September 29, 2013

Miss Sheri's Backyard Project

Miss Sheri's Backyard Project

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 29, 2013

I have been blogging since 1999. I started my site as a way to share photos of my kids with my friends, along with the crazy emails and videos I was getting each week. Since people always stare at me because of my funny arms, I thought I would give people what they wanted and show them a photo of me with my arms held high in the air for the world to see in an interesting new place every week. If you do the math, that means I've done this nearly 700 times since I started my website! And probably many more times than that since each week I take multiple shots to get one that I like. As can be seen in this video. This week was a very boring week at the Shortarmguy house. We went shopping for some patio furniture last night at Hom Furniture and Sears. We tried to take some pictures in interesting places. For some reason, my camera recorded a little bit of video before each photo. The result made Miss Sheri and I laugh out loud. We hope you enjoy it as well.

We had a very mellow week.  Miss Sheri is no longer working at the school and instead has spent her time being a full time mom again and working on our house.  We're prepping for a big project we're doing in our backyard and I promised my sister I'd shoot some "Before Pictures" and send them to her.  So while I was at it, I figured I could share them with all of my friends as well.

We've lived in our house for 12 years now and have never had very good luck with the grass in the areas of our yard which are covered with large trees.  I always used the excuse that we were raising children and not raising grass, but that excuse is getting a little old now that my kids are in high school.  So we figured we'd better invest in some new dirt which is on the way.  I figure for old times sake, we'll roll the kids around in the dirt before planting the shady seeds.

We decided the old swingset needed to go when Avery climbed on one of the steps and it broke beneath his foot because he was too big for it.  So Miss Sheri put an ad on Craigslist and some nice men came over, took it apart, and hauled it away.  Now it's just a bunch of gravel, a leftover pile of sand, and a bunch of memories of the days our kids were still little enough to love playing on a swingset.

We had some fun fires in the old brick firepit, but now it's just a pile of ashes.  It reminds me of a song from my youth.  Dust in the wind.  All we are is dust in the wind.  I guess I didn't realize how depressing this backyard project was going to end up being.

I guess we had a lot of bricks in that firepit.  Some of these were also from different areas in the backyard as well, but when I saw how many of them were here, I thought "That's a lot."  I also thought "I'm sure glad Miss Sheri likes doing this kind of stuff because that looks like an awful lot of work."

Speaking of a lot of work, she also got a wild hair to cut down this big tree that we hated since we moved here.  A couple of the neighbor men helped her cut it down and chop it up, but they both later told me that they were amazed at how good Sheri was at hauling the wood to the truck and throwing it into the trailer.  

She also tried to remove another tree stump we had along the side of our house by wrapping a chain around it and connecting it to the family mini-van to yank it out of the ground.  Fortunately for the stump, it proved to be much stronger than our Saturn Relay so it will live to fight another day.  But if I know Miss Sheri, that stump may have won the battle, but I'll still place my money on her to win the war!

On Saturday night, I took Miss Sheri and Grandma Linda out to dinner to tell my wife how much I appreciate all her hard work.  I may not be good at hauling bricks and tree parts, but I do know how to pick out a good steak restaurant!!  Outback here we come!

September 24, 2013

VARs To Microsoft: 'Come Talk To Us' About Surface 2

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Microsoft partner based in Minnetonka, Minn., said he hopes Microsoft will announce a new channel strategy following the Surface 2 unveiling. 

"That's still the biggest issue. Microsoft has thousands and thousands of partners out there ready to sell these tablets," he said. 

"The channel is one of the biggest advantages Microsoft has over Google and Apple, and they're not using it." Swank said he likes the improved battery life and performance for Surface Pro 2, but said Microsoft still hasn't addressed what he believes is the biggest issue for the original Surface Pro. 

"The biggest problem for Surface Pro, other than the fact that partners couldn't sell it, was the price point," Swank said. "Surface Pro 2 looks nice, but it's still very expensive. And it's more expensive than a lot of competing devices." 

The Surface Pro 2 is priced at $900, and the Surface 2 tablet starts at $450. Equus' Swank and other partners said Microsoft  is shooting itself in the foot if it wants a toehold in the enterprise. 

Read Full Article Here:

September 22, 2013

Prior Lake Homecoming 2013

Prior Lake Homecoming 2013
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 22, 2013

On Thursday night, we went out to dinner with our neighbor, Jim.  Mystic Lake Steak House was a winning choice again.  Good food at that place.

On Friday night, we picked up Grandma Linda and brought her to the Prior Lake Homecoming game and met up with Mark and Heidi Wojahn.  We were ready for some football!

Before the game started, we got to see our boys perform in the marching band.  That Avery sure is our favorite tromboner.

While Luke has rhythm and gets to bang big plates together which looks like a lot of fun.  Glad they're not my plates, though.

The student section started getting rowdy waiting for the game to begin.  Prior Lake high school is like the 6th biggest school in the state of Minnesota, so when this group gets going it can be heard for miles around!  And when they start bouncing, it makes me nervous wondering how long those bleachers are going to stay standing!

The sky was kind of scary, but we luckily avoided getting wet.  That was about the best thing that we could say about the game, though, since unfortunately the home team which had been ranked 7th in the state was upset by visiting Rosemount by a score of 24-13.  I guess for next year's homecoming they might want to think about inviting an easier team to play.

For half time, the boys and the rest of the Freshman band got to go on the field to play a couople of songs with the Varsity Band which gave us something more to cheer about.

 Did I mention that Avery is our favorite tromboner?  I just love saying that word.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early to go support Camp Odayin and their Heart and Sole walk.  It's also called a Heart and Sole Run, but I'm not very fond of that activity, so we just focus on the walk aspect of the event instead.

A lot of people apparently like to run though, so we stayed out of their way until they passed.  If people have that kind of energy, I sure don't want to make them angry.

We like our pace which gives us much more stamina to be goofy to people walking by us.

The best part of the event is getting to see our old friends like Sara who is the founder of Camp Odayin.

As well as Bess and Matt who we've known for years thanks to various camping outings and other events.  They're all such nice people.

We even bumped into Dr. Bakrer, the boy's cardiologist.  During our last visit he said Luke could go without having another visit for a whole year and Avery could go 2 years before he needs to see him again.  So it's nice to see him in a casual encounter rather than for professional reasons.

Luke and Avery had to leave the walk early so we could get home and start preparing for the big Homecoming Dance on Saturday night.  The kids had a great time.  So great in fact that I'm busy trying to figure out how I can chaperone the event next year so I don't have to miss out on all the fun!  And I'm sure my boys would just appreciate it so much if they could see me at the big dance.

September 16, 2013

Sunny September Saturday. Dock Dog Time!

Sunny the golden retriever loves to jump from our neighbor's dock. This is technically three different jumps edited into one to make it appear like we had multiple camera angles going. But we didn't.

Dan Navarro House Concert Music Video

Dan Navarro plays old and new classics at a house concert in Monticello, Minnesota along with Dan Schwartz and Doan Brian Roessler.  Awesome stuff!

September 15, 2013

Dan Navarro House Concert

Dan Navarro House Concert
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 15, 2013

On Sunday it was still nice enough to get in a boat ride after watching the Vikings lose.  Will this be our last boat ride of the summer?  Judging from the scared looks on the kids' faces, they just might not mind if it is!

The weather has definitely been cooler this week.  Minnesota really didn't feel like we had much of a summer this year.  I'm sure the blizzards are going to be starting for us again in a couple weeks or so and we'll be right back into the thick of winter!  One of these days, I'm moving South.

On Friday night, we had a pleasant visit from our old friends, Jason and Jen.  Naturally I had to make them pose for a picture on the front porch with my family before we left for the evening.  Jason made fun of me like this isn't a normal thing that people do.  What does he know.

Mystic Lake Casino has become a much rowdier place since they started selling alcohol earlier this year.  Jen could barely walk by the band before she was kidnapped by some guy who danced up a storm with her.  That kind of stuff didn't ever happen when it was Booze Free.

On Saturday, we were invited to a house concert by our good friends, Mark and Heidi Wojahn.  It was raining outside, so the concert was moved into the garage where we could all get cozy together and listen to an afternoon of incredible music.

Rick Soule and Tom Pavek were the opening act and played a bunch of great songs including Tin Man which was originally recorded by America.  I forgot how much I enjoyed that song and their version was awesome!

The featured performer and birthday boy was Dan Navarro.  Dan was accompanied by two incredible Minnesota musicians named Dan Scrwatz and Doan Brian Roessler.  Dan Navarro shot to fame in the early eighties by writing the song "We Belong" for Pat Benetar with his long time writing partner Eric Lowen.  Lowen and Navarro went on to release several records of their own and toured together until 2009 when Eric had to stop performing due to complications he had because of ALS.  Lowen died in 2012, but Dan shares his spirit with those of us who never had the chance to enjoy hearing him play live by performing many of their beautiful songs and reminiscing about their days touring together. 

This was the 5th year in a row they did this house party.  I've met the hosts, but don't really know them very well.  They seem like very nice people who have followed Lowen and Navarro for many years based on the photos and memorabilia they have scattered around.  They also have one of the coolest garages I have ever seen in my entire life!

This was my second year in a row attending this concert, but I think I really appreciated it a lot more this time around.  Dan shares so much about his life while performing and I really started to admire him and the others that were accompanying him on Saturday.  These guys rock.

Microsoft Preps Surface 2 Tablets For Sept. 23 Unveiling In NYC

Better performance and battery life will help, but the best thing Microsoft could do to spark Surface 2 sales would be to let more partners sell it, Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing for Equus, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN. 

"I'm guessing the Surface margins wouldn't be great, but as long as the channel could make a bit of money on services and add-on sales, it would fit into Microsoft's existing distribution model pretty well," Swank said in an interview.

Read the full article here:

Western Digital To Buy Virident, May Mess Up Seagate's Virident Relationship

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder, said Western Digital's planned acquisition of Virident shows the continuing consolidation of the SSD market, a move he said he welcomes. 

"Companies like SanDisk (NSDQ:SNDK), Micron, Intel (NSDQ:INTC) and Seagate are adding to their SSD tech portfolio," Swank said. "Western Digital has to keep up." 

 It will get increasingly harder for SSD and flash storage vendors to compete as the larger vendors continue to increase in size, Swank said. 

"There are a lot of companies out there, but it's tough for them to compete," he said. "They need to consolidate." 

That makes it important for Western Digital to acquire a company like Virident, Swank said. "What does Western Digital offer today that companies like SanDisk, Micron, Intel, Seagate or Samsung don't?" he said. "This opens the door for Western Digital to compete. Consolidation is a good thing. It makes the companies stronger."

Read Full Article Here:

September 8, 2013

Nice Email of the Week for September 8, 2013

Wow, I am impressed have been to more events in this nation than anyone I have ever known and believe you, me, I know a lot! Great job man, love the pictures, keep 'em coming and keep running with the ball Todd, incredible. -Jake

September 7, 2013

2013 Minnesota State Fair

2013 Minnesota State Fair
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 7, 2013

On Labor Day, a fair was in the air, so we went to check it out.

There was also a bunch of fish.

There was also a pumpkin   A really, really big pumpkin.  881 pounds to be exact and it was grown by a guy by the name of Bill Foss from Buffalo, Minnesota.  We have the impression that Mr.  Foss leads a pretty rock and roll lifestyle.

Snakes.  Why does it always have to be snakes?

Greyhounds.  Why does it always have to be greyhounds?

Some people really like the fair.  Everywhere you go, you see people jumping for joy.

Some people jump bikes for joy as well.

The kid from the University of Minnesota seemed pretty excited to show off the solar race car they've been building.  Looks pretty cool.  I wish I would have asked to see if I could borrow it to drive around some night.

The Fair is still engaging in the horrible practice of removing young ladies heads and encasing them in butter.  I don't know how this is even remotely legal.

This lady had her own booth selling her incredible artistic creations.  She takes different colored clays and turns them into a face like this, then she squeezes it very small and starts slicing off little clay faces to build her other creations.  I was fascinated and inspired by what she does.  Although I didn't buy anything from her, so she probably thought I was a jerk.

I did buy from this young lady, though.  She had some really good cookies!

All in all, the Swank Family had a pretty good day at the fair.

On Friday night, we had a great time joining our old friends at Nor-Tech to wish Chrissy Belcher well wishes in her retirement.  She said she was going to just kick back for a year or so while her and her husband figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.  That sounds pretty cool to me!  Where do I sign up?

There was a bunch of fun people there: