I, having popped out for some lunch time woods walking/coordinate verifying, was wearing my work clothing that I couldn’t shed without losing my job (and possibly freedom). What was I to do? First things first: Get the pants off! Done. Hide pants in trunk! Done. Get back in car before traffic on Rt. 34 notices me! Done. Drive back home, bathe in DEET-ful “Deep Woods” Off, Shower off anything I just killed, put on new clothing and drive back to work 30 minutes over my lunch break. Final step: work late to make up time. Oh, and itch all day for the thought of hundreds of mighty mites drinking my skin. One chigger is a nasty thought but two gross? Too gross.

Four days later the pants & shirts I was wearing that day are out on my back porch. I’m waiting for their short lifespan to pass before I go back out there. In the mean time I’ll scratch at my dozen or so potential chigger chomps and be glad that I noticed them before I got back in the car. *shudder* Mental note: Duct Tape or Lint Roller = essential late summer/early autumn caching gear!

Dang, now I itch again. Scratch these:
Melvin’s Multiple Madness
The Harvest Mite (Chigger)
Two Gross

Zip Code Madness! New HouseNews

Everything is progressing well on the purchase of the new house. Nothing really to complain about except I don’t know where it is we’ll be moving in a few weeks!

Map of Zip Code 07735It all started when the insurance folks asked me which county can claim ownership of the land. I blinked… loudly… and proclaimed that I really had no idea! Its on the border you see and my map didn’t have enough detail. I’ve since looked it up and it’s indeed Monmouth but the fun doesn’t stop there, oh no! You see there’s also the zip code to throw monkey wrenches all around haphazardly.  I’ve been hit in the works with a Monk-Wren and it smarts!

Here’s the thing: Our zip code is officially 07735. The tax tables say that 07735 contains Cliffwood Beach [Monmouth] (Us), Cliffwood Beach [Middlesex], Union Beach & Keyport. I can rule out the Middlesex & Union Beach addresses, but the trouble is the address written on The Deed says Keyport while maps obviously point to Cliffwood Beach. Which is it?

This is no arbitrary decision. Hundreds of dollars in property taxes (which we’ve learned are paid to Aberdeen by the way) and preferential treatment by the insurance companies is at stake! I’ve decided that I’m going to say Cliffwood Beach when folks ask where I’m homing up. If they give me the “Oh my god I’ve lived in NJ for [n] years and I have no idea where that is but I don’t want Eric to know that!” look I’ll say it’s in Keyport. If the look continues I’ll just add “Exit 117” and they’ll smile and nod approvingly because everyone knows that’s exactly [n] miles from their Parkway exit.


What was I writing about again? I don’t remember. I’m going to bed. While there I’ll dream of my new house in Keypwood Beach, Monmoddlesex County.

w00t! Free money from Google! NewsSite Update

There actually is a grain of truth to those Google related spam traps. Big G just sent me a check for a little over $100. This is the amount that I’ve earned in the past 14 months since I signed up for Adsense – Google’s text based ads appear on a few of my pages and if anyone clicks them I get paid!

I hooked up with the free service StatCounter a bunch of years ago. They let me know which of my pages are the most popular as well as a slew of other stats regarding who’s visited, how many times, etc. What I learned was that 95% of my hits were to pages inside my Ego-Surfing cache. Once upon a time I used to collect references to myself that popped up on the net. It’s called “ego-surfing”. I created a page of all the funniest/most impressive links that reference someone named “Eric Dalton”. Years later I went back and noticed that many of the links had gone down and were gone forever so when I redid the page I saved the pages & put them in my Ego Link Cache.

As years went by the original pages vanished and MY version of the page became the only reference on the internet to a sometimes quite obscure topic (Sonoluminescence for example). At one point if you searched Yahoo for “gospel stage plays” I was the #1 link! Someone sharing my name had posted a message in a forum regarding “Madea’s Family Reunion” and other gospel stage plays by Tyler Perry. When the original forum went down my page became a top source of information on the topic. Cool! I never thought of using the cache that way, but I’m happy to provide a service, albeit a tiny one, to the www at large. The nice part is that if I put an ad on that page with links to related information the searchers have even more options. Even better – I get a few cents for every link clicked.

Over the months I included ads on 7 pages. The Tyler Perry information is my top draw and biggest earner but the quickest way to earn me a buck is to download one of Google’s software offerings from my referrals page. Thanks for reading, and thanks Adsense for giving something back to the little guy!

Google’s Adsense Program
Eric’s Referral Page

On houses, runs & general silliness. Health/FitnessNew HouseNews

Our neighbor moved out yesterday. By complete coincidence our doorknob broke at the same time. We thought they changed the wrong locks. Just a coincidence. They fixed the lock/doorknob. Huh.

600 bucksWith our closing date of Aug 30th we’ll probably end up paying rent all the way through September. Drats. If the apartment masters are able to clean/repaint/rekey the place by the 15th however we could save six hundred plus dollars. The extra is what I expected to be paying movers to make it easier on myself, but now I’ll be toting my own bale. The upshot of all of this is that we’ll have lots of overlap where we can go between the two domiciles and pack/move/clean to our hearts content (or two weeks goes by, whichever comes first).

Want some good news? The mortgage has been approved and locked in at a rate of 6.125. Back to the magic number from earlier in the year! We were able to swing this lower rate because I qualify as a “moderate income” shlub. Fine by me. Any special program that saves me money is worth it. Label me a waddleflap for all I care, just as long as my bottom line is happier.

The next step is to get do the title search (another expensive proposition that really only takes some clerk 10 minutes + a phone call) and get the house insured. I’ll be going through NJ Manufacturers who currently insures our cars. I might even get a break on the car insurance. Once these two things are done we only have to wait until the 30th and the closing. I’m still waiting for a shoe to fall on me, but so far all is looking good!

Speaking of shoes… this past weekend I donned my running shoes & imported my Mother from North Carolina to run in the Ocean Grove Biathlon. I do it pretty much every year and had been training for about two weeks to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself. Well, the end result… I finished last. Or first. Depends on how you look at it. You see, the race was the 21st not the 28th as reported by this website:

Why I chose to look at that site instead of all of the others that told me the race was on the 21st is beyond me. I guess it wasn’t meant to be and that I’m supposed to run the Neptune City 5K this Saturday instead?

Maybe I will… maybe I will…