December 9, 2018

Oracle Cloud Day 2018 in Dallas, Texas

Oracle Cloud Day 2018 in Dallas, Texas
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 9, 2018

I flew down to Dallas for a couple of meetings and a chance to attend Oracle's Cloud Day event at the Hyatt Regency next to Reunion Tower.  That's a big ball in the sky they have up there.

The cloud day event was a productive one.  I met with customers and colleagues while also experiencing keynote speakers and hands-on labs for some of Oracle's latest and greatest technologies.  I love technology so always have a great time at events like these.

Oracle's CIO, Mark Sunday, gave one of the keynotes and talked about how Digital Transformation is changing society and businesses and is generally making the world a better place to be for all of us.  He also talked about how Oracle has transformed our operations from on premise technologies to the cloud which is a pretty impressive accomplishment for a company with 137,000 employees.  Quite a fascinating talk.

I stayed at the same hotel as the event which was the Hyatt Regency Dallas.  It's right next to the Reunion Tower also known as that great big ball in the sky.  I love going to the nineteenth floor, standing at the railing and looking over it to freak myself out.  It's hard for me to stand there staring over the edge because I think it  would be just so easy to slide right over it and plummet to my death.  I would never do such a thing, but it's hard not to think about it when looking over the railing.  I have a weird brain.

The best part of visiting Dallas is having the opportunity to see much of my family who live down there.  My sister, Tracy, her husband, Dave, my niece, Bailey, and my niece, Mallory and her family, all came to Village Burger to meet me for dinner on Wednesday night.  It was so great to see them.  I hadn't seen Mallory's kids in awhile and they've all grown so much and are so well behaved!  It was really nice connecting with them all.

On Thursday night, I connected with my old mentor at Oracle, John Eder.  John and I worked together for a year and a half before I took on my current role.  He is a 20 year plus veteran salesperson for Oracle and I learned so much from him on how to be successful in enterprise sales.  It was great spending a few hours with him catching up on the good old days of 2017.

I came home Friday afternoon and had to jump back in the car to go out for the night with our good friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  They're such an attractive family that we try to spend as much time with them as we can in hopes some of that rubs off on us.

We were actually in St. Paul to go to the Ordway to see the new production of Elf The Musical.  We were on the edge of our seats with anticipation for an opportunity to spend a few hours with Buddy the Elf.

Our seats were on the railing of the balcony, so I had to spend a few more hours wondering what it would be like to fall from this distance.  It wasn't nearly as far of a height as I was seeing at the hotel, but it still would probably hurt pretty bad.  I just keep wondering what if I have some secret bouncing ability that I don't know about?  It would be sad if I didn't ever get to use it.

The play was fun, but ultimately not as funny as I was hoping it would be.  We are such big fans of the movie so had very high expectations.  I guess it's just not easy to be as good as Will Ferrell.

Back home, we are excited to have Luke home from college for winter break.  He wanted to take Blue for a walk out on the lake now that it's frozen.  My mom and sister were really worried about us going on the lake, but I promised them I'd have Luke go out there first to make sure it was safe.

Blue was so happy to finally get to go for a run and chase the ball.  He's really sick of winter already because we tend to choose staying inside rather than bundling up and going out adventuring.  We need to get better at that.

The critter watching around our house has been fabulous.  The birds and squirrels seem really fat so we've been wondering if we should keep filling up the feeders or not.  I think we will keep doing it.  They can lose weight for New Years.

December 2, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Boston Celtics 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Boston Celtics 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 2, 2018

We had a bunch of snow this week in Minnesota.  Blue gets very frustrated this time of year because we aren't quite as excited to do things like take him for walks, go to the lake or to the dog park.  He has to settle for me putting on  a coat and throwing the ball in the backyard for awhile.  Needless to say, he isn't very happy about it.

Our albino squirrel friends have to be excited to have snow on the ground because they blend in much better so the hawks and eagles can't see them.  This little guy needs to stop rooting around in the mud so much though, otherwise he's going to lose his advantage.

Miss Sheri loves Christmas so she was ecstatic to have the opportunity to meet one of Santa's official reindeer at a local bank.  I thought about telling her it's not a real Santa reindeer, but didn't want to break her heart. 

On Saturday night, we drove through a blizzard to go to Target Center to see our Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Boston Celtics.

We debated if the snow was going to be too scary to make the 45 minute trip, but ultimately decided to go for it.  Glad we did, because it turned out most of the snow had already passed by the time we got on the roads.  We were raring to go to watch some good basketball.

The last time we went to a Timberwolves game, Jimmy Butler was still one of our star players.  That is no longer the case as Butler was traded for Robert Covington as well as Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless.  The trade has worked out well for the Wolves so far as they've won 7 of 9 games since it was completed.

Karl Anthony Towns seems much happier about things now that Butler is gone.  It's back to being his team again and all the drama is gone.  Now they just have to keep winning.

Former President George H. W. Bush died the night before the game and the Timberwolves had a nice moment of silence for him before the game began.  He was a good man.  May he Rest in Peace.

At halftime, they promised a special treat and we were pleased to see a former America's Got Talent contestant do his balancing act for the crowd.  It's pretty crazy how this guy climbs an ever escalating tower filled with large pipes that roll back and forth while he's trying to balance up there.  I have no idea how you discover that you have a skill like this, but I'm not going to check to see if I can do it.

Unfortunately for the home team, the Celtics proved to be the better team that night and ended up winning the game by a score of 118-109.  It was a fun game to watch, though, and I am excited about the team's future.  We'll see how they continue to gel with their new players.

November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018 at the Farm

Thanksgiving 2018 at the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for November 25, 2018

We celebrated Thanksgiving early with my mom and Mike since our plans were to spend the holiday at the farm this year.  We had a nice time eating our pre-Thanksgiving roast together.

The boys both came home from college which is always my favorite part of the holidays any more.  We have such a good time together.

It turned out to be a pretty chilly Thanksgiving as our temperatures have been in the twenties the past couple of weeks.  The lake is getting close to be frozen, but you sure wouldn't want to be out there walking on it yet.  Even if it does look like there's some pretty clear walking paths out there.

On Wednesday night we headed to the farm to hang out with cousin Joey and family.  It's always good to see these guys.

Sunny loves going to the farm because it means we go on all sorts of interesting walks and he gets to chase the kitties.  He goes crazy just hearing that word.  I'm sure the farm cats absolutely hate when they see our car pull-up because they know they are going to be hunted for a few days by a big slobbering beast.

For the second visit in a row, we spotted an owl while out on one of our walks.  This guy flew right in front of us after the dog ran near his tree.  We stalked him and was able to capture this picture from a distance.

We tried to get closer to him to capture a better picture, but he was way too smart for us and took off long before we could get close.  I don't know why these dang owls won't pose for us.

We had a wonderful Thankgiving dinner with Miss Sheri's family.  It was very festive and we spent a couple of long nights bonding while playing cards.  We create good memories on the farm.

We came home Saturday night and had an unusual discovery on Sunday morning when we discovered this fish laying in the middle of our deck.  Our best guess is that an eagle or hawk caught him in the lake across the street, was flying over our house, and dropped him for some reason.  Either that or one of our neighbors is trying to send us a very strange form of message.  Who knows?

November 18, 2018

The 2018 Minne Mini Robotics Tournament

The 2018 Minne Mini Robotics Tournament
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for November 18, 2018

I spent much of the week in Kansas City along with my team attending a very intense & powerful sales training.  We worked hard and played hard together.

On Saturday, I attended the 2018 Minne Mini Regional FRC Robotics Tournament.  The tournament consists of 36 robotics teams from Minnesota & Iowa competing in a game called First Power Up.

Basically each match consists of 2 alliances with 3 robots per side competing to score points by performing various tasks including lifting large blocks onto a scale to gain control away from the competing alliance.  It's 2 minutes of chaos on the field and a lot of fun to watch.

I was one of 8 judges observing the tournament and interviewing the teams to determine which ones would win various awards for showcasing talent in engineering, spirit, and gracious professionalism.  It's hard to judge because there are so many worthy teams to be considered and a ton of great kids.

It's also fun spending time with my fellow judges.  These are a bunch of great guys.

After the tournament we went out to dinner with the Korkowskis and one of Sue's best friends from childhood.  We had a nice dinner before heading back to the high school for a late night event.

We went to see the Prior Lake High School performance of Sister Act.  If you haven't seen the movie, the story is about a night club singer who witnesses a murder and has to go into hiding so she pretends to be a nun in a local convent.  Hilarity ensues.

We were there to support Grace Korkowski who was one of the nuns.  It was fun seeing her sing and dance throughout the various performances.

There are a lot of talented performers at Prior Lake High School.

There were more than 120 students involved in the production which seems pretty crazy to me.  That's a lot of kids.  But you could totally see the amount of passion and hard-work they put into the production.  It was a phenomenal show!

November 11, 2018

Our First Curling Lesson

Our First Curling Lesson
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for November 11, 2018

We had our first curling lesson this week.  Our friend, Guy Perera, is getting certified to be a curling instructor and needed some really pathetic participants so he could practice giving lessons.  Miss Sheri and I were more than happy to volunteer.

I've always wanted to try curling, but never really had the opportunity.  I had concerns if I'd be able to do it, but after some practice, great instruction from Guy, and special Short Arm Guy adaptations I was able to hurl the stone down the ice.  I have a long way to go before that sucker travels straight, though.

Miss Sheri is a natural at curling.  She was getting it going straight very quickly and will probably be a pretty competitive player if we ever get to play an actual game.  She did fall on her butt, though.

I did my civic duty and voted this week.  I'm not sure why they make me go to this polling place, though.  Seems kind of discriminatory.

On Saturday night, we had the Browns and the Zitzewitzes over for dinner and a hot tub party.  The temperatures were down in the teens so we figured it was a perfect time to go outside and get in the water.

Ana celebrated her birthday this week, so we were pretty excited to get the chance to sing her a song.  The song was called Happy Birthday to You.

It was Rhonda's birthday this week as well so she also received a celebratory cheesecake and her named mentioned in the song.  It was in the third line where we substituted the word You and instead said "Ana and Rhonda".  I thought it all came together pretty good.