Monthly Archives: November 2007

Why I don’t trust banks… New HouseNews

After my rant about paying off the load early the banks took interest and did the only thing they could to prevent me from paying… they lost the check I mailed to them.

This accomplishes several things:
1) They get to charge me $78 in fees.
2) They get to call and bug my wife.
3) We pay the missing month & next month up-front.
4) Profit.

So they manage to fast-talk us out of paying the extra not just this month but NEXT month as well. Bastards! Well, they messed up… they also sent me a “late” notice and now I have their damn address. Let’s just see them “lose” my next check with the extra several hundred dollars.  I’m sending it Certified.

Happy Thanksgiving! Brain DrippingNews

This is our first Thanksgiving in our new home and we decided to spend it in said home. When faced with the delicious decision of which side of the family to visit over this holiday we decided that we’d just stay here and avoid the drive, the traffic, the headaches and… did I mention the drive? Since nobody is actually From New Jersey, everyone Leaves New Jersey on Thanksgiving. That puts us in our cars in what amounts to a mass exodus and the roads just aren’t wide enough for Everyone at once.

Don’t get me wrong, family is always worth the trip but if I spend 4.5 hours making a 2 hour trip they wouldn’t want me there, ya know?

Anyway, so… yeah we stayed home. We cleaned up the house a little, ate a big pancake & sausage breakfast, cleaned up the house some more, had a nice lunch of leftovers from this past week and then decided to go for a hike in Cheesequake State Park. We explored the new trails, the lake and a marsh we hadn’t been in before. I caught leaves and climbed horizontal trees while Heather found some lovely moss. We had a nice hike too & even borrowed time to find the Geocache that’s closest to our home. I dropped my “Moving Man” geocoin into the cache. It can do the moving from now on! While signing the log a Turkey Buzzard lighted heavily on a nearby branch. Cool.

Back at home it was time for Thanksgiving Dinner! We microwaved a turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes & cranberry green-beans. We shared it while eating over the sink – just as the pilgrims did! I gave thanks for the microwave bounty that we ate. Of course, this wasn’t the last of the meal… since it was such a nice day we fired up the grill for one last time and cooked hot dogs & the last of the bacon wrapped filet mignon. For desert we had chocolate.

That’s my kinda Thanksgiving. I’ll close with a short poem from our dear friends at Happy T-Day everyone!

It’s the best day of the year.
Every body shout and cheer!
Because there no religious reason
Why we’re all gathered here.
It’s secular you see?
And that’s alright with me.
Now say your thanks and eat a Turkey Knee!


This little piggy went to Old Bridge! Geocaching

Big Ed's PiggyLast night was my first attempt at co-hosting a Geocaching event. Marc (aka mblatch) was my co-hort & co-host. We set it up at Big Ed’s BBQ on Rt. 34 in Old Bridge. Besides having some fantastic ribs the place is just fun. There are giant cartoon painted wood cut-outs all over the property (example at left). It has ample parking & a front section that’s good for a larger group hanging out and chatting before getting down to some serious pigging out. The “piggy” theme was decided for us when I noticed that they sell Big Eds branded piggy banks that would make an excellent cache container. I bought the piggy bank, sealed the ‘coin hole’ with pink caulk, gorilla glued an ‘airborne’ tube inside the snout to hold a log book and hid it in the woods behind the restaurant with Heather a week before the event. Like the three little pigs this solo piggy made his house out of sticks. 🙂

Many little piggiesI also decided we needed swag so bought 2 dozen small pigs from the Oriental Trading Co. and started looking for pig themed geo-coins. I found a total of three. One I had to buy on eBay, one from a vendor in Germany and the third from a small store in the US. Unfortunately the US supplier only ships once a month and, of course, the coins didn’t arrive in time. I did manage to have the other coins present for the event and everyone got to ‘discover’ the one that had its own custom icon (Pig Icon). I wrote the name of the event & date on the bottom of all of the plastic pigs to give the attendees something to take home or use as trade swag. Last, but certainly not least, I hid a bonus cache in the parking lot of Big Ed’s – it’s just a small play-doh container made to look like a lost little piggy. I tried to time the publication of the two new caches to they’d coincide with the event. Alas, I caught the cache-reviewer on a bad weekend and the caches weren’t published in time. To compensate I printed out the cache listings and provided them to folks at the event. Tim (aka TheMadRussian) was the first person to run out to the parking lot to find the Lost Little Piggy. After the meal 7 people made the attempt at the same time. They were all lined up against the fence looking like a police lineup.

When all of the eating/paying of bills was accomplished someone (Ok, Marc) announced that we should all do some night-caches in the area. There were two available and, though one was archived, Marc & I had verified that it was indeed still there just the night before. So 9 of us piled into the 2 largest vehicles and drove the mile to the official parking coordinates. This particular night cache can only be done at night. There’s small reflective spots tacked to various trees and you have to follow the virtual trail they provide. The tacks are 50 – 150 feet apart and very hard to see in the fog but with 9 pairs of eyes and at least that many light sources the cache was easily found. From there we humped over the hill to Heather & my Piggy Bank cache. Again, they made short work of it but everyone seemed to enjoy the cache container & the hide. I basically made a log cabin for it under the roots of a tree. Philipe (aka CondorTrax) came up with the official First-To-Find and earned the Flying Pig geocoin I bought off of eBay.

Not enough boots!I knew of another cache that wasn’t exactly on the way home but with an “accidental” missed turn we found ourselves 150 feet from a 5th find of the night. This specific cache is called Whitetail Retreat and it’s on what amounts to an island in a marsh. Once one person headed into the reeds everyone quickly followed – regardless of what style of pants/shoes they were wearing. The mist wafted across the reeds. The water was cold. The mud was… odoriferous. The cache was found! Sheer numbers trump any good hide. AVGraphics took a great photo of our shoes when we got back to dry land. I’m the geek with the black shoe & his pants rolled up. The rolling didn’t help and I’ll probably have to “archive” the pants.

We returned to our rides on the easy to follow path that I conveniently missed the first time. Everyone seemed in high spirits and having such a good time that it was a shame the night had to come to a close. I can’t say for certain that this will become a recurring event, but I’ll say this… there’s another night cache within a mile of Big Ed’s. 🙂

Here’s the links:
This Little Piggy event
Lost Little Piggy
Night Vision
This Solo Piggy
Whitetail Retreat

New Home – Pictures & Dollars New House

First, I’m proud to say that I finally uploaded some dang pictures. Not sure why I waited so long except that I didn’t have the uploader utility installed. 🙂 That’ s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. See pictures here:

Click on the appropriate album and enjoy!

Secondly, I wrote my first check towards the mortgage today. Big Check. Gunna do it for the next 23 years apparently. What? How’d I get a 23 year mortgage? I didn’t! I simply rounded the amount I owed up to the next even thousand. It’s 9% more than what I would have been paying but it chops 7 years and over 75 thousand dollars off of the total that I will have spent over that period. If I choose to also make an extra payment with the year end tax refund I’ll most certainly be getting the loan will be shortened an ADDITIONAL 5 years and I’ll be saving $116,395 over the term. The bank will absolutely hate me and that’s fine. I want them to hate me and sell my loan every other month if it makes them feel better. Know what makes me feel better? One Hundred Sixteen Thousand Three Hundred & Ninety-five dollars. And Seven Cents. I’ll be 50 years old before I get to laugh all the way to the bank with my final payment if this plan stands. 18 years is a long long time to live in one home but you never know. One thing I do know is that I plan on doing a good deal of damage to the principle of this loan over the next few years. There’s an old tradition of displaying an eagle on a home you own. I can’t wait for the day that walk out of the bank, still laughing, and stroll over to the corner Iron Eagle store. I already have a spot picked out on the house. Until that time I’ll be pouring every cent I have (that’s earning less than 6.8%) directly into the house and I’ll have it paid off before I’m 50. You can bank on that.

Excel spreadsheet to show interest savings