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.

Checking In

Just a quick post to say hi. I've had a busy last few days. Since my parents arrived we've been to Como zoo, the state fair, Walker Art Center(where we saw Solid Gold), Mill City Farmers Market, and the Mill City Museum. Today we are hitting up St. Paul with Mass at the Cathedral and then possibly th Science museum and other places. Hope you all had a good weekend and I'll be writing about some of this week next week.

Friday Five 8/21/09 Edition

Thankfully it's Friday and hopefully you've already read my Guacoff roundup. In honor of our win I'm giving a roundup of my favorite guac additions from last night event.

  1. Pineapple - Adds a little sweetness and best offset with a three pepper blend.
  2. Corn - I didn't like the way it colored the guacamole but it was a great addition
  3. Beans - Flavor and texture
  4. Mango - Similar to the pineapple, but the fact that it's nearly impossible to get a good mango hurt it.
  5. Bacon - This actually worked better than I would have expected. Smoky and delicious.

Guacamole Challenge

What happens when you throw together a group of people from the Internet, some booze, an awesome team name, avocados, onions, peppers, limes, salt, garlic, tomato, and pineapple? Shockingly enough, you get the most authentic guacamole at the second annual MetroMag Guacoff.

Last night was the long anticipate guacamole competition. After hitting up the Herkimer with fellow teammate Doniree, we walked over to Blue and found Kaeti and Emily both ready to go. The event started at six with the teams beginning to prep their guacamole at 6:30. We had 45 minutes to prep and at first I really didn't know if we would be able to complete our dip in time. Fortunately, Kaeti and Emily managed to cut up 40 avocados in record time, and between Doniree, Doug, and I, we had the rest of the ingredients prepped with plenty of time to perfect our recipe.

Once time was called, the tasting began. It was evident from the start that we were on to something. Every person who tried our guacamole walked away nodding their heads in appreciation. It was about an hour and half later when the winners were announced. We were very excited to hear our name called as the Most Authentic Guac even if it was a bit confusing as how a guacamole with pineapple is authentic, but none of us complained.

Even though I'm going to call Guacoff a success I do have to make a few comments about the event. First, the space was much to small for the number of tickets sold. People were packed together like sardines and it was much to warm. I can't imagine how bad things may have gotten if it wouldn't have been a cool evening. Second, things didn't seem overly organized. Our names were not listed at the door so they just had to take our word that we were part of a team, and the organizers at the event didn't know that salt and pepper were on the list of provided ingredients. Thankfully, neither of these became an issue. The only other comment I have is that the chip situation wasn't planned well. Considering we were at a guacamole contest the first order of business after time was called should have been distribution of a large amount of chips to each table. Instead, we had to hunt chips from other locations around the event. This wasn't a big deal but didn't exactly leave a good impression.

Even with my "complaints" I had a wonderful time and would definitely participate as an entrant again. Thanks to MetroMag and all the sponsors for putting this together. Michelle Bachman says our Guacamole has a secret plan to annex part of Iraq already has plans for next year. Granted those plans only include bringing gloves so Doniree and Doug don't suffer for two days after cutting up peppers, but still plans are plans.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Don't my teammates rock?"]Dont my teammates rock?[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The Finished Product"]The Finished Product[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Look at those smiles"]Look at those smiles[/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="333" caption="The Competition"]The Competition[/caption]

You can find all the photos here. Thanks to Andrew for taking some photos while I was prepping.

Hell is Not all It's Cracked up To Be

Yesterday, after all the weather related excitement I wandered down to Moto-I for a chance to try the new Surly Beer that was being released there. I had heard about this earlier in the week and decided that it would be a fun experience. I had tried Surly's Bitter Brewer earlier this year at Common Roots but had missed their 16 Grit release party at Grumpy's in March.

I'm a big fan of some of Surly's beers. I love Furious, really enjoy Bender, and their Cynic Ale is one of the better ales. Unfortunately, Hell was not impressive. To be fair, part of this was my assumptions, for a brewery like Surly, the name Hell seemed to shout flavor. This isn't the case though. Hell is a German Style Lager brewed in the tradition of Munich Helles. It's a little too light for me, though it had plenty of good flavors. I would consider it a fine replacement for the usual PBR/Hamm/Budweiser that I usually take camping.

One thing that I wish I would have done is ate something while drinking it. I had grabbed dinner before I left the apartment in an effort to save money so I didn't try any of the food they were serving with the beer. I think having the right food pairing with it could have brought out some of the sweeter flavors hidden in the beer. Thankfully it appears Surly appears to be releasing it in cans so I may get a chance to pair it with something from my own kitchen.

The last thing I want to say is that Moto-i and Surly didn't do the best job organizing this event. Everything went okay, but they were making you buy tickets for $5 to purchase either Hell or any of the food they were serving as part of the event. This would have been fine, but they also had a full bar available that was taking cash for anything else. They said it was for tracking purposes, but it created a fair amount of confusion earlier in the evening. Hopefully next time they have a better system in place to allow them to track things yet make things simple for their customers. That being said, I did have a great time at Moto-i, which definitely isn't something new.

Tornado!

Well a tornado struck downtown Minneapolis today. I was at work near the Mall of America when it happened and followed the action via Twitter and other sources. I was a touch worried about my place because the tornado struck not far from it. In fact the tornado struck the Electric Fetus which is less than a mile as the crow flies from my house. But thankfully I was lucky and had no serious damage. Lots of other people weren't so lucky and I'm hoping they get things rolling quickly to get their homes and cars back in order.

In case you were wondering, here is the extent of the damage to my place.

A damp floor and damp sheets. Nothing that a fan and the sun can't fix.

Today was another example of how the man on the street armed with the right tools is the best source for news happening now. The media may be able to present it better but following events on Twitter or elsewhere reported by citizens gets you a better picture right away.

No Longer a Fan

Well it's looking more and more like it will be official. I'm once again going to be a nomadic NFL fan. For my regular readers you may know that during the past year I became a Vikings fan. This may not seem like much to most people but it was for me. I grew up in Montana; a state that not only doesn't have a major professional team but doesn't have one in a neighboring state, choosing a team to be a fan of was not easy. Most people from my hometown were Viking, Packer, or Bronco fans. I personally never latched onto any one pro football team, and until I moved to Minneapolis, I planned to keep it that way. That changed last year. I started listening to KFAN, reading more local sports writers, and slowly came around to the Vikings. They had rid themselves of the players I disliked while I was a neutral fan, and drafted one of my favorite rising stars, Adrian Peterson.

So I gave them my support last year and had a great time watching them even though they had too many warts to make a legitimate run as a Super bowl. Then I followed them throughout the off-season and watched as they took our newfound relationship and drove it to the edge of a cliff repeatedly.

It started with the first headline I saw about Favre and the Vikings talking. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the NFL is a business and by signing Favre they are no longer going to have trouble selling tickets. He is also potentially a major upgrade at quarterback and anyone who watched the Vikings last year knows that this is a major selling point. I can see where management is drooling at the prospect of putting him in uniform. However, as a fan of the game of football I can't stand seeing Brett Favre allowed to play this game of chicken. He strung the Vikings along for months while he "decided" whether he could play, then announced that he was done, claiming it was the hardest decision he had made. Well he made another decision apparently, because today it looks as though Brett Favre is going to change his mind yet again and sign with the Vikings.

I have no problem with Brett Favre coming out of retirement. I can't imagine having to quit doing something that I love at such a young age. What I can't forgive Brett Favre for is stringing along both the franchise and the fans for an entire off-season.

If they sign Favre, the Vikings should be ashamed of themselves. They are allowing a look-at-me player choose the course for their franchise. This isn't what I thought this organization was about anymore. They seemed intent on putting players in uniform who were team players. They have the two incredible players in their backfield who happily share snaps, they had a quarterback dual that seemed nearly resolved but didn't appear to create any undue tension, and they have an deep wide receiver corps that looked poised to willingly share catches. It was a franchise I wanted to support. But, if they sign Brett Favre after everything he's done this off-season, I won't be able to support them.

So I'll spend next season watching the Vikings of course but I won't be a true fan, and I'll admit I probably never will be. If I was a true fan this would not an end to our fan ship, I would just shake if off and continue supporting the team. Maybe this turn of events is as much an indictment of my poor support as it is of a team willing to ignore their culture for a chance at a Super bowl.

Friday Five 8/14 Edition

Five Questions for my readers:

  1. What's your favorite recipe or food to make during our hot summer days?
  2. Who's your favorite superhero?
  3. Favorite sandwich place in Minneapolis/St. Paul, or wherever you happen to live?
  4. What brand of toilet paper do you buy?
  5. If you could go back to your senior year of high school and choose your path, what would you have changed, if anything?

My answers
1. Egg Salad, usually in a sandwich but also on crackers, pitas, and even with potato chips.

2. Superman, it may be unoriginal but it's the truth.

3. I'm not much of a deli goer, but the Cheeky Monkey pretty much rules.

4. Target Brand or Charmin depending on where I am.

5. I would either got to school for photography or head off to culinary school. Of course I'm still young and either option is still a possibility. Of course I also love the life I have now so I'm not complaining.

Making Facebook (somewhat) Useful Again

Until recently, I had been struggling with Facebook. I hardly ever logged on and when I did I never really felt like I learned anything useful. I even toyed with the idea of deleted the entire account.

I could not do this though, because my family and most of my close friends use Facebook as their exclusive social platform. This means that if I want to find out what my brother is up to or find out where everyone is going for Christmas I have to be on Facebook. Of course, that information was there, but it was hard to wring out of the myriad of old friends and acquaintances I've gathered since joining.

Recently though I discovered the solution and I'm going to share it with you. It's simple and effective, but it does take a bit of time to set up. The first step is getting your friends into groups. This may sound daunting, but it's worth it. I was lucky to have done this a while ago so I just had to go through and refine a bit. Personally, I would recommend dividing people up by, friends, family, co-workers, and then others. I then created a group called PIWTKA (People I want to know about) and put everyone who I wanted to follow closely into this group.

Like I said, this takes some time but it's worth it. Now after you've done this if you look at the left hand sidebar you will see the groups listed, when you click on the group, only the news feeds from those people in that group show up. This is a useful tool in itself, but I discovered a way to make it even better.

First you have to click the more button below your friend's lists. Then you simply click and drag the PIWTKA group to the top of the sidebar, drop and abracadabra, every time you log into Facebook, you automatically only see those people you really want to know about.
Hopefully, this makes your Facebook use more enjoyable, I know it's done it for me. Oh and while you're at it, why don't you add me as a friend, I may even stick you in my PIWTKA group.

Cash for Clunkers

When Cash for Clunkers first launched I thought it sounded like a good idea. But over the past few weeks, as I started to consider it's implications, I really think it's the wrong way to go. Here are a few reasons I think it's not the program our country needs right now.

  1. We shouldn't be promoting cars - In an era when dollars should be spent figuring out a way to keep us from using fossil fuels, we are spending $3,000,000,000 helping people buy new cars. Granted it's a great idea to remove gas guzzlers from the roads but why not focus on getting more people to bike or walk to work, or start using public transit.
  2. Where are the jobs? - Sorry, this program will not create any jobs, it might add a few people temporarily to dealerships and maybe even a few people will get hired at car manufacturers, but those will be offset but a slight decrease in the amount of work auto repair shops get.
  3. Again, where are the jobs? - At a time when getting people back to work should be a number one priority, we are spending money on a program that not only doesn't create jobs but requires the person participating to have a job. Unless you think car companies are going to give loans to the unemployed so they can earn that $4,500 payment.
  4. It rewards poor decisions - Why should someone who purchased a used SUV 3-4 years ago suddenly get a better resale value than I would if I went to sell my used Honda Accord? My vehicle isn't worth $4,500 but I can't trade it in because it get's good mileage. Granted there are a million instances where our government rewards those who made poor decisions, and I'm more than happy to give my tax dollars to the people who are taking advantage of this program,I just wish we were doing it in some other way.
  5. Debt, again - Have we learned nothing over the last few years? Why would we want to promote people taking on additional debt? It would be one thing if people could trade in their car for a fuel efficient used vehicle and the government covered the cost difference, but instead the program forces you to buy a new car and take on a car payment. Their is nothing inherently wrong with taking on debt for a vehicle, but it seems like something we shouldn't be promoting right now.

All my problems with the program being stated, I have no problem with anyone who takes advantage of the program. I probably would have considered it if I had an eligible vehicle and had been looking to buy a new vehicle soon. My problem is with the Obama administration rolling out a program that does very little good. It's a short term news generating program that won't do much in the long run other than add to our national debt.

Some additional reading:

David Brauer, who participate in Cash for Clunkers write about his experience.

Bob Collins asks an important question regarding the actual environmental impact of the program. (Make sure you read the comments on this story)

MN Reading List Update 8/3/09

Since it's summer not only do I write infrequently I also read less. This isn't to say I don't keep up with my favorite blogs, but I don't hunt down as many news ones as I do during the months of hibernation (aka October - March). But I still run across many great MN blogs and as usual I'm here to share them with you.

As always you can find the growing lists of blogs here. If you have any other suggestions, leave a comment and I'll check them out.