March 31, 2013

The Snow IS Melting at The Minnesota Zoo

The Snow IS Melting at The Minnesota Zoo
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 31, 2013

I know the calendar says it's Spring outside, but we still have lots of snow on the ground in Minnesota!  But I was ready to go outside this weekend, so I told the family "Let's go to the Zoo!"  And that's what we did...

We were impressed to find that there were a lot of new changes to the zoo since our last visit including these brand new Buffalo Statues out front!

Although I'm not sure why they felt the need to make these buffalo so anatomically correct.  There's children that come here!

Our first stop was in Discovery Bay where we tried to pet a shark, but none of them seemed all that interested in being rubbed.

We wandered by the wave pool where we were reminded of approximately 10 years ago when Avery was three years old and quite curious about the big sponges and starfish in the water.  He was standing at my feet when he reached too far forward and fell head first into the water.  I quickly pulled him out but not before he got soaked and a huge mouthful of salt water.  Needless to say, he wasn't very happy about it.  I tried to get Avery to repeat the feat during this visit, but he wasn't that interested.

I thought Sheri seemed kind of sad while watching the seahorses, but then I realized she was just looking blue because of the reflection from the tank..

This guy didn't look too happy to see us.

Hey, no monkey business!

This was my first year realizing that I may be getting too old to have the desire to crawl through a log to stare at animals.  When the heck did that happen?

The zoo has a new bird show which we really enjoyed watching.

That is until I made the boys each go up and ask the bird lady a question after the show.  Then they started feeling like the zoo was a little bit too much like school.

Eventually we worked our way outside where we realized it was still too darn cold outside in Minnesota.

The grizzly bears didn't seem to mind the cold much.  I guess if I had a fur coat like that, I wouldn't mind either.


On Easter Sunday, we took Grandma to her church for an early morning service and then to brunch at the Mystic Lake Casino Buffet.

Happy Easter Everyone!!!!

My Last Day At Nor-Tech

My Last Day At Nor-Tech
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 31, 2013

A week ago Friday was my last day working at Nor-Tech.  After nearly 14 years of working at the company, I figured it was a good time to go after a new life adventure.  Some good friends came to bid me adieu.

The hardest part of my decision to leave Nor-tech was leaving the Bolligs.  I have worked with David in some capacity since 1993 and they became my boss in 1999.  They are some of the most generous people I've met in my lifetime and they've provided me with a high level of comfort since they hired me.  I'm really going to miss seeing them on a daily basis.

The best part of my last day at Nortech was getting the chance to take a picture with Jay.  It's been a few years since he let me take a photo with him!  He and I butted heads a lot when he started at Nortech, but in the past few years he's been one of my closest confidants.  He has been so supportive of me since I made my decision and was my biggest cheerleader during the emotional rollercoaster of winding down my old job.  Thanks, Jay!

Not everybody was quite so friendly to me during my final days.  Larry Appleseed actually frisked me on the last day when I was walking out of the building!  He didn't find anything, but it certainly wasn't from a lack of looking!

David and Emile joined us for the party.  Emile let me know that she had also accepted a new job recently which is great!  I think the economy might be finally starting to rebound because it seems like a lot of people I know are making career changes lately.  At least I hope that's what it means.

Hey!  Who ate the last piece of cheese bread?!?!?

So I left the company and I thought everyone was being really nice to me on my last day.  But when I drove home from work that last time, I noticed I had this screw drilled deep into my tire and had to buy a new one. That's just gotta be a coincidence, right?

March 17, 2013

Camp Odayin on KARE 11

Camp Odayin on KARE 11
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 17, 2013

It's been a pretty emotional week.  After nearly 14 years of working at Nor-Tech, I've decided to accept a position at another company.  As you can see, my co-workers took the news pretty well!

On Tuesday night, we had the joy of seeing my Ex-Brother In Law, Cliff, his wife, Claudia, and his daughter, Cloe.  We went to Dick's Last Resort where the waiters insult the customers and had a lot of fun!
Cloe seemed to really like the place also,although I don't think she was too impressed with Dick's outfit!
On Thursday, Luke and Avery were on the 5 O'Clock news with meteorologist, Jerrid Sebesta, helping to represent Camp Odayin.  I think they needed to smile more for the cameras, but I do think they enjoyed themselves!

On Saturday night, we went to the American Legion in Savage to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and watch my neighbor's band, Harlow's Edge.  They Rock.

Dan and I wore our best hats for the occasion!

Miss Sheri and the ladies were in festive moods as well!

We even drug out our old friends, Rob and Dani, to join us in the night of debauchery.  It was a lot of fun!!

March 10, 2013

Prior Lake 8th Grade Band 2013

Prior Lake 8th Grade Band 2013
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 10, 2013

This winter we have spent lots of time attending a variety of Middle School Band Concerts as Luke and Avery are part of the 8th grade pep band and the Middle School Honor Band in Prior Lake.  As you can see by the expression on their faces, they get so excited every time they have the chance to perform!

Avery plays the trombone.

While Luke plays Percussion.

Mainly because we think it's fun watching him trying to move the largest instruments from one part of the room to the other.

In the past several weeks, the boys have played in Gymnasiums....



...And more Gymnasiums.

They've also had the opportunity to perform alongside some interesting characters like this lady and her husband who each played the Alp-horn!  It was kind of embarrassing, though, because every time they started playing, Miss Sheri stood on the top of her chair and bellowed "Ricola!"  It sounded a lot like this.

We love it when the boys perform because it gives us reasons to take their pictures!  I'm not sure if they love this, though.

Even when I'm completely on the other side of the gymnasium and using the mega-zoom feature of my camera, Avery somehow still knows what I'm up to.

But every now and then, they forget we're out there and we actually catch them smiling.  Which makes all of the hours and hours that we have to listen to them practice worth it.  Kind of...

Here's a video clip of their performance:

March 3, 2013

Minnesota FTC Robotics Tournament 2013 Ring It Up

Minnesota FTC Robotics Tournament 2013 Ring It Up
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 24, 2013

It was State Tournament time for the Minnesota FTC Robotics Team, so I headed to Prior Lake High School to join in on the fun!

This year's competition is called Ring It Up.  Basically, each team's robots has to collect rings and put them on a rack.  The higher they go, the more points they get.  Here's an animation of how the game works:

My boys have been involved in the Middle School Robotics team at Prior Lake, so when KING TeC was looking for volunteers to help ref the tournament I said I'd be happy to help.  There was a bunch of other cool guys there doing the same thing.

I was pretty impressed with the size of the crowd!  There were 36 teams there to compete and each one brought a bunch of supporters to cheer them on!

Before we knew it, it was time to get it on!  We had about 60 matches to get through so we were all set for a long day!

I wasn't quite prepared for the fact that I was going to be standing on my feet for nearly 10 hours straight!  I've had too many years at a desk job to handle that.  By the end of the day, I was pretty wiped out!

Although I did get tired, I absolutely had a blast being part of such a fast paced event with so many cool kids who spent so much time building really talented robots.  I was involved in some controversial matches and really had to stay focused to do my best to not miss anything because each match had so much going on.  By the end, one team was awarded the right to advance to the World Championships which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Here's some video from the event!