May 31, 2012

Bug Zapper Tennis Racquet

So Luke was at a friend's house a couple weeks ago and discovered a cool new toy.   I don't know the official name, but we've been calling it the Bug Zapper Tennis Racquet.

It looks like a tennis racquet, but acts like those old fluorescent bug zappers that used to hang outside of Dairy Queen on a hot summer night and you could hear that thing fry bugs like they were being executed in the electric chair.

You swing it through the air and kill the bugs around you.  It works real good when you catch the bugs, but they aren't exactly willing to fly into it, so it does take work to clear your yard.

Luke and I were bored tonight, so thought it would be fun to try to make a commercial advertising these things.  Now my good camera is in the shop, so I only had my iPhone 4 camera to work with so the production values are pretty weak, but it made all of us giggle so I thought I'd share it with you to see if you like it as well.  

Maybe we can get this video to go viral and then we'll become the traveling spokespeople for the bug zapper tennis racquet people.  That would be so cool.

Here goes:

Here's a link on Amazon if you're interested in getting one for your self!

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend 2012

Memorial Day Weekend 2012
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 28, 2012

We've been getting drenched with rain lately so we haven't had much opportunity to get out on the boat. But Friday night, we saw a break in the storm schedule so we decided to go for it!  It was worth the wait of avoiding the rain so the boys could go out and get drenched on the tube.  At least mom and dad stayed dry.

Grandma also stayed dry, but she really wishes we could do something about that darned wind.  It totally messes up her life.

On Sunday, we thought it would be fun to rent a kayak.  Luke and I had a blast on it for about 5 minutes.  We then realized that God probably never meant for the two of us to be trying to row a kayak with one another.

It seemed to me that Miss Sheri and Avery were much smarter by selecting a paddle-boat to navigate because I should be able to move a lot easier by using my legs than my arms.  So I switched with Miss Sheri.  After about 5 minutes of that I suddenly realized that I'm just old, fat, and out of shape!

After struggling for a half hour on the boats, we let Avery go release some of his pent-up aggression on a bunch of golf balls at the driving range.  It gets tiring being born to a father that sucks at paddling a paddle boat.

On Sunday night, we had the pleasure of going to Dr. Bollig's for a holiday BBQ.  It was a bunch of fun!  Mainly because we released the kids in the woods in the backyard right when we got there and didn't see them again until late at night when it was time to go home. So we got to have some adult time for awhile!

On Memorial Day, we woke up early to go to Downtown Prior Lake to see the Memorial Day Parade and ceremony to honor those brave men and women who gave their lives defending our country.  It was a great parade and a beautiful day to enjoy it!

Luke and Avery were in the parade marching proudly with Troop 331.  They did so good walking in a straight line!  At least for awhile...

Our friends, Portia and Doc Vogt, hang out with the WWII Historical Reenactment Crowd and were in the parade riding in their jeep with a really big gun on it.  It looked like fun.  At least until you hit a bump and shoot out somebody's windshield that is.

As soon as the boys saw their friend's cool ride, suddenly driving home with mom and dad didn't seem to be very much fun.  So they went home with them for the day and I really hope nobody got shot along the way.

Preacher Upset When He Learns About

May 20, 2012

Golfing at Oak Hills in Clear Lake, Iowa

Golfing at Oak Hills in Clear Lake, Iowa

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 20, 2012

The week started with a business trip to Seattle  to see our good friends at Microsoft and learn about all their exciting plans for the next year or so.  It's going to be a big one for them with new releases like Windows 8, Server 2012, Office 15, and the new version of Windows Phone.  Microsoft is re-creating the entire landscape of the technology world in the coming months and I can't wait to go along for the ride!

My 2012 Travel Troubles continued on this trip.  

You can read about some of my earlier problems here: 

As you can see in the picture, my plane was scheduled to leave at 5:35 and as of 9:18, I was still standing outside of it.

No major deal.  I just love sitting at airports for hours and hours!

On Saturday morning, I drove down to Clear Lake to hook up with my buddies and play golf at Tom Sherman's course called Oak Hills. It's one of my favorite courses in the world!  Mainly because I've been playing there for the past 25 years and I have a lot of great memories there.  And the boys and I were ready to create some new ones!

The first thing we decided to do was track down our old pal, Jason Anderson.  I heard he was living under a bridge, but never actually believed it until I watched him crawl out from underneath with my own eyes.  It had to be a real pain to get comfortable while trying to sleep down there.

Jason's parents, Dennis and Marsha, were very excited to learn that we located their son.  They were even more excited when we told them that we were going to take him golfing which would keep him out of their hair for a few more hours.

Things were pretty intense once the golfing began.  Ron has been a deputy sheriff for over a year now.  He currently works as a guard at the county jail, but apparently his long term goals involve being a traffic cop.  He was practicing his moves all day and just kept exclaiming "Some day, I'm gonna do it!"

Jason was pretty mellow this trip.  He was very concerned that I was going to post embarrassing photos of him on the internet, but he should know I wouldn't do that.  Besides, he never really gives me any good pictures to work with.

On the 9th hole, Jason had a couple of very bizarre coincidences strike him at the same time.  First, when he exited the golf cart and walked up to tee off, a huge tree branch suddenly broke off and came crash landing to the ground just a few feet away from where he was standing.

Then, when he shot his ball, it went straight towards this tree and landed in a hole in it's hollowed out trunk.  I don't know what message God was trying to send him with this series of events, but I tried to avoid standing nearby him for the rest of the day.

After 27 holes of golf, we decided it was time to celebrate with night out on the town.  At the OP, we bumped into Cindy Brinkman and her husband, Doug.  It's been like 25 years or something since I've seen her last, so we had a great time catching up.  

At Rookies, we saw a lot of old friends including a couple West Brothers and Evie Calease.  We played pool, sang songs, and did all sorts of fun things while we were there.  I just love going back to Clear Lake.  So many good people live there.

But the highlight of the day, was the reunion of the Dynamic Duo, Krazy Kory and Krazy Kelly Madson!  The bad guys of the world better watch out if these two ever decide to start fighting crime together!

On Sunday, the family and I went bowling together with the Good Folks at Camp Odayin to celebrate the kickoff of another camping season.  I bowled 124 with the bumpers up and 88 without them.  I think the people around us were pretty impressed with my skills, but of course they didn't tell me that to my face.  I could just sense that was what they thinking.

May 18, 2012

People Who've Inspired Me: Will Bowen

I've been blogging since 1999.  Of course, we didn't call them blogs back in those days.  They were just regular old websites.

In the thirteen years since I started posting web pages, I've met some pretty interesting people on the internet.

I just saw a great Facebook Post from one of those people which inspired me to start a new series of posts about People Who've Inspired Me.

The first guy I'd like to write about is named Will Bowen.

You may remember seeing Will on the Today Show:

Here's what his website, A Complaint Free World, has to say about him:

In July 2006 Will Bowen offered a simple idea for people to monitor their success at eradicating complaining from their lives. His idea exploded around the world and nearly 6 million purple Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in more than 106 countries.

Bowen has been featured on Oprah, NBC's The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The ABC Evening News, Fox News Channel and in hundreds of TV and radio interviews around the world. Stories about him and the movement he created have been written about in over 200 newspapers, "People" magazine, "O" magazine, "Self" magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

His first book, "A Complaint Free World," published in October, 2007 by Doubleday, is an international bestseller . The book has been published in more 14 foreign countries to date and is an audio book, read by Bowen, published by Random House Audio. His second book, "Complaint Free Relationships" was published December 2009 by Doubleday.

I first heard from Will back in 2003.  I couldn't find the original emails he wrote me, but this was one of the early ones I found from March of 2004.

Hi, Shortarmguy (sorry 'don't recall your real name),
You may not remember me but I've emailed you a few times (sent you some photos and videos you put on your site). 
I build web sites and I'm a minister.  This may surprise you but I can't wait until after giving my Sunday sermon to then come home and check to see your weekly updates.  And, one Christmas, my dad, two brothers and myself spent hours on your site going back through the archives and laughing like mental patients.Will

Link To Original Email

In January, 2007, I received another email from him about a new project he was developing that was starting to generate a lot of excitement:

Hi, Todd.
I've emailed you a couple of times over the years.  I really enjoy your web site.  I'm a minister and find your humor enjoyable (we all have a dark/fun side and I resonate with what you present).  In addition to your web site, I also really enjoy your spirit.  You seem like a really good guy and I like your positive spin on things.
To that end, I wanted to share something with you that you might pass along should you wish to pass along.  Back in July, I encouraged our church members to eradicate complaining, criticizing and gossiping from their lives.  When you complain, you attract more of what you don't want. If you focus on what you want, you'll attract that into your life. 
Our church is small--about 200 a Sunday.  To help them get the lesson, we gave everyone a purple wrist band/bracelet to wear.  Scientists say it takes 21 days to form a new habit so they were invited to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, criticizing or gossiping. They were encouraged to wear the bracelet and and, when they caught themselves complaining (we all do it), then to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and begin again.  It's tough, but people who have made it say that it has change their lives forever.
The Kansas City Star wrote a story about this and it was picked up by 64 papers around the world (including Stars and Stripes!).  We've now sent out nearly 60,000 "Complaint-Free Bracelets" to every state in the US as well as to Australia, South Africa, Germany, Ireland and Belgium and Canada. 
Tomorrow, a reporter from the LA Times is flying in to do a story about The Complaint Free movement for the national edition of their paper.  You can check out our web site: www.AComplaintFreeWorld.orgto get more information.
Share this with your readers if you'd like. 
Thanks, Todd.  You're great.
Love and Blessings,
Will Bowen

Link To Original Email:

Will and I traded emails throughout the period he rose to International Fame.  

Nice Email of the Week
Many of you will remember my email from a couple of weeks ago from Will Bowen and his ministry's mission to create a complaint free world.
Here's an update from Will:
The LA Times article published yesterday.  After it hit, we received nearly 10,000 bracelet requests in less than 24 hours.  I've ordered another 57,000 bracelets which should be here in the next two weeks making our total now over 125,000 purple bracelets to 6 countries in 6 months.  The best part is, a friend asked me how many times a day I, personally, was complaining when I started this.  I said, "I was switching my bracelet about 20 times a day."  He said, "So, you've sent out 125,000 bracelets in 6 months, multiplied by 20 complaints a day....IMAGINE how many complaints you've taken out of the world in that time."
It's a great thought. 
Love and Blessings,
Will Bowen

Link To Original Email

Nice Emails of the Week
Congratulations to my friend, Will Bowen, and his Complaint Free World Movement!  They've now had more than a million requests for their purple bracelets!!  Will has been in contact with Oprah and there's a good chance he'll appear on her show at some point in the future!  It's such a great mission and it makes me so happy that it's getting the attention it deserves!
My personal attempt at a complaint free life is not going so hot.
I do pretty good on the weekends, but for some reason going back to work in the crazy computer business brings out my angry side!
But I'll keep trying...

Link To Original Post:

Will also sent me a copy of the book to shill on my website although I doubt it helped him all that much.  It still felt so cool to think I was part of his movement and watch him as his message rapidly was spread around the world!

I was honored this week to receive my Pre-Release copy of "A Complaint Free World" by my old friend, Will Bowen.

If you look at the number of bracelets in the second letter above, he says his church had given away more than 60,000 bracelets.  Today, his church has given away nearly 10,000,000 bracelets!  See Here.  And they're still going strong!

 On Facebook, I just saw a post from Will.  It inspired me to look up his old emails and live through some memories of having an insider account of what it was like for someone who's experiencing the rush of becoming the leader of a worldwide movement. 

And today, Will looks like he's on top of the world. 

His Facebook post shows somebody who looks to be enjoying life and reaping some of it's finest rewards.  

He certainly deserves it after inspiring so many people in the world to lead better lives.

Including myself.

Thanks, Will!

May 13, 2012

Mother's Day at the Farm

Mother's Day at the Farm

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 13, 2012

On Tuesday night, we had the pleasure of going out for supper with my first cousin, Alison, whom I haven't seen in about 30 years!  We had a great time!!  I can't wait until the year 2042 so we can do it again!

Country Roads.  Take Us To Grandma Haack's House!  
It's Mother's Day!

When we arrived, Grandma was busy re-arranging her gas tanks.  Just another light day of work at the farm...

Sunny is always excited to go to the farm.  So many smells and so many new places to pee!

The boys are always excited to go to the farm also.  They get to do all sorts of things they don't get to do at home.  Mom and dad are excited when they do this because it's the only time we can ever get them to hug one another.

It was a beautiful day for a ride on the country roads.  Even if I did have to follow Avery and eat his dust for most of the day.

But riding the 4 Wheelers wasn't quite enough excitement for the weekend.  Since Miss Sheri has always told the boys that she learned how to drive at a very young age, they pestered her to let them have the same opportunity while we were there.  So we headed to an abandoned parking lot and held on for dear life.

Although they didn't go very far, I was actually quite impressed with how they did for their first time driving.  Now they're done with that for awhile.  

On Saturday night, we headed to the Doon Steak House for dinner.  I think both moms had a pretty nice time.  They sure like their meat.

May 9, 2012

Dock Dog Cinemagrams

The boys are at church and Miss Sheri is out shopping.

So it was time to take Sunny down to the dock and create some Cinemagrams...

I created this one with a young man who lives in the neighborhood.  He asked me to post the video online so here you go, Jagger.

Created with

I needed his help, because I struggled a bit trying to create cinemagrams by myself.

It's different than taking photos or even videos for that matter
For one thing, I can't figure out how to save videos on the fly to be able to edit them later.  

It's tough trying to throw the ball down the dock at the right speed and velocity to get the dog to go where I want him to go, then rush to pick up the camera and start recording the video with a steady hand.  

Then I have to pull the camera down to stop recording, quickly select the options to edit the video and give it a title, all while trying to keep a sopping wet, 90 pound dog entertained while he tries to gain my attention to throw him the Damned Ball again.

Created with

They're still fun to create though!

I hope you enjoy them!!!

Have a great Wednesday Night!

Todd Swank

May 6, 2012

The Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Canterbury Park

The Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Canterbury Park
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for May 6, 2012

I discovered an app called Cinemagram on my iPhone this week.  It allows you to mix photos and videos very easily and the results are pretty cool!

We've been having hours of fun with it.

We bought a couple new bird feeders this year for our yard.  We must be doing something wrong with them though, because no birds ever visit.  This chipmunk keeps showing up to eat the food, though.  We've named him Kitty.

Our old friends, the Zitzewitz Family, came over on Friday night for a very competitive game of Apples to Apples.  I never realized how vicious this game could be.  We discovered it's not a good idea to mix it with alcohol because there just ends up being way too many hurt feelings.

On Saturday morning, we went to Paragon Theaters in Burnsville to see a movie.  Whenever we go there, Sheri has to jump out of the car and sprint ahead of us so she can stand like this while we walk into the theater.  I'm really not sure why she feels the need to do this.

We went to see The Avengers 3D.  The boys loved it, but I thought it was just OK.  The Incredible Hulk was pretty funny, but the rest of the story kind of drug on for me.  I guess I'm just getting burned out on Super Hero movies.  You have invincible creatures fighting one another over and over again, but nothing ever really happens to them because they're invincible.  It makes you wonder what's the point after awhile.

At least we were able to stop at the food court afterwards.  That made me feel a little bit better.

I quickly ran to drop off the family at home and raced to Canterbury Park to watch the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby.  I'm not really into horse racing all that much, but I have a real affinity for pretty hats.

I finally found my old buddy, Jason Hornbuckle.  He was up to his old tricks trying to recruit couples into his Swinger's Club.

Lucky, I had other friends to sit with so I didn't have to watch Jason get rejected yet again.

Eventually, it was race time.  And what a race it was!!  I had money on a bunch of loser horses, but I was really rooting for Horse #19 "I'll Have Another!"  Of course, he won.  And I was happy because I was able to save valuable time by not having to stop by the ticket window again and collect any money.