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.

Issues

Lot's of issues today with my server. Ended up building a whole new image and importing posts. I lost Friday's post and a couple of comments. I'm hoping I can get them back in the next couple of days. First though I want to see if this solution works or not. The site is probably going to run a bit slow for the next few days. But at least it will be working. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday Where #14

Here's a fun one, I love the photo itself, but decided it also would make a great Where? candidate.

Remember the location is somewhere around the seven county metro area. Put your guess in the comments, and guess as many times as you want. Ok, Ready, Set, Go!

Hopefully I can go back here in a month and it will be covered in green grass instead of the white stuff. Then again the weather around here doesn't exactly breed hope.

Decoration

I move into my own place next weekend. One of the things I'm most excited about is the fact I get to decorate the entire place with photos and art I like. I'm a big fan of photos. I have 2 of my own photos currently hanging in my bedroom and I love browsing Flickr and starring things I would like to have hanging in my own place. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do as far as sizes, location, and amount of artwork. I'll figure that out once I'm moved in. But in anticipation I did some browsing for pieces I will take into consideration.

First, I actually have a plan for each room in my apartment. For my bedroom I want to do cityscapes. I own a photo of Wrigley field with the Chicago skyline in the background that I love. I think I'll try and get three or four other photos of skylines of major cities for my room. I would love to take a shot on my own of Minneapolis or St. Paul to print and put up, but we'll see. I don't have much success when I try to take photos of the skyline. The bathroom won't have a theme, it just gets bathroom art. What bathroom art is, I don't know, but this and this are examples of it.

I'm not sure what will go in my entryway. That will come together sometimes later. My kitchen is food and drink of course. These three prints are current favorites.

I'm going to try and add two shots of drinks. Maybe some wine and beer shots.

My living room is going to be old and rustic buildings. There are a ton of these and I love them. I think part of it is the fact that I lived three miles from a ghost town growing up. Photos of old barns, houses, and other building always intrigue me.

Some others

Of course there are hundreds if not thousands of great pieces of art out there for me to choose from. Of course if someone wanted to buy one of these pieces for me, I would be extremely happy.

Supporting Sports

On Sunday, I tweeted about an article on ESPN about a high school basketball game in which a student missed two free throws intentionally so a player from the other team could check into the game without penalizing his team. The player that wanted to check in had just lost his mother and hadn't planned on playing. After he changed his mind the referees had to give out a technical foul to his team.

I noted in my tweet that I considered this an example of the reasons we need to keep sports in school. I did make sure I made it clear I didn't think it had to be the school system that had the sports team. But I do think sports are very important for many reasons. Later that night @brojohost commented that he disagreed with my position. He gave an example where his school cut his Russian language program while funding the sports program. While I respected his opinion, I had to respond and Twitter was not the medium to do that.

Before I get into my reasons for saving sports, I want to make a few things clear. First, I understand many of the arguments for eliminating school sports. It creates superstars who everyone loves and leaves those not athletically inclined outside this group. Parents take it way to seriously, injuries occur, and yes it's expensive. I know many people can give a thousand different reasons sports should go. But here are my arguments for keeping sports.

First, sports teach life lessons. When properly coached, players on sports team learn a ton of lessons. Team work is just the beginning. Players learn to respect their opponent while trying to defeat them. They learn competition occurs not just against other teams but also within their team. They also learn the unfortunate fact that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you just don't have enough natural ability to be the best. Anyone who hasn't participated in sports who says that's a problem with sports forgets that this fact occurs in every walk in life. Great cooks generally have unbelievable taste sensitivity, being able to pick out individual flavors where the rest of us just taste the dish. Great musicians usually have a innate since for tone. The list continues, but sports also show that with hard work, you can overcome your natural deficiencies and though you may not be able to be the best, you can compete at their level.

Second, sports get our children active. We consistently decry the obesity epidemic in this country, and if we expanded our sports programs this would help solve the crisis. Kids used to go sit in a classroom and then go home and help dad and mom run the farm, clean the house, or other tasks. As we automated our lives kids stopped working at home. Getting kids out on the playing surface whether it is ice, grass, or hardwood is an important first step in keeping them fit.

Third, sports bring people together. If you don't believe me, go to a small town when the high school hockey/basketball/football team is playing. If it's anything like my hometown, the majority of the town will be at the sporting venue, regardless of whether or not their children are playing.

Finally I am going to make an argument that I know will get some of you riled up. Sports are more important to a students development than many progressive education programs. Human civilization has always had competition between individuals. Throughout history this has occurred not through the burning of energy during a basketball game but in training for war. Sports teach many of the same lessons learned in military training and these lessons are useful in all walks of life. Of course the lessons sports teach can be learned elsewhere. In fact I think one of the most under appreciated disciplines we teach in school is music. Learning to play an instrument or sing with a group of your peers teach many of the lessons I feel sports teach.
Now I'm not saying that learning Russian or other training isn't important. But many of the progressive programs that people think we should fund instead of sports are just that disciplines. Learning Russian will help you appreciate other cultures, probably help you if you want to learn another language, and may even help you in other ways. But you aren't going to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, or competition.

In my opinion this boils down the argument that should be taking place about our education system. We should stop focusing so much on teaching facts and more on teaching life lessons and how to learn. Instead of telling our students to memorize formulas, facts, and figures, we should be teaching them problem solving skills so they can solve problems they haven't encountered before. Sports do this, a coach can't teach a player how to handle every situation that will occur in a game, so players have to learn how to think on their feet. If they don't solve the problem they don't just get a lesser score on a test, they disappoint their teammates which is going to make them try that much harder. By trying harder they are more likely to succeed and the more often they succeed in unexpected situations the better they will perform in these situations overall. This includes things like math, English, and even learning Russian.

Of course I could write a whole post about the problems sports have. Competition is great, but unfortunately we see too many instances where parents, coaches, and schools take things way to seriously. Yes, players should try to win, but we need to quit putting pressure on the players. Only the coach and teammates should be doing that. On the other hand we also need to stop worrying so much about making the losers feel good. It's okay for players to be disappointed when they lose, this will only make them try harder next time and they learn from defeat.

So there is my argument for keeping sports in school. I understand there is a funding issue and if we can't educate our students with the funds we have then sports should be considered as a possible candidate for reduced funding. Shouldn't be building palaces for high school sports when we can't purchase new books for the classrooms. Maybe we shouldn't allow sponsors and donors to specify that their funds can go toward sporting events so we can use some of the money for other things. But getting rid of sports in their entirety isn't the answer either. Education shouldn't be only about math, science, and English. We need to make sure our kids are ready to succeed in a world where knowing how to calculate the area of a square or write a novel just isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. We need to focus on the basics and sports are a great way to get there.

Costume Creation

Two weeks ago I posted a request on Twitter for sea themed costumes for a party I was going to. I received many great ideas. Unfortunately, I wasn't very prompt in getting something together so I didn't get to use them, but I ended up coming up with my own idea.

I was walking into Target thinking I would get some stuff and throw together a beach bum costume. I wasn't happy with this option, and my mind wandered to Robinson Crusoe. Of course that led to Castaway and then inspiration struck. I would go as Wilson. One white shirt, some Sharpie work, and presto I had a costume. I didn't win the costume contest, but got a lot of compliments.

On Leaving Burnsville

I get the keys to my new place next Thursday. I'm really excited for many reasons. One thing that I realized I kept going back to was the fact that I'm getting out of Burnsville. Anyone who I've talked to about my planned move in the last few months knows my dislike of this suburuban community, but I need to be sure to give it some props. There are a few good things, and I should give it some credit.

  1. Cub Foods and Target - I love the Cub and Target in Burnsville. Both stores are always well kept, clean, and stocked. Both stores are busy, but not too busy. I find the staff at both locations to be some of the best around. I'll miss the Cub down the street.
  2. The Caribou off Nicollet and Burnsville Parkway - This location has the coffee temperature right, the evening staff is nice, and they always ask if I need my travel mug rinsed out. They have great service, but need to serve French Roast more often.
  3. Red Lion Liquors - For a small liquor store this place rocks. The staff is knowledgable. They have a great beer selection, including a solid selection of local brews. Their wine selection is excellent to. I'm going to miss them, though I know there are great liquor stores in Minneapolis to. I
  4. Valley Natural Foods - My introduction to the world of co-ops. I didn't shop there nearly enough, but when I did I was always pleasantly surprised. I'm looking forward to The Wedge being within walking distance.
  5. The Atlantis movie theatre - This is a new theatre that was built and opened in the last year. It's not the greatest theatre in the cities, but it's really nice, and they let you get free refills on your soda regardless of the size. Someday they will open their bar and restaurant, which will make it a convienent one stop destination for unimaginative but fun date nights.

I will be posting a list of things I won't miss sometime next week. Also, don't expect a lot from me next week, I'll get a Where? up, but that's probably going to be the extent of my posting.

Thoughts and Links 3/5 Edition

It's been a while since I posted one of these. The Internet is littered with great content, here is just a taste. Remember, you can always follow my shared items for more links.

  • The Big Picture has posted one of my favorite photo sets yet, Robots.
  • If you have a website and you Google Analytics, here is a guide detailing ways to find out too much about your readers.
  • NPR has a great site detailing the Presidents proposed budget.
  • An awesome poster for Photoshop shortcuts.
  • My friend Marissa is raising money for Habitat for Humanity, consider making it your cause for the month.
  • Emily shows you how to make a crappy day better with food complimented by beer.
  • Cheap Healthy Good writes about homemade pizza. I'm trying this sometime soon.
  • In another food related post, Lifehacker posts about bulk breakfast burritos. This will have to do until Chipotle gets their act together.
  • Spring in St. Paul, a photo. Which of course makes the waiting even more unbearable.
  • Over at the new MN blog ambulancedriver.net, Duke writes about his encounter with a state legislator.
  • Fivethirtyeight interviews the representative from my native state. John Tester is an interesting guy.
  • Another amazing photo, this time of the blue winter sky of Minnesota.
  • Ryan Air is not exactly up to speed on the whole blogging thing.
  • I have nothing else to say except Bacon Stuffed Waffles

There you go, another list of links to keep you occupied while waiting for the weekend to get here. It's Friday tomorrow, and now you have a recipe for bacon stuffed waffles you can try on Saturday morning. How can the next 3 days get any better?

Wednesday Where #14

I never imagined I'd get to a 14th edition of this series. I started it as a way to show off my photos and see if I could get a little interest. You have all made this a lot of fun. This week the photo was taken on Saturday. I went out with the intentions of taking a bunch of photos, but didn't get many. Thankfully I was able to get this one which is not only a great addition to the series, but shows off the amazing sky we had Saturday.

As usual, leave you guess or guesses in the comments. I'll post hints if it gets to that point. Have a great day everyone.

Advancing the Career (or possibly failing to)

I recently applied for a new position within my company. I had applied for this position previously, but failed a written test necessary for consideration. Thankfully, the position reopened this month and I was able to retake the test, and this time I passed easily. The second part of the selection process is a behavioral based interview (BBI). This is what I was doing today.

The BBI was one of the most stressful things I've ever done. A few factors played into this. First, it's not like a normal interview. You don't just sit down and discuss your work experience, what you feel is your best strength, and other such nonsense. Instead, they ask you specific questions and want specific answers. They want you to talk about what you did in a specific instance to illustrate that you have a specific quality. The interviewers give you a score based on your response, and you need to score well to advance. Secondly, all of our current supervisors recently had to pass this exam (don't ask, it's a long story). Out of seven individuals, only two passed the first time around. This shows just how difficult the process is.

I walked into the interview this morning incredibly nervous. I ended up doing ok in my estimation, but I don't know how I actually scored. I will be honest and say that if I don't pass the interview I won't be surprised. I can retake it again and the process was great experience. On the other hand, I would really like the opportunity to advance my career and passing this step would put me in position to do this. I also hate when I hear I fail, so even though I've prepared myself, I still know it will hit me hard if they tell me I didn't pass.

One of the things I realized when preparing for this process, was I don't do well at tooting my own horn. Granted my friends will tell you I think I know everything, but in all honesty, I don't ever think about things I did as exceptional. I hardly ever remember things I did that showed my leadership capabilities, or times I had a disagreement with my manager. I let things like that just happen and don't remember them. I think I need to start keeping a list of the things I do so I can refer back to them in these situations. Do any of you keep track of times you stood out in your job, even if you don’t think you went above and beyond what needed to be done?

I Need A Hobby

I need a hobby. Of course this site is a hobby, photography is a hobby, and occasionally coding is a hobby. The problem with all of these is that they require a computer. I need something I can do without sitting in front of a screen using a keyboard and mouse. Here are a few ideas I've had or people have recommended.

Any other thoughts. My criteria is reasonable startup cost(<$100), can be performed in an apartments, and can't involve a computer other than for research/recipe/how-to searching.