Nerdfest 2008? Should I go?

It looks like Blizzard has decided to host a Blizzcon convention for the year 2008 down in Anaheim Oct 10th-11th. As I’m currently fairly active playing WoW at the moment I’m tempted to go to learn about their upcoming games, try out Starcraft II, and maybe meet some WoW guildies in real life.

I’ve never been to a convention like this and I’m not sure I want to go by myself. My “real life” friends who play WoW are all still at school and hitting up a convention is probably out for them. Anyone out there ever been to something like Blizzcon (Comic Con, GenCon or some other ConCon)? Is this something that’s worth going to by oneself or does it need to be experienced with friends. Something tells me it’s not worth going unless I can drag convince someone to come with.

Can’t Take the Heat? Get Out of the Bay

Well the bay area has deceived me, it’s weather is not as perfect as one is lead to believe. It appears that the highs for the next few days are going to be record setting. That’s right the forecast calls for Sunny (Duh), a super high UV index, and highs of 97, 106, 97 for Wed, Thurs, Fri. Turning on that Intel Quadcore is going to be a bad idea.

I would worry about an expensive power bill if I my apartment had an AC unit, but it doesn’t. What I do have is a box fan and a small window room ac unit from a previous trip to CA. Too bad the AC doesn’t fit in the window and I fear dropping it 2 stories onto someone in the parking lot. Last time I was at the store they really didn’t have any other AC units in stock since it’s still fairly early in the summer.

Given these crazy highs I might have to hang at work or something until it cools off at night. The saddest part is the AC at work is probably cranked so high I need to wear long sleeves and a jacket, so much for shorts.

More Cheese

Been awhile since I’ve posted but I do have a few things in the queue.

I did manage to find more cheese out here in CA. In fact I did find cheese curds at the farmer’s market in Campbell.

Campell Farmer's Market

Curds at the Market

With curds in hand I decided I needed to improve them by turning them properly molten. To that end I ordered a Deep Fryer off In just under a weeks time I had everything I needed to transform the curds into molten goodness.

The Fryer

Deepfryer in hand I was now able to fry some curds. Just in case the curds didn’t turn out I also decided to make some french fries.

Fries Frying

While the fries were frying I whipped up some batter for the curds.

The Batter and Curds

Battering time! As you can see I froze the curds prior to this step so they’re all stuck together.

Frozen Curds Meet Batter

While preparing the curds the fries got done. Golden and delicious!

Golden Fries

Time for the newly battered curds to take a plunge. At this point the batter is still pretty damp and dripping off the curds.

Curds about to take the plunge

Fry time.

Frying the curds

Fried curds all molten and golden. That light stuff floating around them are bits of batter that became detached during the frying. It seems my homemade batter was a bit thick and some of it floated off in the fryer.

Golden Curds

Oops I tried to dump them out but I made the mistake of having runny batter on the curds when they went in. The batter has cooked itself around the fry basket and so the curds won’t come out. I did manage to eat the curds by hacking them out of the basket.

The Basket and Curds Melded Together

I also made some brats for a full WI meal.


Due to the batter melding to the basket I wasn’t able to actually fry all the curds. I ended up freezing a bunch of them for later. Using frozen curds with frozen batter works a lot better when frying. They still ended up as a giant lump since I cooked them to long but at least they came out of the basket.

Golden Curds for Real

A small bit of WI in CA

While browsing around SaveMart today I came across this little transplanted piece of WI:

Spreadable WI Goodness

That’s right, you can buy spreadable cheddar cheese from Kaukauna, WI. Someone told me that they didn’t even sell this stuff out here but it seems SaveMart does. They even had 5-6 flavors of cheese.

Of course this stuff STILL isn’t that wonderful WI treat known as the Cheese Curd. I’ve heard a rumor the Campbell Farmer’s market has them so I need to investigate tomorrow.

Tax Time

This weekend I spent a bit of time doing my Taxes. Unlike what appears to be 90% of the population I don’t use those newfangled computer programs to do my taxes, I do them by hand. In general this isn’t so bad. Other than doing a bit of research to figure out what I could deduct from my move (pretty much nothing), I completed my 1040, and my Minnesota M1NR. Do to my Minnesota residency but employment in WI, I get a penalty this year for not paying estimated tax to MN. I probably should have thought about this ahead of time since I had the same thing happen last year. At least I don’t have to deal with that again.

Now I need to do a CA return which seems to be stupid complicated compared to the other ones. For some reason I have to file a Schedule CA 540NR which is not nearly as straight forward as it should be. I’m not sure why they really care about my 1040 wages since they only get a part of that, and you work out what you actually owe on a sheet you don’t even turn in.

Actually, the worst part of my tax experience seemed to be that I didn’t have any paper forms (well I had a 1040a but needed to file a 1040). The federal government and the states all offer PDFs you can fill in but there is NO WAY to save your work. The best I could do is print the form to another PDF which I couldn’t edit. This made the few Apple Preview crashes a pain since I lost all the stuff on the form a couple times. That and I had to retype the whole form if I want to make a change. After the first crash I moved to scratch paper.

They seriously need some sort of form where you can save temporary work. Maybe they can just let me fill in a form online and submit electronically without paying. But if they let me do that, then Intuit would go out of business. I’m not going to pay some third party $20 so I can submit my taxes online.

Also for fun I gave the free online Turbo Tax a try to see what it came up with. In about the same amount of time (almost more in fact) as doing it by hand Turbo Tax agreed with my hand calculations. The best part was that they wouldn’t actually give you tax advice on the free version. At least the IRS forms list what you can do for certain deductions. With TurboTax you get a blank box unless you fork over your cash. Frankly, I have no idea why anyone pays for that software.

The Downside To CA

Sometime between 9pm Friday and 10am Saturday someone smashed the front driver’s side window in my car while it was sitting in my parking spot. They did a pretty thorough job going through my car and stole everything in the glove compartment, and the roadside emergency kit that was in my trunk. They did leave the 3-4 burned CD’s I had in the car. Luckily, I didn’t really have anything valuable in the car that they could take. They did get my car’s manual and registration.

Since the only damage was to the window it’s well below my $500 deductible and so my insurance covers nothing from the break in. It also turns out they don’t cover any items stolen from the car. Now that I know they don’t cover stolen items I think I’m going to have to go find a different provider.

I’m mostly glad I typically don’t keep anything in my car, so at least I didn’t lose anything else. What really angers me is the $255 in damage to my window. I’m sure the items stolen add up to much less than the replacement cost, and it’s not like I really need that extra expense.

I thought I lived in a somewhat safe neighborhood but it looks like that’s not the case. My other worry is that there’s no guarantee that something like this won’t happen again. It’s not like I can do much to prevent someone from breaking my stuff again. Apparently, keeping nothing in the car doesn’t help.

I also attempted to report the whole thing to the police but apparently the Santa Clara police don’t really care. When I tried to call and file a report the officer answering the phone just forwarded me on to an answering machine where I left a message that never got returned.

Busy Last Couple of Weeks

Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. In the last couple of weeks I’ve spent most of my time outside of work working on a presentation I’ll be giving at a conference in Japan come December. Even with this sort of sucking up my time I have done some interesting things this week.

My friend Mike Zenz (from here on out referred to as Zenz), came to visit last weekend. He was in town after spending the earlier part of the week presenting some poster at a neuroscience conference. We spent the weekend doing two primary activities. On Saturday we went Wine tasting (I bought more wine that I should have), and on Sunday we went to check out the UC-Berkeley Campus.

After walking around the campus I sort of regret not applying to go to school there. The whole place feels like you’re in a big park with some nice shady tree groves. The town area around the campus sort of feels like a normal college downtime and so is very similar to Madison. Those of you from WI imagine something like UW-Madison but with the campus transported to the UW Arboretum. I definitely would recommend the place over Stanford, when I visited there it seemed much more like a corporate campus than a University. To bad I’m done with school for the moment. Maybe some day I’ll go back to get a PhD or a Law Degree.

Last Tuesday, DoIT decided that I no longer needed access to the Campus IT resources and has taken away my NetID. I can no longer use my school e-mail address or access my grade/class information online. If anyone wants to get a hold of me please use my gmail account, or jthon<at>

I also picked up a couple of new PS 3 games this week bringing my total number of purchased PS 3 games to 4! (I also own a few PS 2 games to play on the PS 3.) I got the new Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction game, and Assassin’s Creed. So far in my limited playtime both of these games are enjoyable. I plan to write a full fledged review of each once I get a bit more playtime in.

The Earth is Alive!

Earlier this evening a magnitude 5.6 earthquake hit the bay area. This is my first earthquake experience and I have to say even for such a “minor” one I’d rather not have that happen often. I think I’d rather live in the Midwest. At least with tornado’s you’re not likely to be hit.

The USGS has a map and some info on local quakes. I’m just glad my TV didn’t fall over. I don’t need plasma shards in my rug, and have my TV die after a month.