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.

Life Gives You Lemons (and the water and sugar)

I've had an eventful last few days. After my crazy birthday experience, things began to settle down, until Sunday.

I went to dinner at the Red Stag Supper club which was great, but on the way home I accidently turned the wrong way down a one way. A Minneapolis police officer just happened to be coming down the street and I got pulled over. I was a little frustrated because I noticed my mistake right away, drove slowly and got off the road the second I safely could, yet still got a ticket. At $175 it seems a bit much for a mistake anyone can make.

I was exhausted yesterday due to a bout of insomnia. I had to go downtown for work and while walking through the skyway I smelled popcorn. On my way back to my car I stopped into get some. I'm pretty sure the girl who was serving me thought I was crazy. I was unable to answer any of her questions on the first try. I even failed to answer whether I wanted butter and salt without stumbling over my words. Still, I came away with popcorn so overall it was a win.

I came home yesterday and went to the grocery store for pizza and cookie ingredients. I wrote down a list and realized halfway there I had forgotten it. I managed to remember almost everything, but when I got home I discovered had forgotten the brown sugar. Happily, my corner store had some so I didn't have to walk that far to remedy that mistake. Then,once I started making the cookies I discovered I had no eggs. Thankfully, the Internet exists and I discovered I could use flax seeds and water or squash to replace eggs. This worked out really well and the cookies turned out excellent.

Today though I woke up after a great nights sleep, made coffee, ate some oatmeal, and made it to work on time. I may have even scored a couch for my apartment from Kate which would be awesome. Now if I can just win her contest and score the awesome set of prizes that she is giving away, my week will be complete. If I win you will of course get to read all about the disasters that will ensue.

Butternut Squash Pizza

How do you turn a kind of crappy day into a win? Well if you happen to have some squash, pizza crust, and few other ingredients, you can make a very tasty pizza.

I had made pizza on Saturday and had some leftover dough and had been to the Farmers Market on Saturday and picked up a few different varieties of squash. On a tip from a friend, I hunted down a recipe for a squash pizza. Epicurious came through with this recipe.

I had to track down a few ingredients but it was really simple. First you need to cook the squash, I roasted mine in the oven as I do not own a microwave. While that was happening, I got the dough ready.

I rolled it out and let it warm up a bit as it had been in the fridge. After the squash was done I cooked it at 425 for about 8 minutes to get it mostly done. The recipe is technically for grilled pizza, so you need to adapt if you want to use oven baked crust.

I seasoned the squash with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I used whole nutmeg for the first time ever.

Topping was simple, top with cheese, add some carmelized onions, and then dollops of squash and a sprinkle of parsley.

Throw that in the oven for about 7-10 minutes and you have one tasty pizza.

My recommendations are to use plenty of cheese and salt. I was a little dissapointed in the amount of contrast between the squash and cheese. It was still good, but would have been better with about an extra 1/2 cup of cheese and some more salt on the onions.

You can find a few more photos on Flickr.

I am A Geek

Not that there was ever any question, but today I received more confirmation. Google served me this ad.

I rarely read ads, but I took the time to figure out the pseudo code on this one. Someone apparently knows how to get my attention.

My Saturday (in photos)

I woke up Saturday with no real plans. Here is the result.

Coffee followed by a trip to the Lyndale Farmers Market, a long bike ride along the Mid-Town Greenway and the bottom half of the Grand Rounds. Lunch at Sea Salt, a quick stop a Lake Harriet followed by going home to spend the day reading and enjoying a few fall beverages. In other words, almost perfect.

Edit: Yes, that is a craw fish Po'Boy which goes against my attempt at a meatless month. I just couldn't resist, and this was only my second trip to Sea Salt this year. Still, no red meat this month and I'll be meatless for the next three days.

Goals for my 27th Year – Part 5

I turned 27 Monday, and though I know it’s not really old, for some reason it kind of freaks me out. I think it’s the realization that I’m so close to 30, again these things are not important and it’s all in my head, but still.

In honor of my irrationality, I’ve decided to post one goal a day for the next five days. These goals are things I want to accomplish by my 28th birthday. I hope that by putting these out into the public eye, I’ll be able to accomplish them. The first post in the series can be found here, second here, third, fourth.

Note: It has been pointed out that these goals should actually be for my 28th year. Since I turned 27, I am actually on day 5 of year 28 not year 27. The lesson is, of course, that I am not to be listened to.

I've spoken to a few of you regarding these goals and told you of what they were. Unfortunately, I decided to change one due to some potential concerns. If you are curious about this, let me know and I'll tell you, I just won't post it here.

I still have a goal though and it's to try and volunteer more. Currently I donate to a few charities and serve as a volunteer board member of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Volunteering and donating are fairly new to me, I did a bit of volunteering here and there in college but I didn't make a habit of it.

I've decided to try and change that. I really enjoy working with the orchestra to help them put on events, and I feel like I should give back to my community more than just donating financially. Not only that, but volunteering is a great way to make new connections with people who share your interests.

At this point, I'm not sure where I want to try and volunteer. I'm starting to really enjoy some of the museum's around town and have considered looking into volunteering at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts or another museum. I could also volunteer at some other non-profit organization that serves the community.

I feel like this is something I should really work on now as I have the freedom and time to volunteer. I'm not going to set any hard goals for this, but by putting it out there in the hope that if I have if look back and realize I'm still just doing the same thing, I put more effort into finding someplace that I would enjoy giving my time to.

It is a Small World

I apologize if you now have the worst earwig in the world stuck in your head, but I didn't know what else to call this post. Our story starts on Tuesday where an awesome friend of mine scored a +1 for volunteering at First Avenue for the Phoenix show. Now if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that I had been trying to get(begging for) tickets few weeks. So I was very excited to go.

First, the concert was great, Phoenix puts on a great show and you could tell they were excited to be at First Avenue. Everything they played was great. I'd write a big recap but I'm awful at writing about concerts. Instead I'm going to send you to More Cowbell's writeup which was pretty much spot on.

During the show though, something happened that later that week really showed off how small this town really is. About halfway through the performance, I saw the bouncer at the front of the state shining his flashlight into the crowd. Wondering what he was doing I looked behind me and saw this girl on a guy's shoulders. I saw the bouncer yell and then it looked like he headed back there to put a stop to it. At the time I really didn't think much of it, crazy stuff isn't that unusual at First Ave.

The next night I went to Give & Take and participated in a game called "Hi honey, how was your day?" The premise of the game is to walk up to someone you don't know and ask them that question. I didn't know my neighbor so we both asked the question and we told each other about our day. It turns out we had both been to the Phoenix show the night before.

Side note: If you haven't been to Give & Take yet, you should keep your eyes open for the next event in October. It's a lot of fun, extremely interesting, and if you enjoy meeting smart people it's a great place to be.

Now the fact that two people went to a sold out show at First Avenue isn't really that much of a stretch. Yes it's a small venue, but the idea is not outlandish. But then we starting talking a bit more about the show. She started telling me about the show and said that something strange, that had never happened to her before happened at the show. She proceeded to tell me that she was standing in the middle of the floor when suddenly this guy came up behind her, picked her up, and put her on his shoulders.

Yes, the girl who I saw on the shoulders of a guy in the middle of the floor sat next to me at an event the next day. How crazy is that?

Friday Five 9/25/09 Edition

Today's post is going to cause some of you to break into cold sweats. Yes, I know you already have too many sites in your RSS reader, but I'm going to give you five more sites you should be reading.

  • Letters of Note - I've been reading this site for a few weeks now and love it. Some very inspiring stuff. Also some real tearjerkers.
  • Learn Something Every Day - Kaeti sent me to this a while back and I love it.
  • Swissmiss - Many of you probably know about this site, but if you don't and like design you should be reading it.
  • insights outsights - An great collection of photos, quotes, and other inspirational and happy stuff.
  • NPR Ombudsman Blog - A recent discovery, and who doesn't love a good post by a Ombudsman.

Now that I've given you all this great stuff, what are you up to this weekend. Anything fun, exciting, or just plain different?

What's not to Dislike?

I'm starting to understand why those who don't get social media don't get social media. Just check out all these reasons to avoid it.

  • Why would you want to connect with a ton of people from all over the country and world?
  • Why would you want to engage with people in your industry who might one day be a connection to a job or a potential positive addition to your company?
  • It's an awful thing to walk into a restaurant alone at lunch time and find out that someone you've been talking to for weeks about politics, sports, your interests, or current events is sitting in the corner table without a lunch partner.
  • That first real life meetings is always awkward, sometimes these people are actually just as smart/funny/interesting in real life as they are online.
  • Getting tickets to a show through a new friend who happens to know you love the band because you won't shut up about it the weeks leading up to the sold out show feels almost like cheating.
  • Getting a chance to meet an old media rock star who happens to also be a new media rock star in person and then have that person get the bar to sing you happy birthday because the mayor of Minneapolis declared your birthday the rock star's day, well that's embarrassing. (but really freaking cool)
  • It's always better to watch sports without forty other fans to provide commentary, the television announcers are always more intelligent.
  • Raising money for charities was so much easier when you only had to cold call or knock on doors.
  • Restaurant critics who work for a paper always know what they are talking about, a hundred people just like you providing instant feedback is completely unnecessary.
  • Without social media you can still go see the new comedy that came out on Thursday on Saturday without knowing it is in fact, awful.
  • Journalists are the best fact checkers, and having numerous trustworthy sources to tell you someone is full of crap is unnecessary.
  • I'm too busy watching reality television to talk to real people online.
  • Email isn't social, it's communication, and totally different.
  • Social media is clogging the tubes and I won't be able to watch my funny cat videos on Youtube.
  • It's easy to find the best restaurants in new cities, why ask your friends?
  • This Internet thing is a fad and once it goes away you'll lose all those friends anyway.

See there are countless reasons to stay away from social media, stop trying to convince everyone it's cool.

Goals for my 27th Year - Part 4

I turned 27 Monday, and though I know it’s not really old, for some reason it kind of freaks me out. I think it’s the realization that I’m so close to 30, again these things are not important and it’s all in my head, but still.

In honor of my irrationality, I’ve decided to post one goal a day for the next five days. These goals are things I want to accomplish by my 28th birthday. I hope that by putting these out into the public eye, I’ll be able to accomplish them. The first post in the series can be found here, second here, third.

I've been single for quite a while now and though I'm not desperate for a relationship, I need to get myself more opportunities to actually be in one. To this end I'm proposing a goal of going on at least one date a month over the course of the next year.* Now this might seem like a lot to some people, or not even trying to other. But for me it will be a challenge. It's not that I don't have chance to meet girls, or even that I lack the ability to talk to them, it's that I fail to ever actually get a phone number, ask if I can buy them coffee, etc.

This is one goal I'm honestly terrified of because, well it's not like I don't want to date, it's that I don't know how to go about getting many. I've tried the online dating thing and I didn't have much luck. I've gone on two blind dates this year, both of which were fun.

My hope is that by putting this out there I actually force myself to take a chance and actually get a date instead of just saying nice to talk to you. If any one aspect of my life shows my fear of failure it's this, and if I can turn it around by the time I turn 28 I'll be happy.

Of course if you know any available smart, geeky, funny, cute, and independent girls who might want to go on a date with a self professed geek who happens to love photography, biking, music, reading, blogging, and also happens to be a half-decent cook, and want to send them my way, I won't complain.

* Of course this is moot if I happen to have a girlfriend during the next 12 months.

Goals for my 27th Year - Part 3

I turned 27 Monday, and though I know it’s not really old, for some reason it kind of freaks me out. I think it’s the realization that I’m so close to 30, again these things are not important and it’s all in my head, but still.

In honor of my irrationality, I’ve decided to post one goal a day for the next five days. These goals are things I want to accomplish by my 28th birthday. I hope that by putting these out into the public eye, I’ll be able to accomplish them. The first post in the series can be found here, second here.

The third goal I'm publishing is another item I've worked on for years and have never completely gotten a handle on; financial management. I've got a solid handle on my debt this year, killing almost everything off but my student loans. I paid off my car last month which was awesome and now that I can turn my attention to my student loans those should go down quite a bit faster.

Thanks to some changes at my work I've a great start on a 401k and I don't have to stay for five years to take it with me as I would have had to do with our previous retirement program. I also have started putting a good amount of every paycheck into savings.

The things I need to work on are budgets and big purchases. I have a horrible habit of killing any sort of budget I make by saying, well, I'll just adjust it next month or spend less next month. This is especially true of restaurant expenses and alcohol expenses. I tend to go out multiple times each week(stupid social life :P). It's never a huge budget overage but that of course is not the point.

I occasional get a handle on things and go into a month with a nice cushion. The problem is then I decide to purchase something I've been eying for a while. The last few items have been a bike, camera, computer upgrade, and upgrades for the bike and computer. Though I've loved everything I've purchased, I would have been better off setting up a savings account and waiting 2-3 months and keeping that cushion I had created.

So my goals for the next year are the following. The first is to eliminate any large purchases. I'm allowing myself one purchase and that is going to be a fixed focal length lens for my camera. Thankfully Nikon is helping me out by releasing one that is under $250. I'm not going to order it though, until I have money in a separate savings account for this purchase. The second goal is to keep myself within budget. I've been using a lot more lately, mainly due to the fact that I have an app on my iPhone that lets me review it easily. I'm going to sit down and figure out what I can reasonably spend on groceries, going out, and other discretionary spending and work really hard on keeping myself within these items.

One idea I have been toying with is going with the cash only spending method. Only instead of withdrawing $40 and telling myself I can only spend this on the weekend, instead drawing my budgeted amount for each item each period and then being able to see that I have $10 left to go out with. I may try that next month and see how it goes. This also eliminated the problem I have with not being able to track where the cash is going without using my debit card.

This goal is important by my least pressing. But, since I'm so close to where I want to be I think it may be the most difficult. I'd love to hear ideas for managing budgets.