January 29, 2012

Karaoke at the Savage American Legion

Karaoke at the Savage American Legion

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 29, 2012

On Wednesday, I went to the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce meeting to see our US Congress Representative, John Kline, speak about the state of our country's politics.  I was hoping to get some inspiration from his talk, but it ended up depressing me.  Our country is pretty messed up right now.

On Friday night, we had the pleasure of a visit from Krazy Kory.  He's lived in the mountains of Colorado for the past 9 months, but is now in the process of moving back to Iowa.  He looked pretty scruffy, but it was still good to see him.

Sunny was especially excited to see Kory.  The two of them have a very special bond that honestly makes me a little concerned sometimes.

On Saturday night, we drug Grandma Linda to the American Legion in Savage for a little Bingo and Karaoke action.  We did better at the Bingo than we did at the Karaoke for sure. 

Our good friends, Jen and Dan Walters, invited us to the night of fun.  I had no idea that their crew was full of such good singers, but they definitively put me to shame.

I like to think that I can sing, but I guess when I hear it played back it's more like some screechy screaming.  I guess that's why the people in the club always give me that deer in the headlights look.   I originally thought they were in awe of my talent, but with the benefit of hindsight, that probably wasn't it.

Miss Sheri is a much better singer than I am.  She gave us a rendition of Adele's "Someone Like You" which I thought was quite beautiful.  And I'm sure everyone else would have as well if they just would have shut up and listened to her for awhile!

Luke and Jackson channeled their inner Alice Cooper with a rousing version of "School's Out For Summer!"  They Wish!!

January 22, 2012

The 2012 Minneapolis Boat Show

The 2012 Minneapolis Boat Show

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 22, 2012

On Saturday, we went to the Convention Center to visit the 2012 Minneapolis Boat Show.  Once again, we like to do this to remind ourselves of exactly how much money we don't have.

We were joined by our friends Carson and also the Zitzewitz Family. Because looking at big boats is best experienced with good friends.  And maybe a couple of beers.

The boys love going into the big boats and lock themselves in the cabins.  Not that they're enjoying the boat so much, but more so they can sneak out their iPods and play some Angry Birds.  Because God knows they don't get enough chances to do that throughout the day.

Our kids are definitely hooked on Digital Screens.  Even the Depth Finders received way more attention than they probably deserved.

Crafty Miss Sheri is always thinking.  She said as long as the kids had locked themselves in the rear cabin, we could probably take advantage of the time in the front cabin.  I had to tell her No, though. Too many people walking around for my taste.

It sure is fun hanging out with them Zitzewitzes!

Only $497,056???  Shoot, we'll take 4.

This fast boat here recently sold for only $1.8 million dollars.  Some guy told me that it could go 178 miles per hour and had 1350 horsepower.  I'd love to go skiing behind a boat like that!

This year they had something new called the FlowRider where guests could borrow a wet suit and surf some waves for awhile.  I didn't do it, though, because the idea of wearing someone else's wet suit kind of makes me tingly all over.

Another new feature this year was the Yacht Club and Marina part of the show.  They had a huge tank of water filled up and several boats floating around in it.  Because how can you buy a boat if you can't feel the motion in the ocean?

Is that a big motor on your boat or are you just Happy to See Me?

January 15, 2012

Fun with Tim Ashland and the Hornbuckle Brothers at Babe's in Lakeville

Fun with Tim Ashland & the Hornbuckle Brothers at Babe's in Lakeville

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 13, 2012

We hadn't had a Boy's Night Out for awhile so Tim Ashland, the Hornbuckle Brothers, and I decided it was high time to do one.  We started off by playing cards at Tim's house.  After Chad won all of our money, we thought we'd have a much better time at the bar instead.

And we weren't disappointed!  Turns out, there was a giant bear at the bar!  And he had a pretty girl with him!  And she was giving out free samples!!  He was the nicest Bear I've ever met in my entire life!

Rockfist Rocked while we were there!  Even those of us who can't make a fist real well were allowed to rock with everyone else!  They were Equal Opportunity Rockers.

Jason and Tim kept each other entertained pretty much the whole night.

While Chad and I encompassed the Crippled Corner.  I didn't tell anybody else, but secretly I thought to myself that we were the coolest corner in the joint.  But I didn't want to brag about it or anything like that.

Middle School Ski Club at Buck Hill

Middle School Ski Club at Buck Hill

Todd Swank Diary Entry for January 10, 2012

The boys have been participating in their Middle School Ski Club at Buck Hill in Burnsville, Minnesota.  Because I volunteered to be chaperon, I get to go skiing with them!  Even though I probably need a chaperon more than they do...

This week, I was even able to drag Miss Sheri along with us!  She made me buy her a new coat before she'd agree to it, though.  She complains that she doesn't like to be cold.  Not sure why she agreed to move to Minnesota with me all those years ago, but I'm sure glad she did.

Buck Hill isn't all that big, but for a Monday night of fun....it's not too shabby!

Jen Walters is also one of the chaperons.  I'm pretty sure she's even one of the responsible ones!

The weather was a balmy 45 degrees on Monday night.  So that coupled with her new coat kept Sheri from Belly Aching about being cold!  Well, at least she didn't Belly Ache as much as usual.

Although most of the runs have normal ski lifts, the bunny hill has a cool elevator called the Magic Carpet Lift.  Luke really likes it because it has a long tunnel on it where he thinks he can tell inappropriate jokes to his friends.  He didn't realize how sound carried through the tunnel and now doesn't enjoy that feature nearly as much!

January 12, 2012

Solution Providers: Intel Smartphones, 'Wintel' Here To Stay

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based solution provider, believes Intel has been preparing for its entry into the smartphone and tablet space for a while now.  They simply had to make the move, Swank told CRN, in order to stay relevant. 

 "Intel didn’t have much of an option," he said. "[Mobility] is a threat to their core business, and they have to be a player there. So this was a great step in the right direction." 

Solution providers, however, aren’t convinced that Intel’s new alliances pose a threat to the Wintel empire. Swank, for instance, views Intel’s new partnerships as part of a broader strategy to extend its reach in the mobile market. The chip maker isn’t turning its back on Microsoft, he said. It’s simply exploring new opportunities. 

With Windows 8, Swank continued, Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) has opened its doors to new partnerships, too. The software giant designed Windows 8 to run not only on Intel’s x86 chips, but ARM archictures as well. This move, Swank said, perhaps nudged Intel to initiate a new alliance of its own.

Swank pointed out that the traditional PC form factor is being revived through Intel’s introduction of the Ultrabook. This, he said, is sure to solidify the Wintel relationship. "I think we will continue to see them work together," Swank told CRN. "Ultrabooks will have a huge play for both companies, and I think Windows 8 will work really well there." 

At the end of the day, he continued, more form factors and more mobile architectures mean more choices for the market –and that’s always a good thing. 

"Ultimately, the people who win will be the consumers because more choices and more competition means better pricing and better products," Swank said. "We are all probably a winner. But it’s just really fun to watch." 

Read Full Article Here:

January 8, 2012

Unseasonably Warm Winter in Minnesota

Unseasonably Warm Winter in Minnesota

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 8, 2012

The highlight of our weekend was taking Sunny to the Dog Park!  The weather reached the fifties which is quite unheard of in Minnesota in January.  We're not complaining.  We love Global Warming at our house.  Sunny was so happy to go because he's been cooped up and cranky for most of December.

He had a lot of pent-up aggression to unleash.  It's funny how he always gets frisky with smaller dogs instead of  with bigger ones like the two great danes behind him.

When the weather gets above freezing, we have a favorite game we like to play.  We sneak up near vehicles that are out parked on the ice and get as close to them as we can.  We figure that our extra weight just might be enough to get them to fall through the ice!  We haven't made it happen yet, but are guessing the results will be hilarious when we do!

Nice Email from Scott

January 7, 2012

My Letter to the Editor -- Prior Lake American, January 7, 2012 Edition

Appreciative of robotics team 

As the year 2011 comes to a close and I reflect about the things that I should be appreciative of in my life, one thing stands out to me brightly: The Prior Lake middle school robotics club.

My twin sons had the great experience of participating in this program this year. At first, my wife and I were quite skeptical when the boys brought home a box full of robot parts and a manual. But lucky for us, we ended up on a team with some other fabulous families in the community who had some experience and helped our boys through the process. As part of the program, our sons had to learn the fundamentals of engineering and software development to create these cool little machines that would eventually roll around and dump footballs into boxes.

Working as a team, they learned skills that will definitely be useful to them in the Real World someday. The emphasis was on concepts like gracious professionalism and fair play, rather than becoming the dominant team that will crush the rest. These are skills that I want my kids to be learning. In reward for their hard work, they had the chance to compete in an incredible tournament sponsored by the Prior Lake High School Robotics Team, KING TeC.

Those awesome kids did such a great job at putting on the event. From working with each team to help create their robots, to announcing and judging the final matches, these kids should be considered pillars in our community. They put on this incredible event that made all the participants feel like rock stars while their bots battled one another. In the end, who won didn’t matter, be-cause every child in the program gained fabulous life lessons and also had a whole bunch of fun.

Specials thanks go to Joe Passofaro and his wife, April. It is my understanding that their son started the program and they’ve been the parent guides since the beginning. I understand Joe’s volunteer days will come to an end at some point in the near future because his oldest child will be graduating from high school. I sure hope the Prior Lake school system does something to figure out a way to keep the program going, because I want to see a robotics program available to my boys when they get to high school.

Todd Swank 
Prior Lake

Read More: Prior Lake American - Letters from the Jan 7 2012 edition

January 2, 2012

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Dallas Mavericks 1/1/2012

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 1, 2012

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Dallas Mavericks

So the NBA is back in business and our local team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, has a lot of young talent who seem like they just may be fun to watch.  So I drug Miss Sheri and the boys to a game.

Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks were in town.  Right from the get go, Kevin Love and team made it pretty clear that they weren't going to be pushed around. 

The crowd was Dumbfounded in anticipation of the battle that they were about to witness.

The Timberwolves Dance Team did their best to stoke up the crowd, but they had a tough time gaining anyone's attention.  Everyone was just too focused on basketball!

Ricky Rubio is the new kid in town that every is all excited to watch.   We found out why when he entered the game and added a few extra volts of electricity to the floor.  It caused anyone near him to suddenly shoot up in the air without even knowing why!

Kevin Love continued his dominant play by scoring 25 points and adding 17 rebounds.  

In the end, the scrappy, young home team proved to be too match of a match for the World Champions.  They snapped an 18 game losing streak stretching back into last season and showed every one that this is a new team in town!  Vivo El Rubio!

The Timberwolves won and half the Swank Family made it on TV.  All in all, it was a pretty darned good night!

The Wizard Of Oz at Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 30, 2011

Here we're at Fuddruckers with our old friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  

Why do they have stripper poles at Fuddruckers?

On Friday night, we went to see The Wizard Of Oz at the Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company.  That Dorothy sure does whine a lot.  If she just would have kept her dog on a leash, the old lady never would have had the sheriff try to confiscate it in the first place.    Then she runs away from home.  Then she is nearly killed by a tornado because she's too late to join the responsible people in the storm cellar.  Then the rest of the show was all about her screwed-up dream where she meets a bunch of weird creatures and constantly moans about the fact that she wants to go home.  I'm not sure why this is playing at the Children's Theatre because the life lessons that are found in it are just awful.

Lions, Tin Men, and Scarecrows talked, sang, and danced.  There was a village full of little people, several witches, and a bunch of flying monkeys.  Between you and me, I'm thinking that Dorothy needs to lay off the magic mushrooms.  Once she does that, she'll probably be able to sleep much more soundly.

At least we got to hang out with some fun people.  Even if I did make them all nervous by sneaking some photos even when we were clearly told that taking pictures was a No No.