March 25, 2012

Intel Solutions Summit 2012 in New Orleans

Intel Solutions Summit 2012 in New Orleans
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 25, 2012

Dr. Bollig and I headed to New Orleans this week to enjoy beautiful views of the Super Dome.

We spent three nights across the street from the Superdome at the newly re-opened Hyatt Regency which just went through renovations costing approximately $300 million dollars.  The place was beautiful, but had these new fangled elevators with no buttons that confused the hell out of everyone!  For $300 million, I'd think they could have just hired people to carry us to our rooms instead.

The reason we went down to Louisiana was to attend the 2012 Intel Solutions Summit.  We had the opportunity to learn about all the incredibly cool new products Intel is bringing to market this year including a whole new series of servers, desktop processors, and a new class of mobile computers called Ultra Books!  I would have loved to show you more images of these products, but for some reason Intel kept announcing that photos weren't allowed to be taken during the sessions.  It's almost like they have something against me...

We had a great time with some of our old friends from Intel as well as some of their other customers.  

We also connected with some of our good vendors like Bethany from Source Support.  She joined us as we feasted on some of the local cuisine like jambalaya and craw fish.  

I've never been very good with food that stares back at me while I'm trying to eat it.

Most of the time we were there was spent learning and working, but we did make it down to Bourbon Street on Tuesday night which was quite a bit of fun.  There's some interesting characters that hang around down there.

This guy had set up shop outside of one of the bars and was a wealth of knowledge about the local scene.  He also sold twisted forks which we didn't buy.  Now if he would have only had some twisted spoons, I just may have been a customer!

The local music scene was empowering.  If only they would have invited me onstage to jam along with them, then the night would have been perfect!

On the final night, after the awards ceremony, they had a big party which featured 5 local bands there to jazz us up with excitement!

I have to be honest with you, though.  After the second or third jazz band, they all started sounding the same to me.  My feet really start desiring some hip hop music, but it never came.  Isn't Lil Wayne from New Orleans?  I wish he would have been in one of the bands.

This is a video that Intel showed on the final night at the Awards Ceremony.  I'm in it a couple of times, but for some reason they identify me as Dr. Bollig!

March 17, 2012

The Ice Is Out on Prior Lake 2012

The Ice Is Out on Prior Lake 2012
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 17, 2012

Warm weather started creeping into the air this week which brought a load of glee into Sunny's life because he lives to swim!
We went down to the lake each day this week and every time, the strip of water grew larger and larger.  I guess 80 degree temperatures in March in Minnesota will do that!

Sunny was born with a Golden Retriever for a mother and a penguin for a father.  Their mating ritual had to be quite a sight to see!
The highlight at Nor-Tech this week was when my old buddy and co-worker, Mark Donovan, stopped by for a visit.  He just loves to come and look at the Cluster Supercomputers we're building.  It's pretty cute to watch his eyes light up when he sees the computers, but we have to firmly remind him that it's OK to look with his eyes, but not touch with his hands.

Of Course, Mark never listens and inevitably something ends up broken.  Lucky for us, we had some engineers in from SuperMicro helping us out this week and they were able to clean up his messes.

Friday night rolled around so Miss Sheri and Luke decided to abandon Avery and I to go visit some friends.  So the two of us headed to the Mystic Lakes buffet where we drowned our sorrows in some succulent dishes.  And Apple pie covered with vanilla and caramel sauce!  By the time that we left, we were so satisfied that we forgot that we even had other members in our family!

While Miss Sheri was off with a friend, Luke headed to the Mall of America with his buddy, Jackson, and his mom.  The three of them participated in a new Guinness Book of World Records entry involving 836 people dressing up in turtle outfits.   I've seen full pictures of the event and I swear I only count 834 people so I may have to turn them into the authorities for trying to pull some kind of scam.
The reason they did this was because Jackson's mom, Jen, has a real big obsession with turtles.  Or maybe the obsession she has is with ninjas.  I can never remember which one it is.

By the time Saturday morning rolled around, all the ice in Prior Lake was completely gone and Sunny was in heaven having the full lake to swim.  It's been so bizarre having this hot weather in March.  But knowing our luck with the weather in Minnesota, I'm guessing we'll still have an upcoming blizzard hitting us some time in early June.  Now that's something to look forward to...

Action Movie FX

A car narrowly misses hitting Shortarmguy, Miss Sheri, and Sunny the Dog after it mysteriously falls from the sky! 

Flock of Eagles in Ventura, Iowa

Early in the week, I saw my high school buddy, Jason Anderson, post the following on Facebook:

Wow! If ya get the chance head to Ventura. There are at least 100 Bald n Golden Eagles at the grade! Very cool 

Denise Lindsay Hall asked:

"I Wonder Why?" 

and Chad Myhre responded: 

drained marsh = lots of dead and dying fish. Bald Eagle Feast!

Brad Crosser posted:
 I just took some pictures I'll post them later.

I was very anxious to see them and wasn't disappointed when he put them up later.  I asked for his permission to re-post them here and he generously allowed me to do that.  

Here they are:

Video from the local TV station in Mason City, Iowa.


Or How a 41 Year Old Man Became Enamored With a Book That Was Originally Targeted at Teen-Age Girls.

I just saw this review on, calling the upcoming movie "The Hunger Games" the Best American SCI-FI Film since 'THE MATRIX.

I Get It.

Anticipation for this movie is currently at an all time high for me! 

I honestly can't remember the last time I was this excited to see a movie. 

I'm not sure if I've ever been this excited to see a movie. 

 I first heard about the Hunger Games when it appeared on the cover of EW Magazine back in May of 2011.

This character "Katniss Everdeen" mesmerized me from the beginning.  

I read the article and became fascinated.  It told of a popular set of books by Suzanne Collins where a futuristic society forces 12-18 year old children to compete in a Battle to the Death tournament.   

Now that's something different.

I quickly downloaded the first book and read it all in a couple of days.  Books 2 and 3 were finished within the next week.  I hated the ending because it wasn't all neat and happy, but it stuck with me.

Stuck with me enough that I did something I've never done before.  I started following movie blogs.  I followed every post of 3 or 4 of them including:

I told my wife about the books and she read all three books in less than a week.  Then she turned my boys on to them and now we're all hooked.

We've been watching every trailer and video that has hit the web.  

Stuff like this brand new one that just showed up online today:

I even started my own Pinterest Board and regularly post any interesting videos and pictures I find featuring the stars and also interesting screen shots from the movie.

Now it's only a week away until the movie is released and 

I can't wait to see it!

Are there any other men above the age of 30 

that feel the same way I do?

Or is this something I need to discuss with my therapist?

March 11, 2012

Prior Lake Middle School Honor Band District Concert

Prior Lake Middle School Honor Band District Concert

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 11, 2012

Thursday night brought beautiful music in to our lives as the boy's middle school honor band connected with the 6th grade band and the high school wind ensemble for an incredible concert.  It would have been even better if they could have only fit a few more kids in the gym.

Avery tells us he wants to be an incredible Tromboner.  We tell him in the nicest possible way that he really shouldn't use words like that.

Luke does a nice job playing the Marimba.  We only wish they could get him a bigger one which would really allow him to showcase his entire range.  He can reach both sides of this one with a nice leisurely jogging pace, but he opens up better when he really has to run to reach both sides of it.

Miss Sheri wears a look of fascination on her face while watching the boys perform.  You can just tell how much the music is moving her spiritually.

On Friday night, we joined both band directors and many other parents  for the Prior Lake Middle School Band Boosters at Fongs in Prior Lake.  A social event where we get to leave the kids at home?Count us in!

I had no idea what to expect going into the evening, but we ended up staying for several hours and having a great time with a bunch of really interesting people.  I mentioned to Jyll, who organized the event, that we should do this every weekend!  She told me that was a nice idea and I was more than welcome to organize the next one!  That doesn't sound quite as much fun, though.

When we woke up on Saturday, we saw that the temperatures had climbed into the sixties!  Our first thought was to take Sunny down to the lake and see if we could get him to fall through the ice.  The boys have bugging us for a new puppy, but I keep telling them they have to finish using their old one first.

Of course I was kidding in that last photo.  We would never let anything happen to Sunny!  Our actual purpose of going down to the lake was to get the boys to have their picture taken with a couple of geese.  It's actually a lot harder than it looks to get the birds to pose like this.

Quit looking at the birds, daddy, and Throw me the Dang Ball!

March 8, 2012

'Post-PC Era' Now The Go-To Term In Apple's Trash Talk Playbook

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, said in response to the trend, his company is increasing its focus on enterprise servers and data center business. 

"Getting by selling PCs is a tough business," he said. "It's not like Windows 8 is going to bring back the glory days of the system builder."

Read Full Article Here: 

March 4, 2012

Delta Airlines. Are all your planes broken?

Delta Airlines.  Are all your planes broken?
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 4, 2012

Delta airlines needs to buy new planes.  All of theirs appear to be broken.

So let me tell you my story of the last two days traveling via the usually pretty good Delta Airlines.

I was supposed to fly a quick trip from Minneapolis to Houston for a Nor-Tech customer event in conjunction with Intel at a Houston Rockets Game.

My day started off at showing up to the airport about an hour and a half before my scheduled flight.  I went through the security molestation check and was annoyed when told I now have to remove my belt to pass through the XRAY machines.  I know this is no big deal for most people, but putting a belt on is a challenging task for a Shortarmguy and required me to make an immediate trip to the bathroom to remove my pants so I could put my belt back on.   Otherwise, my pants were falling down while I walked through the airport.  So I went in the bathroom and had the choice to pull my pants down in a dirty stall or out in the open in front of a group of strangers.  I opted for thrilling the strangers, put my belt back on, and proceeded out of the bathroom straight to check the departures sign to find out which gate I had to go to for my flight.  

To my dismay, my flight wasn't listed on the board.  So I stopped at the airport information desk and asked if he could figure out which gate I needed to find.  He couldn't figure it out and then I remembered I had the Delta app on my iphone which luckily told me which gate to go to.  I come to discover that my gate is about a mile away from where I'm standing so I needed to run to make sure I was there in time for boarding.

I used to check my main suitcase and just carry my backpack through the airport, but since the airline robber barons started charging a $25 fee for the honor of putting my bag below the plane, I've joined the masses and now carry everything with me on the plane.  Normally no big deal, but when I have to run a mile in 15 minutes, it adds to the fun.  

So I raced to my gate while nearly avoiding a heart attack and get there to discover they're not boarding yet.  I told the lady behind the counter that our flight wasn't listed on the departures board and she looked at me like she could care less.  I then discover that my flight had been delayed but they hadn't bothered to change the status on the Delta app or even on the sign behind the counter.  But I thought "No Big Deal.  A delay will let me grab a bite to eat for breakfast and catch my breath."  I go and quickly grab a mini Godfathers pizza and return to my gate to wait through what is supposed to be a short delay.  It wasn't.  At about 9:30am with the sign still reading that my flight was "On Time" with a 9:05 departure, the lady behind the counter proceeded to tell the huge line of people that our flight had been canceled.

She told us to go way down the hall to the Delta information counter to receive instructions on what to do next.  So I walked down there to discover a huge line of people.  While waiting in line, I decided to call Delta reservations and figure out a plan.  They told me there was another flight to Houston at 1:25PM that I could get on via standby.  The flight was already oversold by 2 people and I was number 5 in standby.  I said "There's no way I'm going to make it, so I guess I'm going to have to cancel my trip."  I called my boss, Dr. Bollig, and explained the situation to him.  He told me it was important that we be there and told me to risk the wait.  I thought he was crazy, but respected his opinion and proceeded to have lunch and wait out this next unexpected delay.

I arrived at the gate at about 12:25 and was told I was now at the top of the list for standby and the sign above me confirmed that fact.

R. Todd Swank #1 on Standby!

So I get on the plane and quickly lose the waiting anxiety as I discover we're flying directly over my house!  This is a picture of Prior Lake, Minnesota where I live.  I thought that was a good sign and maybe things would get back on track for me on this trip.

The flight was scheduled to arrive at 4:28pm and I needed to be to the game at 6 to pick up my tickets.  A half hour cab ride, quick checkin to the hotel, fly up there to change clothes, and race to meet my contact who gave me the tickets outside of Toyota Center.  I made it to the game on time and all could be good again.

I had never been to an NBA game outside of Minnesota, but it seemed just like a Timberwolves game minus the Kevin Loves and the Ricky Rubios.

I was at the game for about 4 hours and met a bunch of interesting people and had many interesting conversations.  Life was good again.

The game appeared to be a good one, but honestly I hardly watched any of it.  I could care less about either of these teams and I flew down to Houston to do some networking, not watch a game.

The Nuggets ended up beating the Rockets by 117 to 105.  

I also felt like a winner because I spent a few hours chit chatting with engineers and people with PHD's from the oil and gas business and I didn't come off as a total moron.  At least I don't think I came off as a total moron.  It's always tough to know for sure.

I wanted to go down and network with ex Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager and Coach, Kevin McHale, but he looked kind of busy so I didn't want to bother him.

Basketball can be a pretty rough sport.

But the pain is nothing like that of the pain felt being a Delta Airline's customer.

So day 2 of my quick trip to Houston went like this.

I woke up and left the hotel at about 10.  My flight wasn't until 1:25, but I thought I could grab a bite to eat at the airport.  Besides, I was getting pretty good at hanging out and waiting there.

 I ate breakfast and arrived at my gate at about noon.  I was a bit surprised to see that my gate sign said the flight was to Salt Lake City at 11:05.  The lady at the counter explained that the Salt Lake City flight had been delayed and they were moving those people to another gate so they could start to prepare for my flight back to Minneapolis.  So as 1PM rolls around and I rest comfortably with the knowledge that the the sign behind the Delta counter says my flight is "On Time", I suddenly get surprised with the news that my flight has been delayed for 3 hours.  

I decide to remain calm and not do anything mainly because there's already a huge line waiting to talk to the lady at the counter.  I continue reading my book.  I then hear a young girl behind me on the phone talking to someone at Delta reservations.  She says something about the fact that maintenance needed to replace extinguishers on the engine of our plane and we needed to wait for a part to arrive on another plane.  I was OK with the thought of this.  I don't know what extinguishers are on an airplane's engine, but if they need to be replaced then  I want them replaced.  But I started thinking, how long is it going to take to do something like this?  I called Delta Reservations and asked if I had any other options.  Lucky I did, because shortly after I reached someone on the phone, I received a text message from Delta that my flight had been canceled.

The lady on the phone was nice, but let me know that I had no other options for a direct flight from Houston to Minneapolis.  If I wanted to go home that night, I had to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah and then to Minneapolis which would get me home about 5 hours later than I originally had planned.  Fine. I flew to Utah.

I hadn't really expected to see any mountains on this trip, but they were very nice just the same.

I ended up sitting next to the gal who I overheard discussing the extinguisher problems.  We made a couple of jokes about our next flight in Utah being cancelled, but of course,that could never happen for real.  

Well, the laughing stopped when we landed and I received a text message from the Delta App telling me that my next flight had been cancelled.  I now had to fly to LAX and take a redeye back to Minneapolis getting home at 6am the next morning.  I couldn't believe my eyes and neither could the girl sitting next to me.  She downloaded the Delta App which told her our next flight was already boarding and we had about 15 minutes to get there or get left behind.  

I figured the app was lying to me, grabbed my rolling suitcase and proceeded to run all away across the airport.  

Do I need to tell you that my gate was about a mile away and this time I had less than 15 minutes to get there?  It was.

We get there and discovered the Delta App absolutely was lying to me because they let me on this plane and finally I was heading back to Minneapolis!

Shortly after getting buckled into my seat, the pilot gets on the intercom and apologies that we're going to be delayed while the maintenance crew makes some "Minor Repairs" at the rear of the plane.  He's optimistic we'll still have an on time departure.  

10 minutes later, he says they're not done yet and repeated his optimism.  

He then came on again about 10 minutes later and said his earlier optimism was unfounded as the cockpit checks weren't matching up with maintenance.  

Shortly afterwards the flight attendant suddenly stated the doors would be closing for departure.

About 3 hours later, I was home.

Because I was gone most of the weekend and the family didn't get to do much in my absense, I gave them a special treat on Sunday and took them to the dog park.

How was your weekend?