Pizza Slice Bike Racks at Pizza Luce

A nice slice touch at the Pizza Luce in Hopkins along the Midtown Greenway.

This is a vast improvement over the former Bakers Square. Not just the bike
racks.

My Daily Offers Spending

Just over a year ago, I started snapping up some deals on Groupon and other related services, so it seems like a good time to look back on whether these deals are working for me or not. First, I went to Mint.com and looked up my spending on daily deal services:

Daily Deal Offer Purchases

I’ve spent $1,387 on daily deals over the past year. Since deals tend to be 50% off deals, it’s fair to say that these programs are saving me around $100/month. That is, if I’m spending money on things I would have purchased anyway AND being sure to redeem the deals I’ve purchased.

On the redemption side, I’ve had a couple purchases expire, so my net savings are around $50 less than what I’ve spent on offers. I’ve learned not to buy deals based on optimism, such as kayaking on Lake Calhoun.

Which also ties to the “would have purchased anyway” mindset. Aspirational deals are not a savings in the same way as getting a deal on something I would have done anyway. That said, if an aspirational deal entices me to try something cool, that’s a really good deal.

Daily deals have definitely gotten me in the door of places I hadn’t been to before. Most recently, Sporty’s Pub on Como Ave SE, where I tried their deliciou Hypocrite burger (a veggie burger with pulled pork and bacon). I will be back.

Daily Deals Breakdown

While Groupon is my current top daily deal source, that’s partly because they were the first of these services that I joined. Over time, I started picking up more offers from LivingSocial, and lately it looks like CrowdCut has been my top source for daily deals. In the case of CrowdCut, I think this is because they’ve had a lot of deals near the U of MN, which is geographically convenient for me. I haven’t seen much of interest from The Blind Squirrel yet. It seems like they are a little thin on local offers at this time. CBS Local Offers has a bit corporate for my taste. Glamour Shots? No thanks. Dealstork has been kicking out a lot of spa, photo framing, and fitness center offers, which aren’t really my thing. Perhaps they’ll reach a point where they can better target their offers based on age/gender/location?

Repeat Offers

One thing that I find interesting is that there are a handful of restaurants kicking out offers often enough that now only consider going to their locations when I have a deal. I tend to spend well above the offer’s face value in those cases, and bring others along, so the numbers may still work out for those places. Not sure.

Keiko Fujimori Graffiti



Keiko Fujimori Graffiti, originally uploaded by edkohler.

Being the daughter of a jailed genocidal dictator can create some baggage when running for president of Peru. That said, Keiko is leading in the polls with a few days to go, so a dictator daughter downside may not be a deal breaker.

Pisco Sour Recipe



Pisco Sour Recipe, originally uploaded by edkohler.

View from the Sheraton Lima along with a Pisco Sour recipe from the back of
one of our free drink tickets.

Altitude-wise, it’s easier to breathe here than Cusco.

Smog-wise, it’s tougher to breathe here than Cusco.

There is a ciclovia on the road into downtown from the airport. The top
users were small business owners. As in, people with biked powered food
carts, recyclers, and people delivering goods on various forms of utility
bicycles.

Wheelhouse Restaurants



Wheelhouse Restaurants, originally uploaded by edkohler.

Factors that correlate with restaurants Carly and I tend to enjoy:

– Chalkboard menus (ex. Sea Salt)

– Local seasonal ingredients (ex. The Craftsman)

– Natural light (ex. Today’s view of the Andes from The Treehouse in Aquas
Calientes, Peru)

– Thought provoking napkins (ex. The Angry Trout in Grand Marais)

– Bar seating (ex. Riverview Wine Bar)

– Co-ed bathrooms (ex. Birchwood Cafe)

Machu Picchu Bathroom Lessons Learned

Over the eight hours I spent at Machu Picchu today, I learned a few things about going to the bathroom:

– The only bathrooms are outside the ruins, so you may be a LONG way from the nearest bathroom at times. Like, more than a mile if you hike up the Inca trail to the Sun Gate.

– Bathroom visit costs vary from 33 cents (1 Peruvian Sole for public restroom) to $33 (with lunch buffet) to $900/night (Sanctuary Hotel)

– If you take the public route, you have to decide how much TP you’re going to need before heading in. The cashier controls the rolls.

– If you’d like it folded, you’ll have to fold the TP yourself.

– You get a receipt! To clarify, this is a receipt for your payment; not a receipt for your deposit.

Yellow Pages Spam in Cusco, Peru



Yellow Pages Spam in Cusco, Peru, originally uploaded by edkohler.

Actually, I believe this was a case of paginas amarillas spam. Maybe they
can feed them to alpacas?

Unsolicited print yellow pages spam is not unique to the USA.

Ramp Season in Minnesota



Ramp Season in Minnesota, originally uploaded by edkohler.

I get a kick out of the efforts restaurants in Minnesota will go to put
something fresh and local on the menu. For example, and this time of the
year, ramps are found in a bunch of the menu items at The Craftsman on East
Lake St.

Carly and I to there a few times a month, since it’s a short walk from our
home and always excellent.

Ramps are one of the first locally available vegetables of the spring, so
seeing them on the menu is a reminder that I may be able to take the snow
brush out of the car.

I’ll never look forward to ramps the same way I look forward to the first
sweet corn of summer or apples in the fall, or even beet season in the late
fall, but they are a sign of local seasonal progress. And, I do enjoy the
creativity that places like The Craftsman, Corner Table, and Heartland put
into their ramp integrations.

For example, last week I tried two of The Craftsman’s "ramped up" menu
items: An excellent elk burger with blue cheese and ramps paired with the
ramp Gibson shown above. If you’re your down the ramp, you may as well go
all in, right? I could eat the ramped elk burger every night. The ramp
Gibson? It was fun to try, but once was enough.

What else is out there, or next seasonally in the locally grown food scene
worth checking out?

Fairmont Vancouver Airport TP



Fairmont Vancouver Airport TP, originally uploaded by edkohler.

I think the issue here is lopsided TP rolls due to over packing for
shipping. Throw housekeeping a bone by providing rolls that can be aligned.