August 11, 2019

Kid Rock at Treasure Island Casino

Kid Rock at Treasure Island Casino
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 11, 2019

Luke snapped this shot of a dog in someone's pickup truck.  Not a big deal really, I was just really impressed with how clear the shot turned out despite the fact he took it while they were passing the truck at about 50 miles per hour.  The dog looks pretty happy to be going for a ride.

On Thursday night, it was time for the August get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club.  We went to the new McCoys Copper Pint in Shakopee which was a great place.  They have this really cool rooftop bar we were excited to see.  It looked like a lot of fun.  Unfortunately we had too many people there to actually be able to sit at the rooftop bar, but it looked really fun from a distance.

The Korkowskis had to show up later in the evening so they missed the group picture, but I couldn't go a whole month without highlighting their presence at the event!

On Saturday, we headed to the St. Croix River to go on an adventure down to the Mississippi and then beyond to Treasure Island Casino for an evening of fun.

 We went on the cruise with our good friends, Captain Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  It was a bit chilly on the ride down for the middle of August, but we had a ball all the same.

Of course, we had to snap a few dozen pictures of all the awesome wildlife we saw along the way.  We were again amazed by the number of bald eagles we saw along the shores.  They're actually becoming a pretty common sight any more, but I still remember when they were endangered when I was a kid.  I never saw one in the wild for like the first 30 years of my life, so I'm still pretty fascinated every time we get the chance to encounter these majestic creatures.

We saw a couple scavenging dead fish near the water which seems a little beneath them, but I'm not going to judge.

Not sure what was happening here, but it looked like some pretty important business was taking place.

Another common sight along the river is the trains which we also always seem to go out of way to photograph.  I think Karl thinks we are crazy for continuing to take such boring photos and videos, but I think they're cool looking.

After a three hour cruise, we eventually arrived in Red Wing, Minnesota and at our destination:  The Marina at Treasure Island Casino.  We were there to spend the night and go see Kid Rock in concert!

Kid Rock attracts some people with a pretty specific political affiliation and they are quite outspoken about it.

We watched the forecast all day and were hopeful the 50% chance of rainstorms would go our way.  They didn't.  We got poured on for a good two hours during the show which got to be a little miserable at times, but certainly made for a memorable evening.

The opening act was a band called A Thousand Horses.  I hadn't heard of them before, but then again I'm not really a fan of country music so I guess that's to be expected.  They were fine, but I'm not rushing out to buy any of their albums or cassettes.

Kid Rock came out with a bang.  He's a very talented musician and performer and despite the inclement weather we were all experiencing, he put on a heck of a show!

Of course, he played a lot of his new stuff which was great, but he really started rocking the place when he played his classics like Picture and Bawitdaba.  He skipped a couple of my favorites like Cowboy and All Summer Long, but all in all it was a great show! 

August 4, 2019

A Quick Trip to the Farm

A Quick Trip to the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for August 4, 2019

A busy few weeks of traveling for work brought me to Boston on Monday.  I was only there for a couple of nights for a training and it was really, really hot.

I've never driven from the airport in Boston before so I found myself a bit surprised when suddenly I was in several miles of tunnels.  My surprise turned into a bit of claustrophobia when I looked at Google Maps and realized I was under water at the same time.  So naturally I had to grab my camera to try to capture my moment of fear.  Glad I didn't run into a wall while I did this because that would have been quite a walk.

August 1st brought Luke the opportunity to move into his first apartment at college with a couple of his buddies, Andy and Jackson.  I think these guys are going to have a pretty good time this year.

Luke's excited because Andy had brought his new puppy to come and live with them.  She's a very sweet dog, but definitely still full of that puppy energy.  Ought to be an interesting experience for all of them.

Thursday also brought me the opportunity to go see Avery at his summer internship.  He's working at a company called Trimble doing programming work for them.  They had their annual "Summer Bash" for their employees and the interns were all allowed to invite a guest so I jumped at the chance.  I gave Avery a hard time because he's been working there for a couple of months already, but hasn't done much to decorate his cubicle.  I guess he's a minimalist.

It's a really neat company.  They had set-up a bunch of inflatables and games for the families to play.  I had just come from a client meeting so it was a good opportunity for me to play soccer darts with Avery while wearing a suit.  I still crushed him.

This weekend, Miss Sheri and I traveled to Iowa to visit Grandma Leona at the farm.  It's always a fun chance to get out and enjoy the country.

All week long, I got Blue excited by telling him we were going to the farm to get the kitties!  By the time we actually were there and outside, he was worked up into a frenzy at just the sound of the word kitties.  Needless to say when we actually saw one of them, he took off like a rocket after it to try to introduce himself.  Somehow the kitty was able to disappear in the brush which made for one frustrated dog.  He just wanted to play with him!  Unfriendly farm kitties!  

On Saturday night, our sister-in-law, Laura, and her daughter, Karli, invited us to the local drive-in in a nearby town.  I loves me some burgers and shakes!

Miss Sheri bumped into one of her high school classmates while we were there.  April had told me she and Sheri had played on the high school basketball team together back in the day.  It was fun meeting one of Sheri's classmates.  She went to a tiny high school with a graduating class of only 78 people so that doesn't happen to us very often!

July 28, 2019

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 28, 2019

On Saturday night, we had the honor of attending the wedding of Jamie Erickson & Sawyer VanHecke.  I've known Jamie since she was a young girl so it was a special treat to have the chance to spend this day with her as well as her friends and family.

Jamie is the daughter of our old friends Jay and Carmen Erickson.  Jay and I worked together for nearly 14 years at Nor-Tech and hit a lot of highs and a couple of lows together during that time.  Jay delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech for his daughter that had the whole place in tears.  Such a beautiful ceremony and reception.

We like to get dressed up to go to weddings.  Sometimes we do it and go to weddings of people we don't even know when we are bored.  Thankfully, we aren't bored very often.

Unfortunately for Luke, he had to work so wasn't able to join us for the occasion.  But Avery, Miss Sheri, and I had enough fun for the four of us!

We were lucky enough to have dinner with some old friends, Todd and Tammy Murr as well as their very nice daughters.  We were also joined by Dr. David Bollig so that made the night even more special.  I always have an awesome time with him.

All in all, it was a an incredible event.  You could tell this young couple is truly in love and are destined for long and happy lives together.  They had so many good friends and loving family there to celebrate and support them that it made everyone in attendance inspired and happy to be alive.  Weddings like that are really kind of magical.  Congratulations, Jamie and Sawyer!!

On Sunday, we were excited to attend our very first practice at the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center.  We always wanted to attend when they used to do training camp in Mankato, but never got around to it.  This year, we made it a priority to go there.

   The place is pretty incredible.  They have at least 5 outdoor fields that I saw and several huge buildings which I think house at least a couple more.  It makes it a bit difficult to follow the action when all the players are spread out so far and wide, but we were able to still see enough to get really excited about the upcoming NFL season.  Are you ready for some football?

It's our second season with the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins.  His debut year didn't go quite as planned, but everyone seems to be pretty excited that we will rebound in a big way this year.  Here's hoping.

Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs were one of the highest performing wide receiver combos in the league last year.  There's been a lot of talk about who's going to step up to be the #3 guy around here so it was fun watching the entire group practice together to see who was standing out.  I'm keeping my bets on #12, Chad BeeBe.

Last year around this time, our star running back Dalvin Cook was still recovering from a serious knee injury so it was good to see him in there fully working this year.  When we saw him, he was doing drills lined up against newly signed running back, Ameer Abdullah formerly with Detroit.  They both looked pretty intense and ready to go.

All in all, the boys weren't quite as excited about the Vikings Training camp as I'd hoped.  Avery called it a bit underwhelming and they said it's like watching them warm up before a game.  I'm not sure what they were expecting, but I still enjoyed myself and am ready for the Vikings to start their path to the Super Bowl!

While we were there, Miss Sheri and I were selected as the Best Fans in the NFL.  So we got that going for us.  Which is nice.

July 21, 2019

Rainy Day Birthday

Rainy Day Birthday
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 21, 2019

It was back to Seattle this week for three nights of learning and team bonding for my new role at Oracle.

We were here to visit our newly opened "Cloud Experience Center" in downtown Seattle.  We were there to learn all about our new Generation 2 Cloud.

I'm pretty excited for my new role which I started in June.  I am now a sales representative for mid-market customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin selling our next generation Oracle Analytics Cloud, Autonomous Database, and Generation 2 Cloud Technology Solutions.  That kind of stuff may sound boring to a lot of you, but it's the kind of stuff I dream about at night!

At night, we did team building exercises including a 3 hour "Scavenger Hunt" at Pike Place Market.  This one was unique in that we were split into teams and each group was given an iPhone which instructed us where to go and what to do including taking all sorts of pictures and videos of us being silly in various spots around town.  In other words, it was right up my alley!

One of the tasks was taking a picture showing a "unique perspective" with one of our team members utilizing something in the background as part of the picture.  One of my co-workers thought it would be cool to get a unique perspective with this statue acting as his feet.  

I was feeling pretty thankful when this photo was taken.  Some of my new co-workers really stepped up to help me out after I discovered my iPhone was lost.  I figured out that I must have dropped it out of my pocket when I fell to the ground during one of our video skits.  I didn't have much faith that I'd recover it though because at least 10-15 minutes had passed since I realized I lost it and it was in the middle of a very crowded place.  One of my colleagues though was quick thinking and suggested I use the Find my iPhone feature on his phone and we were able to get a signal of it.  We wandered the area where it was supposedly located, but couldn't place it.  Suddenly the dot started rapidly moving across the park and then stopped in a spot we hadn't been to yet.  Sure enough when I went over there, it was laying on the ground.  I'm sure if we would have started 5 minutes later it would have been gone and I would have had to buy a brand new phone.  So three cheers for technology and kind co-workers who were nice enough to stop playing the game to come over and give me a hand!  There's good people left in this world!!

Late at night, we explored a different side of Seattle visiting the Nest's rooftop bar and it's incredible views.  It was a beautiful sunset!  Then it got dark...

Back home, the weather had been pretty rainy.  Miss Sheri always looks at the bright side of life, though, and was able to catch this beautiful shot of a rainbow adding a protective shield over our house.  

I turned 49 on the 20th. Which is weird. 49 feels old to me. Because I still don’t have things figured out yet. Just
like I didn't when I was 10...20...30... 

I still need a lot more time because there’s still big things I want to do with this life. 

I guess I’d better get going!

It was rainy all day on my birthday, so we opted to just stay inside all day which was fine with me.  There's no-one else I'd rather be with on my birthday than these guys and their mother.

This is a Bird on a Wire.  Or a good start for the first 2 days of Christmas.  Now all I need is another turtle dove and a partridge in a pear tree and I'm all set.