March 30, 2014

Kalahari Resorts in the Wisconsin Dells

Kalahari Resorts in the Wisconsin Dells
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 30, 2014

It was spring break this week so we loaded up the kids and drove to the Wisconsin Dells.  We stayed at Kalahari Resorts which was actually pretty awesome.  They have an African Safari theme so there were pictures and statues of jungle animals everywhere.  I never realized there were water parks in Africa, but if they're all like this one it must be a pretty awesome place to visit.

We went with our friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  The resort has several restaurants onsite, so we never had to go outside for the 3 days we were there which was great.  It's still dang cold in Wisconsin, so staying indoors was a nice way to spend vacation.

There were all sorts of crazy water slides that we enjoyed zipping down.  We got really wet when we hit the bottom.  Sometimes we got wet before we hit the bottom as well.  As a matter of fact, we got wet pretty much wherever we went in that place.

The scariest ride Karl and I did was the Screaming Hyena.  You get in this tube, shut the door, cross your feet, and put your hands behind your head.  Then a weird heart beat sound starts playing and a voice counts down from 3.  Then the floor drops out like a trap door sending you down a near vertical drop of about 60 feet.  The site says you go up to 25 miles an hour, but it feels a lot faster than that.  Especially when the water goes way up inside you whether you have your feet crossed or not!

When we weren't in the water park, we spent time at their indoor theme park which has all sorts of fun things to do like bowling.  We just loved the opportunity of wearing somebody else's shoes for awhile.  We can never seem to get enough of that.

The go karts were a lot of fun until you ran one into the wall at full speed which I did a couple of times.  My body just doesn't absorb G Forces like it once did.   I have too many parts that jiggle now and they don't seem to go back to their original shape very easily.

Laser tag was fun.  We always appreciate the opportunity to stalk and target one another.

We liked playing mini golf.  Some of us more than others.

All in all, it was a pretty excellent time.  We had quality bonding time with the boys and lots of fun with some good friends.  The food was super, the staff was friendly, and there were tons of activities to keep us entertained.  If you ever decide to go to the Dells, Kalahari Resorts would be a good choice to consider.

Best of all, I got to spend some fun times with my wife.  I sure do like that lady.

March 16, 2014

Lightwire....The Show. At Burnsville Performing Arts Center.

Lightwire....The Show.  At Burnsville Performing Arts Center.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 16, 2014

On Friday night we headed over to Burnsville's Performing Arts Center to see Lightwire.  The Show.  

A lot of people in Burnsville complained when the city built this facility a few years ago because it cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million dollars.  But if it gave me a chance to spend a fun night with my family, then I'd say that money was well worth it.  Thanks, Burnsville Tax Payers!

The show was part play, part musical, and part new age theater experiment.  We'd seen Lightwire on America's Got Talent a couple of years ago, so when we saw they were coming to town, we thought it would be worth investing an evening to see the performance.  We were all pretty entertained and glad we went.  Except for that flower with the wiener.  We had no idea what that was all about.

The plot was a little weak basically telling the story of a weird little bird who has a magical beak.  He gets kicked out of his flock in Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer fashion and then has to go back and save his girlfriend from some dude with a big light sword.  There was some singing and dancing along the way and lots and lots of lights that go on and off.  The performers wore black suits while carrying or wearing multi-colored LED lights that gave a magical effect that we hadn't really seen before.  I found this video on YouTube so you can get a taste of what it was like:

After the show, a couple of the performers came out to the lobby to chat with the crowd and show off their technology.  Their gear was a lot more high tech than I'd realized.  It will be interesting to see what happens when bigger entertainment companies like Disney adopt this technique into their shows, because it has a lot of potential to be a new way to tell a story.  Dare I say it has a very bright future!

On Saturday night, I hung out with my good friends, Jason and Jen.  They didn't wear any costumes with colored lights on them, but it was nice to see them all the same.

Intel Channel Chief Dallman To Retire

"He's a great guy, a great channel advocate, and a great friend to many partners like us," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus.  "He's an old-school channel executive who was always direct and never gave partners any BS." 

 Swank also said Dallman had distinguished himself in recent years as a staunch advocate of the custom systems channel, working hard to help system builders adapt to market changes and new technology. "He was a big champion of the system builder and always believed in the business," Swank said. "It's sad to see him go, but hopefully Intel will be able to continue the work he was doing with partners."

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March 9, 2014

Videos of 2014 Lake Superior FRC Regional robotics tournament in Duluth, Minnesota

Random videos I took at the 2014 Lake Superior FRC Regional robotics tournament in Duluth, Minnesota.  We traveled there to root for team #2169 KING TeC out of Prior Lake, Minnesota.

2014 FRC Lake Superior Regional Robotics Tournament in Duluth, Minnesota

2014 FRC Lake Superior Regional Robotics Tournament 
in Duluth, Minnesota

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 9, 2014

We took a couple of days vacation to travel north to Duluth, Minnesota to attend the 2014 FRC Lake Superior Regional Robotics Competition.  Two full days of robot on robot action was quite exhilarating! 

We went there to root on Prior Lake High School's robotics team, KING TeC, as they were going to defend their title after winning their regionals last year and advancing all the way to the finals of the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

Luke and Avery had been part of the middle school robotics program the past couple of years, but this was their first experience being part of the high school team.  

The boys actually went to the tournament without us and spent very little time with us in Duluth.  So we stalked them out at the restaurant they went to so I could do a sneak attack photo.  They were smiling here, but they sure didn't act like they wanted us to stick around for some reason!  How could they not want to spend more time with their cool parents?

We took advantage of the time to spend some time together and go on a series of dates.  Those boys have no idea on how much fun they missed out on by not hanging out with their mom and dad!

We did things like harass the local moose population.  At least I think that was a moose.

We also hung out at the local curling club.  I'd never been to one of these before.  It was pretty Cool!  In more ways than one. 

Back at the tournament Luke was busy at work "Scouting" the competition.  This year's game was called Aerial Assist and figuring out which robot to partner with was extremely important.  Here's the rules of the game which will show you why:

Avery was busy scouting also.

Coaches Olson and Volm did a great job with the kids this year.  They also look really good in crowns and capes.

Unfortunately for the team, their robot had some mechanical issues and they weren't able to repeat last year's performance on the field.  However, they did win the coveted Spirit Award for constantly singing and dancing, spreading positive energy, and cheering on their team and others.  Way to go, KING TeC!

Android Gains Ground On Apple In Tablet Race; Microsoft Still Struggling

"Tablets are a brutal business for solution providers. It doesn't matter if it's Microsoft, Android or Apple. From my point of view, we focus less on tablet hardware and more on the server and storage solutions that these tablets connect to," said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus, a Microsoft partner based in Minnetonka, Minn. Swank said the tablet challenge is adding value to commodity tablets with razor-thin margins. "In the enterprise, the market doesn't look any different today than it did a year ago. I don't see much changing in 2014 either."  

March 2, 2014

Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 2, 2014

The week started with a trip to the Prior Lake High School Girl's Basketball game.  We stayed for the first half and watched a rousing game of basketball.

Technically we were there for the pep band more than the game itself.  But the band was so inspirational it was hard not to root for the home team!  Avery is our favorite little tromboner.

And Luke is our little drummer boy.  It has to be difficult for him to keep the beat while staring straight up at his brother.

On Thursday night, we went to Nickelodeon Universe.  We tried to go on Sunday, but it was just too dang busy.  But Thursday night was just right.  

It makes us happy to have strangers take our picture while waiting in line at the log ride.

Sometimes the strangers even want to be part of the picture.  It's fun to make friends with strangers.

The highlight of the weekend was trying to convince the dog to get in the bath tub.  He loves to swim but for some reason isn't a really big fan of the bath tub.