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

Strib Twitter Letter

Dear Star Tribune,

Welcome to Twitter, it has been fun having you in our playground. It is great having people with connections giving us some insight and some breaking news once in a while. In fact I've really enjoyed following the Favre, Rubio, and the Twin's collapse sagas over the last few weeks.

But here is the thing, you're doing it wrong. It's great that you are with us, but, with the way you are currently doing things it's not going to work. Here are a few of the reasons.

  • The number one reason you're doomed to fail is your avatars. You're a media company and as much as I know you hate to think it, to succeed you need people to want to listen to your people. No one really trusts the Star Tribune, yeah you have some cred, but most people are likely to take the word of Lavelle E. Neal, Judd Zulgad, or Sid Hartman over the faceless paper. So having them tweeting is great, and yeah I can look at their names and know whom I'm reading. However, I don't use Twitter like that, and I bet 90% of those who follow you don't either. We look at the avatars to see who is tweeting, currently all I see is Star Tribune, and this just doesn't excite me. Let me know who is tweeting without wasting my time by making me read the name. Let your writers put their face up. You could even use a Star Tribune badge in the corner of their photo so your branding is still there. I guarantee we would all appreciate it.
  • Second, your use of hash tags is a problem. Hash tags are great; they give context to tweets and make searching quite a bit easier. But your insistence of putting "strib" in front of whatever your tweeting about is accomplishing nothing. When your readers tweet about the Twins we hashtag it #twins, you have your writers hash tag it #stribtwins. Now what happens if I search for the #twins, well your writer’s tweets don't show up, and if I search for #stribtwins other tweets don't show up. Kind of a pointless endeavor, you would be better off avoiding hash tags all together.
  • You should also try and have your writers interact with the public a bit more. A quick review of four of your writer’s last page of tweets showed only seven tweets with @ mentions. Most of those go back to their fellow writers. Most readers understand writers aren't going to be able to interact with all followers, but giving it a try will help develop a relationship that you can capitalize on later.
  • Finally, you should make it easier for readers to find your writes twitter feeds. I spent a few minutes looking for this information on your site and it wasn't easy to find. If nothing else, a link to their Twitter page should be included on their profile page right next to their email address.

I hope that you take a few of these ideas and try to improve your use of Twitter. I'll be the first one to say Twitter isn't going to solve all your problems and you also can use it how you want But, if you are going to use a tool, at least use it well.

P.S. I have noticed you are using hashtags without the strib added to them. Keep that up; we appreciate it.

Salsa and Pesto

This Saturday I woke up and headed to the Midtown farmers market. I had never been to this market and was pleasantly surprised at the selection. Lots of good looking vegetables just calling my name. I ended up coming home with basil, cilantro, a ton of tomatoes, green beans, onions, and some sweet corn. My plans for the rest of the day were to make salsa and pesto.

The pesto was very easy, and something I have been meaning to try for quite a while. I used my new food processor and added a ton of basil, some walnuts, olive oil, and Parmesan and Romano cheeses. I actually used some last night for bruschetta and it was quite tasty.

The salsa was a bit more work. I started by blanching the tomatoes to make them easier to peel. After peeling them and getting out the majority of the seeds I added onion and cilantro. I had purchased peppers from the Mill City Farmers Market for chili the weekend before and I added those. I roasted the corn for about 30 minutes and let it cool before slicing it off the cob. A little lime juice and salt and the salsa was done. I was really happy with it and intend on getting more tomatoes, corn, and peppers next Saturday and attempting to can some.

I'm putting a lot more effort into getting to the various markets around town this fall so I can take advantage of the harvest season. Hopefully I'll have more deliciousness to share with you soon.

Also, thanks to Steph who gave me inspiration for the salsa. Her blog is full of great food related items.

I Don't Know Her or Her Friends

Dear Facebook, your suggest a friend feature is the most worthless thing ever.

Here is the deal, when I first joined Facebook, which was quite a while ago, I was friended by some random girl in Memphis. At the time I wasn't picky about who I accepted friend requests from, so I accepted her request and we have been friends ever sense. Occasionally I consider removing her as a friend, but really I see no reason to. She doesn't interact with me, and doesn't post annoying things so I just let it be.

Recently though, being friends with her has given me some insight. Basically it is that Facebook's suggest a friend feature is worthless. For some reason Facebook insists on showing me people that she is friends with. This makes no sense. For one thing, I have no mutual friends with her. Wouldn't that put her pretty low on the list of people whose friends I know. Additionally, she isn't geographically close to me, we've never interacted, never lived within 100 miles of each other, and never attended the same schools. If you were going to choose someone on my friend list to use for that feature, she would be the last one on the list.

So Facebook, here is my challenge to you, write a decent algorithm that keeps stupidity like this from happening. You try hard to sell yourself as a valuable platform, but nonsense like this doesn't help your sales pitch.

Meatless Month

Over the last 18 months or so I've made some good changes to how I eat. I rarely eat processed foods, I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables, and generally keep my diet varied. One change I made, almost without trying, is limiting how much meat I eat. I try hard to buy local meat which necessitates lower meat consumption and I found myself eating meat at every meal less often.

A few weeks ago I got on the scale for the first time all summer. My thoughts "....ummmm....what happened....I....wow". I had undone all the good from last summer and then some. I still felt healthy, but it was a wake up call that eating healthy doesn't mean I can eat as much as I want and that without some form of vigorous exercise I can't maintain my weight.

So I made the decision then and there to do a few things. One, I'm getting back on my bike. As much as I love biking, I have put it off this summer in favor of reading, photography, and cooking. Second, I'm keeping a food diary again. It's what got me where I was last summer. Keeping track of what foods you eat and having to see your calorie intake is about the only way I know to control my appetite. I also decided to try something new this time. I'm going to try and be a vegetarian throughout the month of September. It's day eight and I've done pretty well so far, though I unintentional cheated once so far.

Thankfully I have a huge network of resources to help me with recipe ideas and protein replacement ingredients. If nothing else it will give me a better understanding of what those who choose to not eat meat at all go through everyday. I'm not doing that though, and expect to cook up at least a few pieces of bacon on 10/1.

Como Zoo and The Walker

My parents were in town from Wednesday until Tuesday recently. We did a ton of activities around the Twin Cities, these posts are my recap of the events. I hope that they inspire you to explore your city whether you live in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or anywhere else.

My parents flew in the afternoon on Wednesday and we didn't do much after they arrived. We ate supper at my apartment and then wandered down Nicollet mall, stopping at Brit's Pub for a beer. The following morning we woke up and headed out the door to check out Como zoo. If you haven't been to Como zoo, you should really take the time to check it out. I've been there three times since moving to Minnesota and have had a great time all three times. I recommend going there in the summer and the winter every year. It may seem strange to recommend a zoo in Winter, but if you go on a fairly warm day, you may get to see tigers playing in the snow. Additionally, the arboretum is a wonderful place to soak up some humid air.

After spending the morning into the early afternoon at Como, we ended up grabbing dinner and walking to the Walker Art Museum. We walked through the Quick and The Dead exhibit and then wandered out to the lawn to catch a bit of Solid Gold's performance. It was good start to the week and included two free attractions in one day.

My parents were in town from Wednesday until Tuesday recently. We did a ton of activities around the Twin Cities, these posts are my recap of the events.I hope that they inspire you to explore your city whether you live in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or anywhere else.

State Fair Recap or My Turn to Drink The Kool Aid

This is my first year fully active in the MN blogosphere and I'm shocked at how insane the state fair coverage is. I mean I love it, but it's kind of nuts. But, that isn't going to stop me from writing my own recap.

First I have to make a confession, I'm not a fair food lover, I don't crave cheese curds, deep fried candy bars, or any other food throughout the year. I don't make plans about the first food booth I'm going to run to, I just wander and choose 2-3 things to keep me from collapsing (though I think you could live by calorie osmosis at the fair).

This year I went with my parents who were visiting me from Montana. My dad is a huge fair food lover, and I tried a few new things because he was along. Overall I only tried the following items. Ratings are in parenthesis.

  • Australian Potatoes (3/5)
  • Cheese Curds (4/5)
  • Caramel Apple(4/5)
  • Fries (3/5)
  • Raspberry Milk Shake(5/5)
  • Roasted Corn (4/5)

I also had Beer on a Stick from Summit. This is me and my friend Jason showing off our over priced sampler. (It was damn tasty though, Horizon Red was my favorite which wasn't surprising at all)

We spent a few hours wandering through the animal barns. I hadn't done this during my last two fair adventures and had a great time seeing how MN does things. One thing that shocked me was the fact that the kids brought their pigs out into the public walk ways in the pig barn. I don't really know why it surprised me, but it seemed like a recipe for someone getting hurt. Thankfully this guy wasn't out and about.

These guys were pretty funny to watch. One goat was chowing down on his neighbors hay and they got into a bit of a tussle

I ran into a high school friend who happened to be working at a booth in the Education building, after chatting for a bit we checked out the samples from Pastamore based on a Foursquare tip. I loved the Meyers Lemon infused oil, though I have no idea what I would do with it. We wandered up Machinery hill and I drooled over the giant trucks while the rest of Minnesota got excited about four wheelers and snowmobiles. Oh and did loved the old tractor exhibit.

We finished off the night with my parents getting a cone of Martha's Cookies. These were tasty as usual but still overrated in my opinion. We ended up spending close to 10 hours at the fair, and by the end of the day I felt a lot like this kid who we encountered earlier in the day.

Even though I didn't walk out of the fair feeling like I was going to pop, I had a great time. I'm not much for really crowded places, but I can deal with it at fair time. I took quite a few photos, if you feel like it stop by my State Fair set over on Flickr for piglets, giant stuffed animals, and a girl on stilts.

State Fair Bonus Post

Well maybe bonus isn't the right word, maybe it's a teaser post. Anyway, in honor of the Vikings last pre-season game I present my favorite sighting from the state fair.

Who wants to bet the $80 he saved on a new jersey went toward fair food?

Apologies to those who fervently follow me over on Twitter and saw this on Friday.

Friday Five 9/4/09 Edition

Today includes five things you should check out over the weekend.

  1. An amazing article about baseball that isn't really about baseball.
  2. The New York Times Room For Debate blog discusses the honey bee problem.
  3. A great video from the State Fair, stick around to the end the sunset is worth it.
  4. Martha And Tom calculate the value of the farmers market, The Wedge, and Rainbow. You may be surprised at what they found.
  5. A poster I would hang in my apartment without hesitation.

Finally I leave you a bonus self promotional link to my first YouTube video. I caught a baby orangutan showing off for the crowd at Como Zoo.

State Fair Photos

I'll be posting a recap later today or tomorrow morning, but for now enjoy these photos I took at the fair.

[flickrslideshow acct_name="connerm" id="72157622113616467"]

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy your long weekend (if you get one).

Week with the Parents - Teaser

Well I had intentions of writing about a bit of the past week's events but it's nine and I'm just getting to photo processing. So to prove to all my readers that I'm alive and to give you a taste of what is to come, here is a few of the things I did over the past week.

  • Como Zoo
  • Tried Thai
  • The Walker
  • Solid Gold at the Walker
  • Sculpture garden (day and night)
  • State Fair
  • Mass at the Cathedral
  • Science Museum (including Titanic)
  • Capitol
  • Mill City Museum
  • Mill City Farmers Market
  • Gutherie's Endless Bridge
  • Stone Arch Bridge
  • Introduced my parents to Sake at Moto-i
  • Foshay's Observation Deck
  • Twins-White Sox
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts
  • Lyndale Rose Garden
  • Harriet Bandshell

The next few days will see photos and some words to go with them