October 17, 2021

A Visit To Surly Brewing Company


A Visit To Surly Brewing Company
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 17, 2021

We visited a couple of new restaurants this week that I really enjoyed.  The first is a new place in Prior Lake called Pau Hana.  They call their style of food Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and I really enjoyed it.  I had the Poke Stack and the Loco Moco.  Both were Muy Bueno!    That's what I like to say to the locals whenever I'm in Hawaii.

We were joined at Pau Hana by our good friends, Tom & Kellie Wolf.  We always have a great time with them.

My son, Luke, works at a local bank.  Sometimes when I stop by at the ATM, I peek into the window to see if he is happening to be working the drive-through.  This week I got lucky and was able to sneak a couple of pictures of him.  Then I took off like a rocket before security could catch up to me and ask why the heck I'm taking picture inside the bank!

On Saturday night, we visited a place I've been wanting to frequent for a long time.  The Surly Brewing Company!

The Surley Brewing Company is a $20 million craft brewery which opened in 2014 and has a 350-seat beer hall, a pizzeria, an events center, and retail store.  They also have the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer including my favorite IPA, Surly Furious.

We were joined for the evening by our old pals, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  They're always up for an adventure!

We started the evening with a beer on the balcony which gave us amazing views of the nearby Grain Silo.  

 We eventually were seated for dinner and enjoyed the Hog Frites & Pierogies for appetizers.  For an entrĂ©e I had the Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich which was actually pretty spicy.  I guess that's why they call it Hot.

After dinner we wandered over to the nearby O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co for a nightcap.

We enjoyed the atmosphere here.  It wasn't quite as crowded as Surly which gave us the opportunity to have some nice chit-chat & laughs.

I've been wanting to visit Surly Brewing Company for awhile now and glad to have finally had the chance to make it happen.  If you're looking for a fun restaurant & microbrewery experience in the Twin Cities then you won't go wrong by giving them a visit.

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October 10, 2021

A Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Game


A Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Game

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 10, 2021

On Monday night, we were invited to attend the pre-season opener of our hometown Minnesota Timberwolves.  We're not special or anything.  I usually buy some games each year and giving us a free preseason game is their way of reminding me it's time to buy some tickets again.

Masks are still required at Target Center so we had the joy of pulling these out again.  It's been awhile since we've been to a place that required them, so that was fun.  

The Timberwolves have had a long history of being a poorly performing team, but this year feels different.  We have a lot of good, young talent and they're gonna be a fun team to watch!

One of my favorite players is last year's Rookie of the Year runner-up, Anthony Edwards.  He's a very talented athlete. 

Anthony is really fun to watch and has a unique perspective which makes his interviews pretty entertaining as well.  Matching him up with our all-star center, Karl-Anthony Towns, gives us a pretty solid core to build around.

Anthony's youthful energy is contagious and the other players always seem to follow his lead on things.  Like when he brought out his pet hamster to show the coach, all the other players excitedly gathered around to get a look for themselves.

One of our newest players is Patrick Beverly who is a wily veteran who played for the LA Clippers last year.  He seems to have taken Anthony under his wing and I think he'll be a great influence on him especially on the defensive end of the floor.  The Wolves have long needed to be better on defense, so I look forward to seeing how this progresses.

Chris Finch is a relatively new coach for us.  Technically this isn't his first year as our last coach, Ryan Saunders, was fired mid-season last year and Finch was brought in to replace him with mixed results.  It will be good to see what he can do with a full season available to him.

Since it was only a preseason game, it didn't seem to matter who won or lost.  The Timberwolves did show a lot of potential and ended up winning the game 117-114, but the Pelicans didn't even play their best player, Zion Williamson.  He seemed to be pretty happy to be there and sitting on the bench, though.

I have no idea what Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor's wife said to him, but he seemed pretty shocked by it.

Karl heard it.  He seemed to find it pretty funny.

On Thursday night, we connected with our old friends, Cathy & Jeff, at Celt's Craft House in Apple Valley.  We hadn't seen them since before Covid so we had a lot of catching up to do.  Good times!

I zoomed in on the crescent moon on Friday night and caught this photo.  I like how it turned out.  Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars!

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October 3, 2021

Bill Burr and the Vikings Browns Game


Bill Burr and the Vikings Browns Game
Todd Swank's Diary Update for October 3, 2021

We saw this crazy character sitting next to the sidewalk during one of our walks this week.  He was totally mellow laying in the grass so we just let him be & didn't mess with him.  I don't know about the rest of you but whenever I see one of these, I always have a strong urge to try to tickle his nose with my finger.  I think that would be a lot of fun.

We'd been looking forward to Saturday night for months.  Luke & his college roommates discovered Bill Burr on Netflix by watching his comedy specials.  I was familiar with him from The King of Staten Island, The Mandolorian, and his hosting Saturday Night Live show a year ago.  Bill was performing comedy at Mystic Lake Casino and we had tickets to see the show!

Unfortunately they had very strict rules about cameras, so I wasn't able to capture many pictures, but I was able to sneak this one towards the end.  Bill's comedy is great.  I'm sure many people could find his act a bit offensive, but we find him hilarious.  He did a nice job of making fun of both sides when it comes to Covid & politics.  He also had a lot of really funny observations about the state of the world.  I'd highly recommend going to one of his shows if you get the chance.

Krazy Kory came to town on Sunday to go to see the Vikings game with me.  I told him to show up bright & early so we could participate in all the pre-game festivities.

The 2-1 Cleveland Browns were in town to take on our 1-2 Vikings.  We had a good win last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but the Browns have been a hot team lately so we knew it would be a challenge.  In any case, we were hoping for a good game!

Kory wanted to go down near the field for the player introductions. We worked our way to the railing right behind the dragon statue where the players run onto the field.  I thought it would be an interesting place to get some pictures.

It was an interesting place!  I looked down before the players came out onto the field and saw our star running back, Dalvin Cook, directly below me pacing around waiting for the call.  I tried to shout down a Pep Talk for him, but I don't think he heard me.  I think it could have really helped him.

We headed back to our seats and were ready to get loud to support the Vikings.

Sometimes we'd forget to get loud and the nice stadium people would remind us with subtle messages on the big screen.  

We watched former Vikings Allstar Defensive Tackle, Kevin Williams, get inducted into the team's Ring of Honor which was nice.  The other half of the Williams Wall, Pat Williams, was there to support his friend which was also nice.  I sometimes wish my last name was Williams.

We started off great.  Kirk Cousins marched us down the field on our first possession and tossed a 12 yard Touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson to cap off the series.  Sadly, it would be our only score all day.

Dalvin Cook had been out last week with an injury, but he started the game and we had high hopes for one of his big performances.  Not today.  He had less than 50 total yards from scrimmage and no scores.  What a bummer.

Baker Mayfield and friends weren't exactly lighting us up, but they did manage to answer our touchdown with Kareem Hunt's 1 yard rush and a penalty on the Vikings on the extra point led to them converting a 2 point conversion.  A couple of field goals later and the Browns wound up beating us by a score of 14-7.

Kirk Cousins went 20 for 38 and 203 yards with 1 Touchdown and his1st interception of the year.  I'm sure we'll hear all week that it's all Kirk's fault and we need a new quarterback.  Vikings fans are kind of fickle like that.

Coach Zimmer will also be on the hot seat with the team's 1-3 start.  Sure enough I've already seen people on Twitter and some Vikings fan pages calling for his job.  I don't think we're there yet, but if we lose next week to the 0-4 Detroit Lions, all bets are off. 

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September 26, 2021

Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks 2021


Minnesota Vikings vs Seattle Seahawks 2021
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 26, 2021

Sunday brought us to Downtown Minneapolis for the home opener of our 0-2 Minnesota Vikings.  It's been a tough season so far, but we were hopeful for a victory for the home team.

We showed up to the game early to walk around Vikings Village and hang out with some of the locals.  One of these days I'm going to dress like these people to a game.  My main concern is I think I'd get sick of wearing it before the first quarter ended and start stripping off my royal robes.

I like to go down close to the field before the game begins.  This time I found myself face to face with our all-pro defensive end, Danielle Hunter.  I was a little nervous about standing there too long because I didn't want to intimidate him and psyche him out for the game.  I tend to have that effect on people.

Miss Sheri went and sat with a random group of strangers so I had to coax her to get up and come with me to go sit in our seats.

I think one of the players found a frog or something because suddenly they all gathered around him to get a look.  I wish I could have seen the frog.

Our seats are directly above where the players enter the field at the beginning of the game.  They used to shoot fire out of the dragon's mouth when they did the opening ceremony, but apparently there was some kind of pyrotechnic accident at another stadium last year so they're no longer able to do it.  So now they just shoot smoke out of his mouth which just isn't the same.  It makes me feel like we have an old dragon that should be put to sleep, but nobody has the heart to do it.  

Our opponent this week were the 1-1 Seattle Seahawks.  We knew we had an uphill battle against this team because the Minnesota Vikings hadn't beaten them since 2009.  The Vikings had lost the previous 7 games against them!

Quarterback Russell Wilson had never lost to the Vikings in his career.  He was 6-0 against them during the regular season and had also beaten them once in the playoffs.  A win against him felt a little bit overdue.

The Vikings lost a heartbreaker last week after they went into Arizona to take on the smoking hot Cardinals.  They had a chance to win at the end of the game, but our 1st year kicker, Greg Joseph, decided he wanted to feel like a real Vikings kicker and missed a 37 yarder to give us the loss.  He made it up to us this week, though, going 3 for 3 on field goals and also 3 for 3 on extra points.  Hopefully he has those missed kicks out of his system for a long, long time.

A lot of people on social media were starting to say Coach Zimmer might be on the hot seat due to the team's 0-2 start to the season.  I still like him, but was glad we didn't have to see what would have happened had they lost this game.

Another favorite punching bag on social media, Kirk Cousins, had an incredible game.  He threw for 3 Touchdowns and 323 yards as he led the Vikings to a 30-17 victory over the Seahawks.  Hopefully this will keep his critics quiet at least for another week or so.

Minnesota Mankato graduate, Adam Thielen, was the recipient of one of those touchdown passes which we always like to see.  He's one of our family's favorites.

2nd year receiver, Justin Jefferson, is quickly becoming another one of our favorites.  He was all smiles after it was announced that he broke the Vikings record for being the fastest receiver to achieve 100 receptions.  He did it in only 19 games.  He ended up with a total of 9 receptions and another one of those Touchdown catches.  What a good day for the young man.

I got a little nervous at halftime when I saw a group of Marines suddenly storm the field.  It looked like they were ready to take over the joint, but apparently this was the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and they were preparing to do a performance.  I've always heard you're not supposed to play with guns, but these guys made it look like a lot of fun.  I'm going to have to get me one of those and start spinning it around my house.

I found it nice observing the camaraderie between the Vikings cheerleaders.  They all look to be such good friends.  

Back at home, we've had some visitors to our house this week.  It appears a family of raccoons have moved into one of our trees in the backyard and like to invade our back-porch to load up on all the acorns that have fallen in the area.  Our Golden Retriever, Blue, really wants to go outside to play with them, but Miss Sheri won't let me open the door for some reason.  

We saw this guy sitting on a boat launch during one of our walks this week.  I'm pretty sure he's just one of our regular blue herons, but I'm not sure why he's wearing that hairpiece.  Must be going incognito or something.