March 3, 2024

Trekking the High Road at the Minnesota Zoo

 


Trekking the High Road at the Minnesota Zoo
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 3, 2024


It's Super Tuesday this week!  That means primary elections for presidential candidates in Minnesota.  We had the opportunity to go see Nikki Haley speak when she came to our area on Monday night.


Before anyone criticizes me for my choice of candidate, I'd like to say the following. I've never pushed my political opinions on anyone with my blog or in my social media postings. I don't see the value in it. That being said, I'd like to consider myself to be very open minded. I'll listen to anyone's ideas how to make our world a better place. I would have gone to see any of the major candidates under similar circumstances whether it be Biden, Trump, or that Teddy Kennedy guy. Bottom line is I love to get my picture with famous people and jump at the chance when given the opportunity!


Friday night brought us to Target Center again for another Timberwolves game.  


Miss Sheri agreed to accompany me again.  I'm so glad she's still willing to do that!  Honestly, she's probably a bigger fan than I am.


And yes, I was able to get our picture up on the big screen again.  Apparently not a lot of people try to do this otherwise I'm just really lucky in this one area in life.


Miss Sheri loves to capture photos of the players while smiling.  Jaden McDaniels doesn't seem to do that very often so she was quite excited when she was able to capture this one.


We take lots and lots of pictures during games to try to get a handful of good ones.  I found this one really interesting despite the lighting challenges it apparently experienced.


The game itself was kind of a bust.  Anthony Edwards left at half time because apparently he had the opportunity to witness the birth of his child.  The team seemed a bit lost without him and went on to lose in overtime to the Kings by a score of 124 - 120.  Kind of a bummer.


It was a balmy 74 degrees on Sunday which is pretty much unheard of on March 3 in Minnesota.  We figured we'd better take advantage and hooked up with the kids for a trip to the Minnesota Zoo.


We'd been wanting to go there since they opened the new "Treetop Trail" last summer.  Many years ago they had a Monorail running through the zoo which hadn't been used in a long time since it was too expensive to maintain.  They finally decided to do something about it and redesigned the track into a new 1.25 mile walking trail that goes around the zoo and several of the animal exhibits.  It's pretty cool.


I don't know if it was the warm weather or the fact that so many people were traversing through their territories, but many of the animals seemed to be active and willing to pose for photographs.  Normally when we go there all the animals are sleeping near a back fence somewhere.


Even the Minnesota Lynx who was laying down giving herself a bath when we arrived, stood up, walked out of her den, and gave us a big stretch and a yawn.  She then turned around and went back to laying down on her bed again, but it was nice she stepped out to say Hi.

February 25, 2024

A Weekend With Wolves

 

A Weekend With Wolves

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 25, 2024


I bought a pack of tickets to the Minnesota Timberwolves back in December and selected a version that was heavily concentrated on weekend games.  I didn't really pay attention to the fact that this weekend included games for both Friday and Saturday night.  So it ended up being a Weekend With Wolves.


Luke joined me on Friday night.  He wore his favorite new shirt and if you're a fan of the team, you'll find it hilarious.  If not, you probably don't get it.  Understood.


I'm like 10 in a row for getting my picture up on the scoreboard during the game.  Either I'm really lucky or I'm the only one who cares to achieve this particular goal in life.  


Giannis Antetokounmpo graced our city with his towering presence, courtesy of our friendly neighborhood rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks.  And just like going to a Vikings/Packers game in Minneapolis, it seemed like half of the crowd were Bucks fans.  I should probably add the word obnoxious Bucks fans to the end of that phrase.  


The Timberwolves are having their best season in team history and are still in first place in the Western Division.  This means that more celebrities are sighted at the games.  Last time I saw 50 Cent and this time it was ESPN's Stephen A Smith.  He was sitting next to ARod during the game which was in the same section we were seated in about 30 rows behind them.  Unfortunately Mr. Smith never turned around while I was stalking him with my zoom lens so this is the best picture I was able to capture.


We also got to see former Twolves player and coach, Sam Mitchell.  He looks a lot older than I remember seeing him last.  Given that my own aging process is less 'fine wine' and more 'milk left out overnight,' I'm hardly one to judge.


Minnesota puts on a pretty good show.  The mascot Crunch is usually pulling shenanigans and there's always something to entertain you before, after, and during the game.  

It had been 19 days since the last home game.  The Wolves had been on a 4 game win streak before the all-star break and we were hopeful to see the streak go to number 5.


Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be.  Minnesota had a tough time making their shots and the team seemed to be a bit too discombobulated to pull off the victory.  They lost by a score of 112 to 107.  And the Bucks fans all around us were happy and even more obnoxious than they had been earlier.


On Saturday night, Miss Sheri joined me for the game.  It was Scarf Night so we felt pretty lucky.


I also made it to 11 times in a row getting our picture on the Big Screen.  I Rule.


Miss Sheri is a huge fan of the Wolves and watches a lot of pregame shows, postgame shows, and videos on social media about her favorite team.  She's a big fan of Wolves announcer, Marney Gellner, and wanted to get a picture with her.  Miss Gellner was nice enough to participate.  She's awesome.


Our opponents for the evening were the Brooklyn Nets.  When we were driving to the game, my wife asked me who the big names were on their team and I must admit, I struggled to identify anyone who she would recognize.  I kind of forgot Ben Simmons plays for the team, but is he even a big name?  


Even Kyle Anderson is befuddled by that question.


I imagine Jaden McDaniels was chanting "Naz Reid" over and over again in this huddle.


Rudy Gobert  had 19 boards for the Wolves on Friday night, but must have pulled his groin or something because he was sitting on the bench for this game.


Our Wolves get less respect from the refs than I do when I claim I can dunk the ball.  Both Karl Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards seem to get fouled an awful lot, but never get the whistles they feel they deserve.  They spend a lot of time telling the referees how to do their jobs, but I'm not sure it has the effect they're hoping. 


Nevertheless, the Timberwolves took control of the action and went on to win the game by a score of 101-86.  That puts them at 40-17.  I've been coming to Timberwolves games since the Christian Laettner years and this is the best team I've ever seen.  Their lead in the west is tenuous, but they've been holding it almost the whole season.  I think this team will continue to gel and do some real damage in the playoffs.  Let's Go!

February 18, 2024

Multiple Trips to the Mayo Clinic

 


Multiple Trips to the Mayo Clinic
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 18, 2024


Our week started with a Super Bowl Party at the Zitzewitz household.  The game was boring in the first half, but made up for it in the second.  I didn't care who won but am very happy for Taylor Swift.  She's the second coolest person I know with the initials TS.


Minnesota finally remembered it's February and dumped about 5 inches of snow on our heads.  Hard to fuss about the white stuff , though, since it's been about the mellowest winter I can ever remember experiencing.


We made 3 trips to Mayo Clinic in the past week.  First for Luke, then Miss Sheri, and I ended the tour on Thursday.  Miss Sheri received fantastic news for her 6 week post-op check-up.  The doctor said things were going along "perfectly" for her recovery from endometrial cancer which we loved to hear.  I'm still continuing to figure out some things with my lungs and heart, but it doesn't seem I'll be needing any new treatments for the foreseeable future.  Which would be nice.  We've had enough doctor visits for awhile.

@toddswank Shortarmguy can dougie! #shortarmguy #dance #dougie ♬ orijinal ses - pearl.akdnz
@toddswank How about if i back it up instead? #backitup #dance ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank Now i do the Cha Cha. #chacha #zeddywill #dance ♬ Cha Cha - ZEDDY WILL

February 11, 2024

A Cocoa Beach Quickie

 

A Cocoa Beach Quickie
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 11, 2024


On Sunday night, we headed to Minneapolis to watch our Western Conference leading Timberwolves take on the Houston Rockets.  We were darned happy to be there.


It was the first home game after Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony Towns were named to this year's NBA All Star team.  I still think that Rudy Gobert got screwed by not also being named to the team since he's been an absolute BEAST this year.  That being said, it's still nice to see the home town team getting some national recognition for a change.  We've been the red-headed stepchild of the NBA for way too long!


Karl's dad styled up for the celebration.  He was dressed sharper than a DJ's scratch on a vintage vinyl.  Easily the coolest guy in all of Target Center.


Well, second coolest guy.  Hard to beat 50 Cent who sat about 20 rows in front of us.


All right, at least the third coolest guy.  How can anyone compete with Naz Reid?  Naz Reid.


The kids in front of us wanted to pay homage to the hippest Timberwolf and brought these signs to celebrate him.  It even got them shown on the TV broadcast where I screen grabbed this shot.  Me and Miss Sheri also made it on TV.  At least my mouth and chin and her fingers did anyways.


We did better getting our full faces on the big scoreboard in the middle of the arena which is always a goal of mine.  I'm guessing more people were focused on the kid sticking his tongue out at the camera, though.


On Monday, I boarded a jet plane to get out of Minnesota for 24 hours.  It's been unseasonably warm this winter, but I was interested to see all of the lakes remain frozen.


Soaring above Chicago, I gazed down at Soldier Field nestled among skyscrapers casting their long, dramatic shadows into Lake Michigan, and thought, "Even the city's silhouette is trying to deep-dive into the lake, probably to escape the crime."


My destination was Cocoa Beach, Florida. I was there to visit one of my best customers.


I had a great dinner visiting Troy Ligon who's a local legend in Cocoa Beach. He always knows the best restaurants to hit and I enjoy our conversations on a wide variety of topics.


Troy told me to visit on Monday night because a rocket launch was scheduled to take off at 2am. He volunteered to accompany me to watch. We went to a bar called the Sandbar and shared stories while we waited for the time to pass. He shared this photo with me he took during a previous launch. I found it to be an amazing picture and was excited to be able to see something like this in person even though it was a cloudy, windy night without a full moon to be seen anywhere. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. About 11:30, we received the notification that due to the inclement weather, the launch was going to be delayed until another night. I was bummed. One of these days I'm going to see a rocket launch in person!


The hotel I stay at is right next to the beach so I woke up early to go check it out. Due to the fact I was only there for a short time, I had 10 minutes or so to enjoy the view. Still was awe-inspiring, though.


After an exhilarating 24 hours in Florida, I came back to Minnesota. Our local Indian Tribe, the Shakopee Mdewakaton Sioux have reintroduced Buffalo to my neighborhood for some reason. I'm not sure what they're planning on doing with them, but I'm hopeful to eventually get to ride one.  That would be so fun.


On Thursday, it was Luke's turn to spend the day at Mayo Clinic with us.  The day started off great when his cardiologist said things were going so well he didn't need to come back for another year for his next checkup.  That was exciting for us because it's been about 9 years since Luke didn't need to get a check-up every 6 months.


Unfortunately we couldn't get his hepatologist to agree to that new plan.  Even though his liver is also looking very stable since his last visit, he still wants to monitor it every 6 months.  We still feel blessed and these men are very nice so it's not such a bad thing to see them more often.


We had dinner with our good friends, the Walters Family, on Friday night.  We debated doing Karaoke afterwards, but the allure of an early bedtime won the debate over the potential night of debauchery.  I'm still kind of sad about that one.


On Saturday, Miss Sheri and I went to Fogo De Chao.  It was an early celebration of our 30 year anniversary which is on Monday, February 12.  Hard to believe it's been 30 years.  I sure did get lucky with that one.


Miss Sheri can turn the world on with her smile!