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.

On Twitter - A Look Back

During the redesign of this blog, I put a bit of effort into my archives view. Instead of a drop down list of months I created a single page broken down by month with every single post I have published to this blog. Not only does this give someone who doesn't know anything about me a place to discover some of my older writing (I haven't decided if this is a good thing or not), I got to look over some of my old titles and of course clicked on a few.

This led me to a post entitled How Twitter brought me back to Social Networking. I had forgotten about this post, but not about the sentiment behind it. A quote from the post goes "my network started to grow, I now have 33 followers, and have updated almost 200 times". Those numbers are quite a bit bigger now, as of the time this post was written I have 1,474 followers, have updated 27,879 times and follow just over 1,000 people. I've met hundreds of followers offline and some of my best friends were met through Twitter.

The sentiment of the old post was that Twitter got me interested in being social online again. If I was to rewrite that post today, I'd conclude that Twitter got me interested in being social offline. It's amazing the power 140 characters can have.

Retaking the Internet

This past week I sat down and did some serious thinking about my online presence. I did a review and realized that along with this blog, MSP Street Food, and Active First Dates, I had another four domains I was attempting to provide content for. On top of that I have at least two other projects currently in the pipeline that I hope to launch by the end of this year. Things were getting a little out of hand.

After considerable thought, I made a few decisions. This blog will once again be my central repository for my online postings. Whether writing about food, technology, or my day to day activities, these things will happen here. This means that I'm shuttering Garlic and Onion. I'll be slowly moving a few of the posts from over there to this site. Thankfully I never did get into the food blogging mentality so it won't take long. I'm also shuttering my two technology domains. I have a grand plan for these domains, but it won't be happening for at least a year or two. I also closed sloped.me and turned it into a personal URL shortening service, and will be using connermccall.me as a utility domain.

So as of this moment, my online presence is a lot more structured. I also redesigned this blog to let me use it in some interesting ways. If you follow the site you'll notice photo and food posts will look a bit different than other posts. I have the ability to easily change add additional formats if my needs grow as well. WordPress does make my life easier.

Anyone who finds themselves in control of multiple domains for personal use should reevaluate their online presence every two or three years. Those of us who live and breathe the Internet tend to start multiple projects, see where they go and drop them. Closing these sites down and collecting deserving works in one place is a good thing. Internet housekeeping goes beyond Googling yourself once in a while; like spring cleaning, occasionally the dust bunnies need to be blown away.

Book + Grass + Lake

This photo sums up what I love about spring and fall. It's warm enough you can sit outside yet not so hot where you go running for shade after ten minutes of reading. Pure happiness.

Weird Food

The other day I posted to Twitter the idea of starting up a reoccurring event call Weird Food Wednesdays. The idea was to get together with a few friends, four or five at the max, and try some of the unusual food that is available in restaurants around the Twin Cities. This prompted an interesting take on what food is is weird.

The whole idea of this event came about the week before. My family had been in town over the weekend. My family isn't a timid bunch, but when we had dinner at Tilia, the idea of trying escargot didn't win the night. I would have ordered it in a heartbeat, but since I live here and can go back and try it anytime I want, I didn't push it. Additionally, I went to dinner at The Bachelor Farmer last Saturday and noticed they had bread and marrow on their menu. I was intrigued but my date wasn't exactly sold, so I passed with the promise to regale her with tales of how delicious it was when I went back without her.

This means that my list of dishes for this event contains escargot and marrow. Neither of which is really that odd to me, even if I haven't tried either of them before. The label of weird was applied only due to the fact that when I saw the on a menu for the first time, my dining companions thought I was a bit odd for wanted to come back and try them. Interestingly enough when I brought up escargot, the dish I consider the odder of the two, at least one Twitter follower claimed she didn't think it was weird.

I guess that proves the point that weird food is relative. Which means that my little club will probably involve a healthy amount of debate as to what is weird enough to put on the list. Which is really half the reason I want to start this club.

Archives

A Little Cross Promotion

Last week I announced to the world my latest project. I've spent the last 7 weeks working on it and I was excited to show it to the world.

What is it? Well, some you might know I'm obsessed with street food. I set out to create the definitive street food directory for Minneapolis. Doing that I created The Minneapolis St. Paul Street Food Directory.

I'm really proud of the functionality. I'm hoping to have a new design soon. But please go check it out and share your thoughts. It's a constant work in progress right now, and it's been a fun few days post launch.

Font Family Updater

I wrote this plugin because the new fonts in 3.2 version of wordpress are difficult to read in the HTML editor. Reverted them back to the font families used in 3.1. You can download it at wordpress.org.

How to Behave in an Airport (and on a plane)

  1. Do not argue with the ticketing agent about your bag weight. Just because your bathroom scale said it was 49.5 lbs, does not mean that they are going to allow you to get away with it showing up as 52 lbs on their scale. Is it ridiculous that you have to remove an item and stick it in your carryon? Yes. Can the ticketing agent do anything about this? No.
  2. Do not argue with the TSA. Security rules are ridiculous, but they are the rules. They are meant to keep you safe, and the person you are arguing with is in charge of keeping bombs off the plane. Do you really want to waste his or her time arguing about your toe nail clippers?
  3. When walking to your gate, either walk quickly and with purpose or move to the side. Many people in airports are trying to make it to a flight on time. Respect that, and if you aren't in a rush don't hold them up.
  4. For the love of all that is good, if you are on an escalator or a moving walkway and just standing there, get out of the way. See item 3.
  5. You don't get an extra carry-on. You get two, like everyone else.
  6. Yes, you are clever and saved a few bucks by not checking your 50 lb roller bag. Now you have to gate check it. Deal with it.
  7. You will likely have to sit next to another human being at the gate; don't take up four seats with your bags. Also, don't act like you are inconvenienced when a 60 year old woman asked you to move one of them.
  8. Move to the side as you stow your carryon. Also, try sticking it under your seat. Whatever you do, do it quickly and sit down so the people behind you don’t have to stand still for 5 minutes.
  9. Don't change seats willy-nilly. If you want to sit next to someone you know, wait until the person you want to switch seats with shows up and ask. You'll probably be rewarded.
  10. Get off the phone.
  11. Do not lean your seat back before takeoff. You're just going to have to put it up before takeoff anyway. In fact, you should avoid leaning it back in general; it’s just irritating for the person behind you. Did you notice there is no room on the plane?
  12. Turn off your portable electronics when told. Yes, the chances of it causing a problem are tiny. On the other hand the chance you look like an arrogant ass if you don't turn them off is about 100%.
  13. Listening to music is great, but please keep the volume low. We don't need to here the latest remix of Bieber's greatest hits.
  14. When the plane lands and you turn on your cell phone, turn off the sound. The entire plane does not need to know you received four text messages, six emails, and a voicemail while in the air.
  15. As when entering the plane, be efficient. Every moment you spend rummaging around the overhead bin is a moment longer than the rest of us want to be on the plane.
  16. At the baggage claim, stand back about 3 feet, the belt moves slow enough that you will still reach your bag in time, and no one will have to push you out of the way to get their bag when it gets there before yours.
  17. Thank airport and airline employees. Travel sucks, and 90% of them probably agree with you that the rules that make it suck could be disregarded. Make everyone’s day better and don’t take it out on them.

I Bought a Kindle

I bought a Kindle last week. It took me a long time to actually do it, but after spending quite a bit of time debating the pros and cons, I went for it. A few things that sold me on it.

  1. Traveling - A few weeks ago I traveled for work and didn't want to check a bag, by the time I had my carry-on and personal item(laptop bag) packed I had no room for a book. I also find myself bringing two books everywhere when I traveled since I was usually half done with one before I left. That's a lot of extra weight.
  2. Project Gutenberg and other free services - There are a lot of classics you can read for free. I tried reading them on my iPhone and on my computer, neither felt right.
  3. I could get my Instapaper articles on it. This was what pushed me over the top. I push a lot of web articles to Instapaper. The ability to read these while sitting at a coffee shop or on my couch sounded amazing.

Now that I have it, all those items from above were proven correct. Here are a few things that surprised me.

  • I don't miss the tactile feel of books at all
  • Reading in bed is 99% easier on the Kindle. You can position yourself however you want and not worry about losing control of the pages and having to find your place again.
  • Breakfast with the Kindle is amazing. Since you don't have to hold it open, you can read with both hands free.
  • Even though I have a dozen books and articles waiting for me, the lack of any sort of status bar means I forget I have the option to back out and start something new. I was sort of worried my lack of attention span would be affected by those books being a few clicks away.
  • I feel like I read faster on the Kindle. I'm not sure if this is true, but it feels that way.

There are a few things I don't like. The organization of your books on the device isn't my cup of tea. I want folders and as far as I can tell you can't have them. The transition between pages is always distracting the first three or four times every time I pick it up. Finally, the eBook format makes it easy for authors to self publish, which is obviously great, but has a downside. I bought two books for a few bucks each that were highly rated on Amazon and they were not very good. This surprised me. I'm going to have to be a little more selective with my purchases going forward.

One last complaint. I don't like the fact I can't purchase my books from a local book store. I want to support my local businesses, but this device makes that tough. I would like to see publishers go the way of the music companies and offer electronic editions of their books alongside the print editions. It would be great if I could buy a book I know I'm going to love, get the print edition that I can loan to a friend, an electronic edition I can take with me anywhere, and also support my local bookstore. I think a few publishers do this, but I'd like to see it become an industry standard.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy my Kindle. I've had it for less than a full week and I already consider it an essential gadget. Anyone who argues that they will never give up books for an eReader has never tried one. The convenience factor is amazingly high.

Sometimes I Walk

Sometimes I walk
I step out my front door, no destination, no place to be
It's summer, a breeze rustles the leaves
Sounds of kids playing, dogs barking, and people laughing
Spinning mind starts to slow
I find a thread and follow it for a block or two
It calms me, watching the sidewalk retreat beneath my feet

I walk
Thoughts I had, worries, frustrations pounding at my skull stop
I focus on the grass, the flowers, the trees.
On catching the eye of a pretty girl who passes, saying hi
Not to meet her but just because
I watch the street pass on my left

I make plans and toss them aside
Archive ideas, remember snippets of the weekends conversations
I stop for a snack
Flirt with the barista
Wave as I walk out

I pretend I'm in Paris or New York or the woods
I long to leave the city
It passes
I embrace the sounds, the smells, the people, the activity
I remember why I love it
I walk on streets I had forgotten
Had never seen, had only driven down

I wave at my neighbors
Check my mail
Look back and smile

Sometimes I walk but I should walk more

I'm late to the #30daysofcreativity project, but I decided to join.