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.

Thoughts On Foursquare Deals

If you don't know what Foursquare is, or you do and are one of those people who hate it for whatever reason, this post isn't for you. If you do use Foursquare or happen to run an establishment that may have a place on Foursquare, I'll invite you to read this post.

I have a problem with Foursquare mayorship offers. As Foursquare slowly becomes a driving force among location based apps, more and more businesses are utilizing Foursquare to increase customer loyalty. The initial way that they leveraged it was to offer deals to mayors. Users can earn mayor status at each vendor on Foursquare by checking in the most frequently over a given time span. Offering deals to them seems like a great idea, it rewards your most loyal customer and makes it a challenge to see who can keep the mayorship.

The problem I have with them is that it excludes other customers who use Foursquare. Especially as the application becomes ubiquitous, limiting your offer to one person is a way to dishearten some of your loyal customers. Some people will go have a drink at their favorite bar every night just to keep the mayorship. They may not spend a lot; they might just take the time to walk in so they can check in and keep that deal. Second, offering a deal to the mayor allows them to walk into the establishment and spend less, and they can do this day after day (of course you can cap the deal, but that is somewhat lame). On the other hand, you might have a couple who comes into your restaurant every Saturday morning for brunch. They don't come in every day so they don't earn the mayorship but they are loyal. If they use Foursquare, it could get frustrating being a regular diner yet being excluded from using that orange "Deal Here" button on the app.

What do I think business should offer? I think using Foursquare as a supplement to a loyalty program is a great idea. One local business that excels at this is The Wedge Co-op, instead of giving you a special discount or complimentary beverage; they allow you to enter a weekly drawing every time you check-in. This is a great way to reward all visitors yet keep things from being exclusive to your most frequent visitors. Another idea for a deal could be to offer a discount or complimentary item based on the number of check-ins a person has.

The point is to not reward your most loyal Foursquare customer, but to reward loyalty regardless of status. If someone comes in five times a month to a restaurant they are a loyal customer, and offering specials that reward everyone can keep new customers coming back to get the perks ever if there isn't a chance they can dethrone the current mayor.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will state that I have received mayor deals. Once at Barrio I happened to earn the mayorship and was actually the first person to use the deal. I've since lost that mayorship. I was also a long time mayor of the Chef Shack and am still treated extremely well by Carrie and Lisa even though I lost my mayorship this spring. Additional, I currently am not a mayor of any venue in Minneapolis. If that makes this post less genuine, then so be it.

California Eating (crosspost)

This is a cross post from my recently launched food blog, Garlic and Onion.

So I failed at writing about my food experiences while I was in California. It was equal parts being busy, having a horrible network connection at the hotel, and not eating quite as well as I expected. I still ate really well, but it wasn't the gastronomical delight I intended it to be.

So here is a quick run down of some of the meals I did really enjoy while I was in California.

Caterpillar Roll, this was very good, it had eel and some other vegetables I'm having a hard time remembering. The part that really stood out for me though was the avocado topping it. It was some of the best I had tasted. Buttery, flavorful, and really put this roll over the top. This was from a little strip mall joint that was within walking distance of the hotel.

Tacos, specifically steak and fish. The steak was kind of blah, not exciting at all. The fish on the other hand was really good. Mahi Mahi, pico, cabbage, lettuce, and a sauce that was just the right combo of spicy and savory. To top it off they were 2.25 a piece on Tuesdays. This was from Cronie's sports bar which was the one place in town I found with extra innings so I could watch the Twins.

Seafood Burrito, this was from a little hole in the wall Mexican place across the street from the office. It was fantastic, a little dingy, an open kitchen, and a serve yourself salsa bar. The burrito was stuffed with rice, beans, shrimp, and fish. Topped with cheese and cheese sauce. It was huge, dwarfing the biggest Chipotle Burrito.

Richard Roll, tuna, lobster, and shrimp. Wrapped in sesame paper and deep fried. Serve with sesame, sweet sauce, and Sriracha. This was fantastic. I'd never had sushi deep fried before, and it was really good. It warmed the outside and gave it a satisfying crunch while leaving the fish perfectly raw and tasty. This was from another hole in the wall place by the office. I was the only one in there when I ate and ended up chatting with the chef about soccer. He was the one that recommended this roll.

This was my favorite meal of the trip. It was a cold seafood platter and it was huge. You had to have two people to order it and it was a good thing they make you do so. Calamari, oysters, mussels, shrimp, smoked salmon, king crab, and ceviche. It was really tasty. I also ordered a cup of clam chowder before the meal and that was really good as well. The place we were at was called Paradise Cove and it was right on the beach in Malibu. Nothing quite beats eating really good seafood while drinking a beer and looking out over this.

The Toaster Strudel

According to Pillsbury's website, Toast Strudels are "your family’s favorite breakfast solution." Breakfast Solution? It's words like this that should make everyone stand up and take notice that the food we have been consuming isn't real. Food isn't a solution, it's not a way to fix a problem, it's a necessity, it should come from the ground, have roots, or eat stuff from the ground that has roots. It should only have other things that follow those rules added to it. Granted their are exceptions to this rule, salt doesn't have roots, some fish eat other fish, and mushrooms are kind of an oddity. But still the point is if it is a "breakfast solution" something is wrong.

What exactly is a Toaster Strudel made of? Well it's true that it does contain flour, bleached and processed of course but it is still flour, and some fruit. Other than that it's a mixture of chemicals, nutritional additives, processed sugars, preservatives, and coloring that are combined into something they refer to as a "breakfast solution".

Now don't get me wrong, before I started paying attention to what I was putting in my body, I used to really enjoy Toaster Strudels, the flaky crust, the sweet fruit, and of course the do it yourself frosting was delicious. It was similar to a turnover, only easier to heat up and take on the road since I sure wasn't going to get up in time to warm up anything else.

So I have a mission, I'm going to develop a recipe that replicates the Toaster Strudel of my youth using only real ingredients. I have an idea of how to do this, it's doesn't seem too complicated, and other than the pastry dough I've actually made everything I need at one point or another.

So stay tuned, I'll post my triumph in the near future.

Goals For A New Month

I've lost the drive to blog. There, I said it. It's not that I don't have things to say, or things to share, it's just a lack of motivation to actually put those things into words. It's frustrating because I spent almost a year and a half blogging 2-3 times per week consistently. I really enjoyed it, I developed some fantastic connections because of it, and I like being able to look back at what I was doing a year ago.

Something changed about three months ago though; I lost my enthusiasm, I cut back on my Twittering, wrote Facebook off, and as anyone who used to read this blog knows pretty much stopped blogging. What caused this change? I really don't know. Many things changed, some events kind of messed with my head. I launched a couple different projects that sucked up my attention for a while, though one of them kind of died on liftoff.(I promise to write in my food blog when I'm back, I have lots of photos to share and stories to tell) This blog, this place that has my name affixed to it, suffered as a results.

Now I'm a firm believer that a personal blog is your place and your place alone, and if you don't want to write then you shouldn't. Still, this blog has been a lot of fun for much to long for me to watch it wither away and die. In an attempt to resuscitate it, I'm setting a goal for myself starting on Memorial Day. I'm going to publish something every weekday until the end of June. It may be something mundane, it may be a list of what I ate that day, or a rant about Toaster Strudels, but I will hit the publish button before midnight Every Single Day.

A few other goals for June

  1. Actually finish the theme for Garlic and Onion and start posting to the site
  2. A minor theme refresh on this site
  3. Get The Tour TC going again, and recruit some new folks to be tour members
  4. Meet 21 new people from Twitter to push my IRL list to 200
  5. Plan a trip home to see my parents

June will also be full of beers on patios, bike rides, photo walks, dinner parties, live music, and other fun stuff. Rock the Garden is this month and Picnic Club and True Blood Nights begin. I'm going to kayak/canoe/boat around the Chain of Lakes for the first time, try and go on a 50 mile bike ride, and try at least 3-4 new restaurants before months end. I'm looking forward to getting back to my city, hopefully my city is ready to have me back.

Spring!

It wasn't that long ago that someone called me a prolific local blogger. Wow, to think that used to be the case. Someday maybe I'll get back to blogging regularly. Until then I guess I'll just stick with posting updates like this occasionally. Here's a quick taste of some of the things I've done the last six weeks or so.

In March I organized a photo walk with some fellow Flickr users. We had a great time. I hosted a small pre-walk at the Car show that was happening that weekend. I took quite a few shots at that walk. The Fairground on the other hand were pretty much a failure for me. Don't really know why.

More pics from the car show can be found here, the fairground here.

I had a fantastic brunch at Spoonriver. The quiche was incredible.

Made some homemade tacos that rocked, even without award winning guacamole.

Went on a few #bikegangrides, and caught some people playing bike polo near Lake Calhoun.

Went to a game at Target Field, I haven't made it back but I will be going to several games in June.

Last weekend saw the debut of my friend Erica's exciting new venture, Foxy Falafel. Seriously, if you like good food you need to go try some of her falafel.

This weekend also saw a bacon themed party, I made a bacon pizza, the highlight of the night for me was the bacon deviled eggs. Yumm

My friend Sarah capped of Saturday by inviting me to her place for a fantastic supper. This was a garam masal cheddar stuffed meatball on a garam masal tomato sauce topping homemade noodles. It was incredible.

They ended the evening with a cheese plate. Lemon Thyme Ginger Raw Milk Cheddar, Domestic Gouda, Merlot Parmesan, and smoked blue cheese.

That's just of taste of my last few weeks of course, still can you see why I'm never blogging anymore.

Target Field

Sunday, I made it a mission to get to Target Field. Ever since I spent a summer living in Helena and going to my cousin's Legion games several times a week, I have loved outdoor baseball. Baseball just isn't the same when played in a dome, and for that reason, even though the Twins are by far my favorite professional team in the cities, I hardly ever went to their games.

That's going to change, probably to the detremit of my budget. From the moment I walked into Target Field I knew I was going to spend a lot of time there. It's an amazing facility that is dripping with history, and made to do one thing, show fans a great time at a baseball game.

Of course the food selection is stellar, and you all know how important that is to me. The beer selection could use some work, though Summit EPA makes an appearance, it's not nearly as easy to find as it should be. I know that most fans probably stick with Bud Lite and it's ilk, but making it easier for me to spend extra to enjoy my beer should get some attention. I tried the Cuban Sandwich and was very happy with it. I could have done without the potato chips that came with it, I'd rather save the 50 cents and have the option to leave them behind the counter.

Other things that struck me included lots of little bars all around the stadium with views of the game. Ledges near food courses that allow fans to eat without going to their seat and still watch the game. A really nice view of downtown Minneapolis. The absolute crazy way it was shoved into the space it occupies. I've read about it so many times yet seeing it from the inside makes you appreciate just how impressive the engineering behind it was.

Sadly I didn't see the Twins win my first game at Target field. They played pretty poorly overall, lot of chances but just couldn't seem to get a hit when it was needed. Hopefully it was a fluke and I'll see many more wins by the Twins at Target Field than I see losses.

*This post was supposed to come with a few photos from the game, but I managed to leave my camera with the photos at a friends house last night. Hopefully I'll publish them in a few days.

On Deciding to Purchase a Mac

I announced on Twitter today that I had ordered a MacBook Pro. It wasn't too long after that that I started getting some responses telling me I just spent a lot of money on something that wasn't worth it*. I've ran into this more than once since I decided to save money so I could buy a MacBook Pro. It seems that many people are under the perception that the cost of the MacBook isn't worth it. So I decided to document my reasoning for purchasing a MacBook instead of a PC (Windows or Linux based).

Construction - What other company touts a nicer looking notebook that's built like that. Sure, you can buy heavy-duty laptops, but for general usage nothing quite seems up to the task like the aluminum uni-body of a MacBook.

Looks - As I stated above the MacBook just looks good. Granted that doesn't actually mean anything performance wise, but it doesn't hurt.

OS X - Say what you want about Windows 7, but Mac OS has been ahead of the curve for years. Not only that but it's built on UNIX so you get the benefits of the a very stable OS without the hassles of the UNIX/BSD/Linux desktop.

Ease of use - I've been using friend's Macs a lot more often lately and once I got over the bump of a learning curve I started to find the OS more intuitive than any others I’ve used. I'll have to relearn a few habits, like the positioning of the close button on windows, but I think I can manage.

Service - What other computer manufacturer has multiple stores around the metro staffed with eager techs willing to help you out. With Mac, you have someone willing to help you a short drive/bus ride away if something goes wrong.

Family and Friends - I'll still be using Windows and Linux frequently, but as more and more of my friends and family purchase Macs I find myself less able to sit down and help them out. In addition, knowing enough about Mac OS to answer question on Twitter and other social networks doesn't exactly hurt my ability to build goodwill.

Apps - Windows may have a larger selection of applications, but Mac OS tends to get some high quality exclusives that Windows will never see. I can't count the number of Twitter links I've hit only to sigh and turn away because the software can only run on a Mac. That list includes Tweetie, TextMate, and Quicksilver.

Community - The Mac community is incredibly helpful and loyal. In fact when I finally decided to buy my Mac Book a lot of people wanted to come with me when I bought it. Who would ever come with me when I went to pick up my Acer laptop from Best Buy?

Let's see, what else swayed me

  • Magsafe power connector
  • Multi-touch Touchpad
  • The ability to run Keynote
  • Time Machine
  • Unix command line
  • Dock
  • Battery Life
  • Environmentally sensitive

Of course, it's not all roses on the Mac side of the world, there are a few things I really wish I wasn't going to have to deal with.

  • Mini-DVI Port - It's annoying that I have to buy a connector for my monitor and TV
  • The fact that the built in battery isn't user replaceable
  • Hard Drive Space - Compared to some of the PC offerings out there, the MacBook Pro is a little lacking

So yeah, I bought a Mac. It just made sense for me, especially as a notebook. Would I have made the same decision if I were buying a desktop computer? Probably not, but I went with a MacBook for the same reason I went with the iPhone, it met my needs with minor fuss better than other products available.

* It should be noted that I used to be dumbfounded as to why anyone would want to buy a Mac. The cost seemed crazy. My mind slowly changed the more I worked on friends Macs and the more research I did.

I'm a guy who has been running Linux on some machine in one form or another for over 10 years. I usually have multiple OSs installed on my main desktop and have been running a Linux media/web/whatever server non-stop for 2+ years. I’ve built the last 4 computers that I’ve owned as well. I’m not scared to get my hand dirty and troubleshoot a problem when things go wrong. The PC model has always worked for me, and I still think it’s the best method for innovation.

I believe in openness, but I also realize that the Apple formula for computing just works. It might not be as customizable or inexpensive as other options but when it comes to getting stuff done, Mac has it down.

Edit: I added the community section seconds after hitting publish.

Not Quite Loving Technology

Well, it's back! It took me a bit but I managed to resurrect this site from the demons of technology. Turns out that my power supply went bad, frying my motherboard and/or CPU. Luckily it appears to have left my hard drive functioning so after purchasing new parts and putting things back together, spending two days troubleshooting what I thought was a bad hard drive, and finally fixing the problem, I have my server back. It's also lower power in comparison, running a 35W Celeron as opposed to the 65W amd processor I was using before.

Other technology things that have me pulling my hair out.

  • My main desktop PC is acting up, nothing I can't fix but still annoying
  • I dropped my iPhone and broke the screen, thankfully it still works
  • My wireless router that is my backup to my server is worthless when being used as a router. Luckily I was able to borrow a router from my neighbor so I wasn't without the internet for a week.

On the positive side I have a Macbook Pro on the way. Nothing quite like a new toy to make me giddy.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me while I was offline for a week. I'll be writing a bit more now that I have things working again.

On the Apparent Demise of This Blog

I swear I'm not trying to let this site die, it's just kind of taken a back seat to a lot of other things going on in my life. Additionally, writing inspiration hasn't exactly jumped up and yelled ideas at me like it used to. So for right now yeah, you get to wallow in the sadness that is my quiet site.

A few things to share.

  • I recently launched a new project called The Tour Twin Cities. It's a combination dining club/review site. It's an idea I've been really working on fleshing out and I would love you to join, offer feedback, try to break the site, or whatever you want to do to support it. I'd especially love it if you joined and came on a tour stop.
  • A food blog is in the works, I have content, just don't have a design, hopefully it will happen soon.
  • I'm purchasing a Mac Book Pro next week if things go well. So all of my followers who think I'm crazy for living on a PC for the last 27 years of my life will be appeased. Plus the ability to go to a coffee shop and work on my own laptop is probably going to boost my productivity. I'm very easily distracted at home for some reason.
  • Finally, I'm going to be spending 7 weeks in California for work. I'm not really looking forward to living out of a hotel room for that time, but the sushi, and the food, and the scenes, and the...yeah, I'll survive.

Anyway the point is I'm still here, I'm reading your stuff, and someday I may actually be the prolific blogger I was for about 13 months again.

P.S. If you happen to be bored on Saturday and want to hang out with some awesome photographers, you should join us at the State Fair grounds for a photo walk. It'll be a blast and we accept anyone. Point and shoots, Digital SLRs, Film, heck I think a sketchpad would be embraced. Deets are here.

Update and Stuff

A list of a few of the things I experienced in the past couple weeks while I've been basically silent around here.

  • Watching one of my best friends deal with the loss of his mother was really hard. This is a guy I lived with for almost five years and I knew how close he was to her. Somewhere he drew the strength to speak at her funeral and it was really amazing. He's a stronger person than I.
  • Running into a friend outside of The Bulldog after finding the bar completely full on the night I found out about Shadow. All I wanted was a burger and a beer and wasn't looking for companionship, instead I spent the night talking Ashley's ear off about this that and the other thing. I'm pretty sure she kept me sane.
  • Seeing friends I hadn't seen in a long time come to Minneapolis to support my friend and celebrate his birthday. The circle of friends I developed in college is incredible.
  • Randomly getting text after walking down Nicollet saying "We see you", weird, random, and coming from some the new friends I've made this year who are pretty cool.
  • Having a high school classmate call me up to hang out on Sunday night, we hadn't seen each other in too long considering with both live in the metro, it was great to catchup.
  • Meeting the founder of Rribbitz to discuss freelancing. It was a lot of fun talking to her, and she didn't discourage me in the slightest. In fact she made a video, which I could barely watch because I hate seeing myself.
  • Having my mother tell me I'm a great writer after reading my post about Shadow.
  • Having another new friend send me an email telling me that this blog is part of her inspiration to start a blog of her own. I think her blog will rock. Now to just convince her to stop being scared and just start writing already.
  • My amazing circle of Twitter followers and blog readers, you rock.
  • The bike ride I went on last night which was tagged bikeridegang. Basically 10+ people met up and biked around Minneapolis, stopping at a couple bars for food and beer. It was the perfect kick-off to my 2010 biking season.

So, I'm back, I'll possibly be blogging about the WCHA tournament, blogging about food of course, and announcing a new project that is live, but not quite ready for prime time. Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone, drink some beer and celebrate the coming of spring.