October 14, 2018

Minnesota State Mankato Family Weekend 2018

Minnesota State Mankato Family Weekend 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 14, 2018

We had to do some work on the boat trailer this week so I was out on the lake by my lonesome when I saw this guy fly by me.    The air temperature was probably in the forties and the water was probably in the low fifties so I can appreciate it being too cold to keep your feet in there.  I just haven't ever seen someone ride a jet ski with a jacket and stocking cap before.  I think this can be classified as an "Only in Minnesota" thing.

 I was down in Austin, Texas this week for another Oracle training.  We didn't get to go to the mega campus this time, but it was fun getting to see our buildings in Riata Park.

I had the joy of spending a couple of days with my awesome co-workers, Kristi and Kristen.  They're a fun couple of ladies to go through training with together.

We ate at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Cyclone Anaya's where they make the guacamole right at your table.  So much better than the restaurants where they make your guacamole for you in the bathroom.

Every week I keep saying it's going to be the last week I post about our albino squirrels for awhile and then something even cooler happens.  This week, we've had two different albino squirrels in our yard at the same time!  We've been trying to get photos of them together, but they're notoriously difficult to get to pose for us.  This is the closest I was able to capture them together.

On Saturday, we headed to Mankato for Minnesota State's family weekend.  Our son, Luke, is a sophomore there so we went down to embarrass him a bit.  At least he says I embarrass him.  I have no idea why he thinks that.

The student union has a bowling alley, so we went down and played a couple of games.  The competition was pretty intense, but I still lost by a lot.

While we were there, some of Luke's friends stopped by to give him a pumpkin for Halloween which I thought was so nice.  We're glad to see he's hanging out with such good people.

We went to watch Minnesota State's hockey team take on Boston University.

Minnesota State's hockey team plays Division 1 in the NCAA and they have a pretty good history of being a competitive program.  They have a bunch of former players who went on to play in the NHL and many of them have places of honor in the arena.  We were excited for the game to begin.

When I saw the cheerleaders come out on the ice, I realized that I haven't been to a lot of college hockey games.  It seemed pretty cold to be out there skating around in short skirts, but what the heck do I know!  They all seemed to be pretty talented skaters so I'm guessing they've done this before.

The match ended up being pretty competitive so we had a lot of fun cheering on the home team.

Minnesota State started off with a 3-0 lead, but Boston University came back to tie it up in the second period.  At that point, the home team went on to score two more times to bring us to a final score of 5-3 and the victory.  Good times!

October 7, 2018

Hamilton at the Orpheum in Minneapolis

Hamilton at the Orpheum in Minneapolis
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 7, 2018

Miss Sheri has been rapidly attempting to complete as many projects as she can before winter hits.  She just replaced all the boards on our back patio and now is in the process of cutting them down to size.  I'm so glad she's willing to take on projects like this because I'm quite sure they wouldn't get done if she didn't.

Our October get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club was a new adventure.  We attended an event called "Fill The Bowl" at St. Michael Catholic Church.  We bought bowls from local potters which were then filled with various kinds of soup.  The proceeds went to an organization called Rock which supports local kids with meals.  It's a nice group.

Afterwards we headed to the Prior Lake VFW for some good conversation with good friends.  We again had new people show up so the Empty Nester Club keeps attracting fun people.  

We're planning on going bowling in November.  Our group meets the first Thursday of every month.  Follow our Facebook page for details on where we are meeting.  You don't really need to be an empty nester to join us, you just need to want to have fun!

On Friday night, we had a special event planned for the family.  We started at Crave in downtown Minneapolis and got our sushi on.

We then headed across the street to the Orpheum Theater for our highly anticipated trip to see Hamilton.

I've been a fan of rap music since I was in high school, so when I first heard about Lin-Manuel Miranda's cultural juggernaut coming to Minneapolis I was all over it.  It was a challenge to get tickets.  You had to sign up well in advance of them going on sale on Ticketmaster and then be selected in a lottery to have a chance to purchase them.  Even then I had to wait online for an hour and change my selections a couple of time before I finally secured our seats.

It was well worth it.  A fascinating show telling the story of Alexander Hamilton and many of our founding fathers.  I didn't realize there was going to be zero dialog so sometimes it was a little hard to follow-along on where the story was going, but all in all we were quite pleased with the performance.  Such a fun way to learn history.  

We really enjoyed the comic relief brought in by the King of England.  He is played to be a bit of a buffoon, but he's also the most animated character in the show.

With the intermission, the show lasted about two and a half hours but it didn't feel that long.  It was inspirational, interesting, and even a little bit awe inspiring.  I can see why it's one of the most popular plays of our generation.

Our friendly albino squirrel has still been visiting our backyard pretty much every day this week.  I wasn't going to post any more pictures of him, but this guy has just done such a nice job posing for us I couldn't resist.  Although, I think it would be appropriate for him to put on some underwear.  

We're gonna make it after all!

September 30, 2018

A week spent at the Oracle Campus in Austin, Texas

A week spent at the Oracle Campus in Austin, Texas
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 30, 2018

On Monday I flew down to Austin, Texas for a week of training and spending time with my Oracle teammates.  Austin was quite a bit warmer than Minnesota.  Weird how that works.

I met up with my brother-in-law, Cliff Nelson, who lives in Austin.  He told me we needed to go for some authentic Austin BBQ so he took me to Terry Black's.

It was pretty darn good.  We had beef brisket and sausage.  Mmmm.  Sausage.

I've always heard about the bats that fly out from under the bridge near downtown Austin, so I asked Cliff if we could do this while I was in town.  He was happy to oblige.

We stood on the bridge through sunset and then started seeing flashes of the bats whizzing out from under the bridge beneath us.  There were tons of tour boats and people on kayaks below in the water to watch the bats wake up and hit the town.  They were much smaller than I thought they would be, but there had to be thousands of them flying around.  Kind of creepy, but I never saw any come near us.

After the bat show, we went downtown to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar.  Naturally I made a request and told them it was Cliff's birthday.  I thought it was funny when they called him out and had the whole place sing Happy Birthday to him even though it wasn't his birthday.  My prank backfired on me when later in the evening they called up the birthday boy and his friend to have a dance-off competition in front of the whole bar.  It actually ended up being pretty fun.  Lucky for us, we can dance like madmen!

The next morning, I went to the Austin campus to meet some of my teammates and attend a couple of days of sales training.  This place is amazing!  It just opened early this year.  Oracle spent more than $300 million and has created one of our most impressive innovation hubs.  They're already building the next expansion and I heard they eventually plan on having more than 25,000 employees work here.

This is me and several members of my sales team at Oracle.  We worked hard during the days and played hard during the nights.  They're a fun group of people.


When I arrived back in Minnesota, I had one night at home before it was time to leave again.  We headed to the St. Croix river for an overnight adventure to Treasure Island casino.

It's become an annual tradition for us to end the summer with an overnight boat trip with Karl and Tina Zitzewitz.  It was a bit chillier this year than year's past so we sealed up the boat while we made our way down the river for our 3 hour tour.

I always love seeing the old railroad bridge.  We saw a train go over it so we had to wait until that was gone and then the bridge-master lifts it up so we can make our way through to the other side.

We saw an incredible amount of bald eagles on both our way there and back.  We counted seeing at least 25 of them.  Such majestic creatures.

Our most unusual bald eagle sightings were when we saw two of them seemingly stuck in the water.  There were also two more circling above them overhead.  We scratched our heads trying to figure out what was going on.  Eventually we did a google search about can bald eagles drown.  It said there have been reports of bald eagles latching on to fish that are too large for them to carry.  Sometimes in cold water they will hold on too long and eventually develop hypothermia and drown.  Not sure if that is what was happening here, but it sure looked like it could have been a possibility.  Hope the eagles made it out OK!

I always enjoy seeing the monster barges.  This one was going so slow and then we saw on it's banner that it was from a port in St. Louis, Missouri.  That has to be a long trip!

We saw several great blue herons on the trip.  We also saw some pretty good blue herons as well.

We had a fun night visiting Treasure Island casino eating at the buffet and playing some slots.  We particularly enjoyed the Game of Thrones machine and the Brady Bunch one.  Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Both of our boys came home from college this week for different reasons.  We love seeing them when they come home, even though it's usually for a short time.  They usually need to re-stock on something or other and then get back on their way of being independent adults again.  Blue sure likes seeing them.

Luke came home for his quarterly trip to the Mayo Clinic to get his CT scan to keep an eye on the nodules on his liver.  The doctor was somewhat concerned that although the nodules had been stable the past couple of times we looked at them, this scan revealed that they are starting to get a little bit bigger.  He's not so concerned that he wants him to get another biopsy, but we are going to pull in his next CT scan by a month so we can just keep watching them and make sure they aren't going to turn into an issue.  If you can keep Luke in your prayers or send him positive vibes if that's more your thing, we'd certainly appreciate it!

As if on cue, our friendly albino squirrels always seem to make an appearance when we are concerned with one of the boys medical situations.  This little guy stopped by our porch every day this week.  This has happened so many times to us over the years it really feels like it has to be more than just coincidences.  In any case, they always give us a little peace of mind whenever we see them and help us to believe that things are going to turn out to be OK.

September 23, 2018

Mallards on the St. Croix

Mallards on the St. Croix
Todd Swank's Diary Update for September 23, 2018

Work brought me to the exciting city of Omaha, Nebraska this week.  Such a colorful place.

Krazy Kory is also in sales and covers Nebraska as well, so we happened to both be in town at the same time.  We connected for lunch and some pre-sales call pep talks to motivate each other to go out and make it happen.  Which we did.

Luke came home from college for a quick visit so we took him to one of our favorite restaurants, The Outback.  Our waitress, Maddie, was a bunch of fun and ended up hanging out with us throughout the night.  We love waitresses like this!

We are in the process of re-modeling one of our bathrooms and found ourselves at The Tile Shop in Burnsville to make some selections.  Bryan was our salesperson and was very helpful for us in making our choices.  If you're in the market and in the neighborhood, I'd recommend him wholeheartedly.

On Saturday, we headed to the St. Croix River for one of our last boat rides of 2018.  The weather is getting cooler and the water temperature is down to 65 degrees already.  Where did summer go?

Captain Karl was ready to take us for a joy ride.

It was us, the Zitzewitzes, and the Browns ready to go for our 3 hour cruise.  We had a special treat in that Tina's mom was also there for the weekend and she makes boat trips extra fun!

The guys stayed up top while the ladies remained down low.  Not sure if there's any significance to that, but it's just the way it worked out.

Is that a chimney on your shore or are you just excited to see me?

Our destination was Mallards Restaurant and Lounge in Bayport.  Miss Sheri and I hadn't been there before, but Karl and Tina really liked it so we looking forward to checking it out.

I was surprised later in the evening when the waiter brought me a drink and told me it was from a gentleman at the bar.  I asked if he was trying to pick me up or something and he said he didn't know.  So I wandered up there and found one of my longtime customers from Nor-Tech, TJ Hoffman.  It was great seeing him!

We thoughts Mallards was great.  They claim to have the best seafood and Cajun food in the Twin Cities.  I had the Jambalaya and thought it was really good, so I guess I wouldn't argue with their claim.  Good times.