This site functions as an archive of Conner's Blog, which was a blog from 2006-2014 located at Images and links are likely to be broken.

Friday Five 11/6/2009 Edition

Happy Friday Readers! Can you tell I'm excited, after yesterday's craziness I'm ready for the weekend. Tonight may or may not include sitting at home and doing very little. Saturday looks to be full of adventures and I'm excited for them to begin.

Today's five is a collection of five words I intend to start using more often. Enjoy

  • Cripes
  • Criminy
  • Spiffy
  • Swell
  • Knucklehead (via graciep)

Have a swell weekend everyone!

What I'm Doing Tonight

In case you wanted to know, I'm participating in PowerPoint Karaoke. If you want to know what it involves, this pretty much sums it up.

Imagine this: You have to deliver a PowerPoint presentation about an unfamiliar topic, with slides you’ve never seen, to an audience eager to heckle and laugh at you. If you’re in your underwear, you’re having a nightmare. If you’re clothed, it’s called PowerPoint Karaoke. (source)

Also, a quick example

In essence, I will be getting up on stage and presenting a slide show on an unknown topic with slides I've never seen. You may ask yourself, "Why?" The truth is, I have no idea, but I'm kind of freaking out right now. I'll let you know how it goes.

Drawings Involving Alcohol

Here is a collection of images from Art's birthday party. Stephanie posted some shortly after the party, I'm a little late to the game.

Dear potential future employers, please ignore this post when looking at my blog, I swear I'm a responsible adult.

Squash Pizza Part 2

Monday night I attempted to improve on my previous try at making squash pizza. I managed to do this even though I had a few kitchen mishaps.

This time I topped the crust with Alfredo sauce to add more flavor. Then I added the caramelized onions and topped those with a mixture of regiano cheese and goat cheese. I topped that with the squash which I had seasoned with cloves, coriander, and nutmeg. Over the top I added parsley and cilantro.

It came out of the oven looking fabulous, though the crust wasn't quite right. I was very happy with the results and intend on making this at least one more time before squash season comes to a close.

The one thing I would change is to add more goat cheese. The flavor of the cheese mixed with the onions and squash was exceptional and those bites without goat cheese were almost disappointing.

Friday Five 10/30/2009

If you're wondering how my day started out, here is a quick snippet. At work we have a pot-luck on Halloween every year(obviously I live in Minnesota). Yesterday I baked an apple crisp for the pot luck. I woke up this morning and started thinking about lunch, and almost packed myself one. Then decided to say screw it and to get Chipotle. I carried the apple crisp all the way into the office before realizing that the item in my hand was for a pot luck I will attend for lunch. My brain isn't exactly firing on all cylinders yet.

One last tidbit, I signed up to present at PowerPoint Karaoke next Thursday. I'm already a little bit freaked out. I have no idea what I'm going to do to prepare, but next week should be interesting.

Ok, on with the five, today's theme is sun, because I'm 95% certain they moved me to Seattle three weeks ago and just haven't told me. (Obviously Mother Nature wants to mock me because as I was writing this post the sun came out)

Happy Friday readers! Hope you have a fun filled weekend and a fabulous Halloween.

Food Reviews and Overreaction

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me complaining about The Heavy Table's review of The Lyndale Tap House on Monday. I took issue with the half-star rating it received, mainly because I went there on Sunday and thought the food was pretty good.

It turns out I overreacted and after reading James Norton's reply to Emily's post about the review, and speaking to Aaron Landry last night at Give & Take, I realized I jumped to conclusions. In fact, if you happen to take the time to actually visit The Heavy Table and look in the About section, they explain their rating system.

So a half-star isn't awful, it just needs a lot of work, and honestly, I have to agree with them. So in essence, what I'm saying is I should usually be ignored on Monday mornings.

An Open Letter to Surly Brewing

Hi Omar, Todd, and the rest of the crew:

I'm writing this letter because I'm a huge fan of your beers. From Coffee Bender to Cynic, they are all delicious. I've introduced a few friends to Furious, a couple to Bender, and one or two to Cynic and I intend to continue this. You have a rabid fan base, and a growing market share. I know there is a big waiting list for liquor stores that want to carry your beer. I'm happy for you, you're local, a good company, and very much not mainstream. All of which make you awesome.

But you have a problem. Your public relations or lack of PR is hurting you. You may not notice it, and you may not notice it for years to come, but it will come back to bite you if you want to grow. In the last few months, I've had three experiences that would have possibly kept me from continuing my patronage of your beer if you weren't local and didn't brew such good beer. Now neither of these directly affects the quality of the product, but it does impact the perception of your company. In a few years, if you want to continue to grow, this may be important.

The first happened a few months ago, around the time you released Hell for the second time. First, at the time I, a new Surly drinker, thought this was your first release of this beer. I headed off to Moto-i, excited to try out this new brew. Well my friend and I walked into the bar, and it was apparent from the start that no one quite knew what was going on. Only one bartender really knew what the plan was, the signage was minimal, and things just didn't seem organized. Things went smoothly overall, thanks to some great staff at Moto-i, but I was disappointed in the event, I expected a bigger deal to be made of the beer, maybe some giveaways, or at least some effort to make it a party. Again, maybe I should not have had these expectations, but when an event is billed as a "Release Party”, the party aspect seems like a legitimate expectation.

The second thing that happened followed this very closely. I'll admit I was disappointed in Hell. I wrote about it on my blog, and then commented on a post written over at The Captain's Chair. I stated that though I liked Hell, I was disappointed because I had expected something crazy and instead got a light, though tasty, beer. During a back and forth on the Captain's Chair's post though, we continued to get defensive responses that seemed to complain about the perception we all had and that it's not fair to you for us to have this perception. Those of us commenting really wanted to give you advice to help and instead we got defensive answers. Of course, the readers of Captain's Chair are going to be big fans so I doubt you lost any drinkers, but an exchange like that with less enthusiastic fans might lose you a few customers.

Finally, Monday night I went to the Darkness Release Party at Hell's Kitchen. From the moment I walked in the door, it was obvious that at yet another release party, no one really knew what was going on. Our bartender only knew he was selling Darkness, from what my companions said when the Surly reps came in the door you seemed confused and didn't know how the bar was laid out. Other than a band in the restaurant side, you wouldn't have known anything was going on. Also, like at Moto-i, no one from your brewery stopped by to say hi, even though I was at a table of six people all enjoying Darkness.

So, here is what I recommend. Hire someone who knows a thing or two about public relations and event planning. Your events should be exciting. When you bill something as a release party it should feel like a party. Giveaways are not necessary, but at least make those who set aside a Monday night to enjoy a glass of your beer feel like they are not just there to buy your product. You also need to work on your public responses. It is great that you do your own PR and you want to keep you voice as inline with your company culture as possible. Just try and do this without sounding defensive.

I also think you need to look at your marketing. As I mentioned when I wrote about Hell, I had a misperception due to the name that caused me to be unimpressed with Hell. This would have been easy to avoid had you either named it something differently, or just spent a little time promoting what you were trying to do with the beer. You are a company that has built itself into a box by brewing big beers. You can get out of that box, just make sure your customers know when you step outside of that box so we aren’t surprised.

I am no expert so my advice may be complete crap, but I hope it’s not. Keep up the good work and keep making great beers, just pair it with some better events and public relations.

Warmest Regards,

Conner McCall

On Being Nearly Blind

I'm nearly blind without glasses or contacts. When I wake up in the morning, I can make out the digits on my alarm clock, only because I bought a clock with very large digits. I don't actually known what my vision is without contacts, but I'm guessing it's somewhere in the single digits over 20.

Normally this isn't a problem, I've been living this way for years and am thankful every day for the wonder that is corrective lenses. Occasionally though things happen, which make me really consider looking into Lasik.

Take this morning for instance. I was driving down 35W on the way to work. Thankfully, it was a normal day and it was bumper-to-bumper stop and barely move traffic. I was enjoying some morning music, when suddenly I blinked and my left contact fell out of my eye. Now this isn't something that normally happens, I think it's a sign I need to lay off the fun beverages for a while and drink more water. But when you are in traffic and you are suddenly unable to see clearly out of one eye it creates a minor problem. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that THERE WAS NOWHERE TO PULL OFF THE ROAD.

Now, I didn't want to stop in the middle of the lane and put my contact back in, but I also needed to get it back in pronto so it didn't dry up. Otherwise, I was going to be driving down Cedar Avenue with either no depth perception or half my vision mostly worthless. Somehow stopping in the middle of the lane actually seemed the safer bet.

Thankfully, I was at a point in the construction where a shoulder miraculously appeared and I was able to safely leave the road and get my vision back. However, I think I'm going to purchase a travel bottle of saline for my backpack so if something like this happens again I'm not in quite such a panic. At least then, I have more time to find a safe place to leave the road before things reach a point of no return.

Birthday Goals - Update 1

A little over a month ago, I turned 27 and I established a set of goals for myself. If you want to read the full posts, here are links to goals one, two, three, four, and five.

For those who do not want to read my mindless jabbering in more than one post today, my goals were as follows. Volunteer more, date more, financial management, maintain my relationships, and eat right. Here is a quick update on my progress. I'm going to try and do these monthly so I can shame myself into working harder at accomplishing them.


So far, this goal hasn't picked up more steam. I did pick up my involvement in the Orchestra and put in quite a bit of work over the past few weeks for that organization, but I haven't done anything besides that. I hope that this month, maybe over Thanksgiving, I will find an organization and work a few hours for them.

Date More

Ummm, we will leave this as unaccomplished and very little progression.

Financial Management

This is a mixed bag. I haven't made any big purchases this month, even though B&H sent me an email that the prime lens I'd been looking at was in stock. I do need to stop eating out as much, though I didn't go out for lunch all last week. I think if I can limit myself to only eating dinner out and only doing that two times a week I'll be happy with my progress. This isn't going to be easy though.

Maintaining Relationships

I ordered and received Moo cards with my contact information on them. This was great and now I just need to work on making sure I have some with me all the time and also work on getting other's information from them. This is going to be a challenge but if I just remember to work on it, I know I can succeed. On a positive note I ran into an old co-worker from college last night and remembered to get a card to him so hopefully I can reconnect with him and his wife(who I also worked with) sometime.

I haven't made a conscious effort to send thank you cards, but I do have some sitting on my desk now, so I can't use the excuse that going to the store and buying them is too much effort.

Eating Right

This was going great up until the last week or so. Too much eating out, and not enough portion control. On the plus side, I've been eating whole grain cereal almost every morning which not only helps with the calorie consumption but also is just overall good for you. I'm only allowing myself to eat out on Tuesday this week, until Friday when I head to Grand Forks. This weekend will be a challenge but I’m going to work hard at not gorging at every meal.

I am giving myself a C grade for this month. Though I've made progress in some of these goals I've also not made much more than a mildly conscious effort to push them forward. So, for those of you who know me, yell at me if you see me slacking. For those of you that don't, please also join in the yelling.

Friday Five 10/23/09 Edition

If I do nothing else for anyone today, at least I can make my readers smile. Here are five links that will make your day better, guaranteed. If they fail to make you smile I respectfully argue that you aren't human and therefore aren't included in my guarantee.

Happy Friday everyone, enjoy the weekend, and I promise to punch Mother Nature in the nose if she doesn't give us at least some sunshine.