April 28, 2013

A Visit to Bellevue, Washington and City of Industry, California

A Visit to Bellevue, Washington and City of Industry, California
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 28, 2013

I was leaving on a jet plane multiple times this week starting in Seattle, Washington on Sunday.

The reason for my visit to Washington was to attend the Microsoft AMP OEM Marketing event along with a couple of hundred other people from companies like DELL, HP, Lenovo, as well as many other of the largest computer manufacturers in the world.  Unfortunately Microsoft was pretty adamant about not taking pictures at the event or even sharing anything that we discussed so I can't say much about it.  But I will tell you that Microsoft has some pretty exciting things up their sleeves!

I actually stayed in Bellevue, Washington which is a pretty upscale community.  This fact was reinforced to me when I was walking through a parking lot at the shopping mall and saw my first Tesla Charging Station.  These are some of the nicest (and most expensive) electric cars on the planet and here were four of them plugged in and getting ready for action.  I thought about waiting around for one of the owners so I could ask them for a ride, but was pretty hungry so I went to eat instead.

I always enjoy flying out of Seattle because I usually get a pretty good view of Mount Rainier, but this was my first time flying south to California so I saw a bunch of other big mountains as well.  I have no idea what this one is called, but it looks like some really tall person accidentally stepped on it.

The next stop on my trip was East Los Angeles to visit my new company's main production facility in City of Industry.  This was my first time here and I was amazed with the number of warehouses I saw flying over the area.  There's large buildings sprawled out in every direction as far as the eye could see!

I had a bunch of great meetings and met many of my new California Co-Workers.  There's a bunch of really smart, hard working people out here.  On Thursday night, some of my new colleagues decided to take us to a restaurant called Man Sun Japanese in Walnut, California.  It ended up being one of the most unique dining experiences of my life.

They asked me before I went if I liked Raw Fish.  But I had no idea that we'd also be eating snails, seaweed, whole quail eggs, and way too many things that still had eyes attached to them.  I've never been a huge fan of eating food that stares at me while I'm eating it.

Being stared at is one thing, but I was shocked when the plate of lobster and shrimp arrived.  We'd been eating off the plate for a couple of minutes, when I suddenly noticed that the lobster was still moving!  Talk about fresh food.  

Here's a video I took that shows what I'm talking about:

I was amazed with the amount of food they brought out to us.  The plates just kept coming and coming!  This one was some kind of eel.  I actually tried way more of the different kinds of food than I thought I would and to be honest with you, there wasn't anything that I thought tasted that bad.  As long as you didn't think about what you were eating.

We ate the insides of this sea urchin in an earlier course.   Then they brought out the outer body and used it as a bowl to serve us some yummy rice.  Nothing gets wasted in this place! 

When I first saw this item, I thought it was some kind of bird.  Then they told me it was actually the head of one of the fish we had on a different plate.  I thought to myself that there was no way I was eating that, but then one of my colleagues insisted it was actually very good.  I tried a small bite and must admit, it wasn't half bad.

My favorite course was the dessert, of course.  The green tea ice cream was very good!

We ended up being at the restaurant for several hours and through more courses than I could count!  Although, it was a very unique experience to eat there, I'm hoping for my next visit to California that they decide we should go to a nice steak house instead!

Flying home I had the chance to witness first hand what the sequester cuts are doing to the TSA screening procedures.  It only took me about an hour to get through the line which was more than worth it if it helps our government to start reining in some of their spending.  But that's just me. 

Intel Partners: Reports Of The PC's Death Premature

But, solution providers say there's still demand for new desktops and notebooks today, even in the face of massive growth in tablets and smartphones. 

"There's still a lot of PCs being purchased," said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus, a system builder based in Minnetonka, Minn. "The whole 'PC is dead' talk is a bit overblown." 

 Swank said the PC market may be declining in the consumer space where tablets have become popular, but that PC demand in the commercial space overall is still relatively healthy. 

"Smartphones and tablets are taking a chunk out of the PC market, but that's more in the consumer space," Swank said.

Read Full Article Here:

April 21, 2013

Dick's Last Resort at the Mall of America

Dick's Last Resort at the Mall of America
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 21, 2013

On Friday night, we connected with our old friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  They had never been to Dick's Last Resort at the Mall of America so we thought we'd go there for dinner.  This is the restaurant where the waiters tease and insult their customers.  Since we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves, we thought it would be a good chance to bring our positive attitudes down a notch.

The boys could hardly contain their excitement to be here.

Karl and Tina luckily brought along some hats that allowed them to blend right in with the rest of crowd.

The waitress created hats for us.  She made fun of me for my lack of hair and Sheri for being a mom.  I think we were let off pretty easy all things considered.

Today is Sunny's 8th birthday which is 56 in Dog Years.  He's feeling pretty smug about it.

This lake is mine.

I call it, Lake Sunny!

Press Stories About My New Company

As many of you know, I started a new job recently.

I'm the new Senior Director of  Product Marketing for Equus in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Here's a nice article about Equus that was written in the Minnesota Star Tribune last October:

Minnetonka company is going outside the white boxhttp://www.startribune.com/business/172921901.html?refer=y

This week I reached out to some of my friends in the industry journal, Computer Reseller News, and I was honored to be quoted in three different articles:

Intel Boosts Software, Services Play With Mashery Acquisition

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus, an Intel partner based in Minnetonka, Minn., said the acquisition is an interesting development for Intel's data center strategy. "The opportunities there are staggering for building the cloud-enabled world we are all enjoying so much," Swank said. "Intel is a major player in the data center and the cloud today, and they're positioning themselves to make sure they stay that way for many years to come."

5 Reasons For The PC Market Decline

Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus, a system builder based in Minnetonka, Minn., said today's systems are simply more solid and robust and can run longer than a 3-to-4-year lifecycle. The components are better and faster, not to mention cheaper, and therefore modern PCs can run effectively for longer stretches, delaying PC refresh cycles.

IBM Partners Cheer Potential Sale Of x86 Server Business

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder, said that an IBM-Lenovo deal would boost Lenovo's market momentum. "A lot of custom systems companies are moving to reselling Lenovo," Swank said. "A deal with IBM would give Lenovo an excellent product line they could then combine with their low-cost manufacturing advantage. If you are a Lenovo reseller, it's good news. If not, it will be more tough down the road."

April 14, 2013

Festival at the Oaks 2013

Festival at the Oaks 2013
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 14, 2013

Winter is still hanging around like an unwelcome houseguest.  It's April 14 and it has snowed every day for the past week including a whopping 6 inches of snow on Wednesday which made the new commute to work last an hour and a half instead of the usual half hour.  I'm ready to move to Florida!  At least until hurricane season.

The poor birds seem especially hungry this year so Miss Sheri and Luke just started pouring the bird seed all over the porch.  This way a bunch of them can eat instead of just one or two that can normally fit on our bird feeder.

The other problem with the bird feeder is the fat squirrels usually hog all the food.  By pouring the food on the porch, it also gives Sunny a much better chance at catching one when we suddenly open the door after whispering to him "Git da Squirrel" over and over again.  Ahhh, who are we kidding.  Sunny will never catch one of them...

On Saturday, the boys were excited to attend the Festival at the Oaks Middle School Band Competition.  It was the first time a program like this had been put on in Prior Lake, so we really weren't sure what to expect.

We dropped the boys off first thing in the morning so they could attend some workshops and practice for their performance.  We then showed up a few hours later so we could watch them perform.  Of course when we found Luke, he was hanging out with friends without his instrument anywhere in sight.  Not sure what we're going to do with that kid!

Avery was up first to perform.  At home he told us he didn't want us to watch him while he did it, but right before he went in the room his friends asked if they could watch him and he said yes.  So I said, "Hey, what am I?  Chopped Liver?"  So he let us come in and watch also.  I was glad he let us, because I thought he did a great job!  Even if I am just a piece of meat.

I'm thinking Avery might have regretted his decision to let us in the room after I asked the judge if could snap a photo of the two of them together.  We later discovered that the judge gave him the highest mark of superior, so I guess he wasn't offended by my request.

Luke could care less if we came in to watch him perform which made me glad, because his performance also earned a superior ranking.   Their mom has been making them practice every day for weeks which caused an awful lot of belly aching, but I guess the practice paid off so the boys owe their mom an apology.  But we're not holding our breath for that.

After the concert, Grandma Linda was excited to come over and show us her new car.  Although she still struggles to reach the pedals and see over the steering wheel with this one, she seems happy with it.

Happy Easter!!  I know it's a couple of weeks late, but we finally received this photo from the church photographer who took it on Easter.  I just wish they would have used a more colorful backdrop.

April 7, 2013

Shortarmguy and Miss Sheri Go To Vegas

Shortarmguy and Miss Sheri Go To Vegas
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 7, 2013

The Prior Lake Middle School Honor Band had a trip to Chicago this week during Spring Break to perform at a few places like the Field Museum and go to see the Chicago Symphony perform.  Miss Sheri and I took some vacation days this week to join them and then Luke and Avery surprised us by saying they didn't want us to come because none of their friends' parents were coming.  So we wiped away the tears, looked each other in the eyes, grabbed hands, jumped up and down, and then screamed in unison  

"Let's Go To Vegas!!!"

We decided to stay at the Encore which is a beautiful resort on the strip.  We were surprised to learn that they had a swimming pool which featured European Sunbathing.  Miss Sheri and I were curious to check it out, but unfortunately the sign said that we weren't allowed to bring our camera with us so I have no photos to share of the experience.  Needless to say, we had fun and met a lot of interesting new people!

Normally when I go to Vegas, I get a little out of control.   Luckily, we met a new friend this time who led us in the right direction to have a proper good time.

Our first night, we thought we'd have fun hanging out at the casino in the Encore.  We went to the bar and ordered a couple of beers.  When the receipt came with a total of $18.00, I turned to Sheri and said, let's go to some of the nice, older casinos downtown instead!  So we headed to the Fremont Experience!

We wandered around, mingled with the street performers, ate at Tony Roma's, and played some Blackjack and Slots.  We weren't doing very good gambling and then we both played a Van Helsing Slot Machine together at the Fremont Casino that suddenly paid us a jackpot of $350.00.   That was the highlight of our trip as far as gambling went.  It was pretty much downhill from there for the rest of the week, but we both did go home being up money which was definitely a nice change of pace from our traditional Vegas experiences.

We woke up early on Thursday and then laid in bed for too long.  Finally, we stood up, did the buffet at the casino, and headed to Hoover Dam.  Because we heard the Dam Tour was a Dam Good Time!  Dam Jokes never get old!

We pretty much spent the whole day there learning about the Colorado River, how many people eat food nourished by the water it provides, how many people utilize the electricity it provides, and how challenging it was to control it by the US Department of Reclamations.  We remembered how much we missed our sons, but also thought about the fact that they would have been complaining for a good part of the day because it seemed a lot like school!

Eventually we went inside.  Miss Sheri kept complaining that the Dam Tunnels were too Dam Short!

We made our way out to the grate in the middle of the dam.  It was a little frustrating because the Dam Grate was really too small to see through much.

So I took my Dam Hand and held out my Dam Camera and reached through the Dam Grate to take some more Dam Pictures.  Then the Dam People standing behind me told me to hurry up, so I could get our of their Dam Way.

Our Dam Guide told us to be very careful not to bump into this box as we walked by it because the people at the US Geological Society tend to get pretty nervous when they see sudden shaking of the earthquake sensor box buried deep inside the Hoover Dam.  I have no idea why they placed this box so near the Dam Walking Tour, but the Dam Temptation to kick the Dam Thing was very Dam High for me!

That night I was excited to take Miss Sheri to see her first real Vegas show!  A few weeks ago, I asked my friends on Facebook which show to see and received overwhelming positive reviews for a show called "Absinthe" which was in a large tent in front of Caesars Palace.  Once again, my Facebook Friends came through for me!!  The show was absolutely awesome!

Since this was Miss Sheri's first Vegas show, I splurged and bought tickets in the front row.  Plus, the concierge told me they usually make fun of the people in the front row, so I couldn't resist.  What I wasn't prepared for was the fact the front row was literally just a couple feet away from the stage and many of the acts would be taking place literally immediately above our heads.  If anyone of them would have slipped and fallen, we would have taken a hard one right in the noggin.  In more ways than one.

Eventually, the Absinthe "Producer" came out to basically just rip in to the crowd.  He was hilarious and no topic was off limits.  He attacked a couple of guys that he insisted were gay, an older Asian couple, an older man that he identified as a Rich Republican, a black guy, and a Mexican guy just to name a few.  The audience roared with laughter.  Then he turned to me and started calling me "Flipper Boy".  The audience went silent.  I was laughing, but both Miss Sheri and I were shocked how people would laugh at all these other stereotypes, but for some reason my arms were off limits.  He then started attacking the audience for not laughing and said don't feel sorry for me because I was a "Rich Flipper Boy" after all, because I bought tickets in the front row.  Unfortunately, he left me alone after that.  I would have liked to still have been a target for him because he eventually had the Asian lady come on stage and then had the black guy and the Mexican guy do lap dances for her.  I would have crushed those guys!

On Friday night, we were scheduled to go on a helicopter ride to the grand canyon as another Facebook Friend suggested.  Unfortunately, the company called to cancel our flight without any explanation!  We'll get our money refunded, but it was a big disappointment because we were really looking forward to it.  We decided to do another show instead and wanted to do one from Cirque Du Soleil.  We picked Zarkana because it was the newest and the other ones we wanted to see were off this week.  I took the above photo at the beginning of the show and was then chastised by the usher that cameras weren't allowed.  After seeing the show, I can see why they're so protective of images getting out of their hands.  The show was pretty lousy!

When we re-connected with the boys on Saturday, we were all pretty tired.  We told them we went to Vegas and they told us they went to Chicago.  We shared photos with one another and then all went to bed exhausted.  We all had a pretty good week, even if it did wipe us out!

Here's a couple of video clips we took while we were there...