June 27, 2014

Shortarmguy's Black Friday

In 2004, Miss Sheri and I woke up early on Black Friday to get one of the hot new portable DVD players that were all the rage. When we arrived, they were already sold out. The local news crew caught my reaction.

June 22, 2014

The Great Minnesota Flood of 2014

The Great Minnesota Flood of 2014
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 22, 2014

We're about ready to start building an ark in Minnesota.  A very rainy spring has led to an even rainier summer as Thursday alone we measured more than 4 inches of rain at our house.  Miss Sheri says it may be that she hadn't dumped the rain gauge in a few days, but I'm sticking with the fact that we had more than 4 inches in a day.  Prior Lake is higher than any of my neighbors have ever seen it and it's getting harder and harder to get to our boat.  Oh well.  I'm sure it will be sunny and dry soon enough so we can't complain about a little rain.

Luke and Avery stayed inside and out of the rain for most of the week helping out at a robotics summer camp for elementary school kids.  They spent 4 days building a robot and then the 11 teams competed in a tournament on Friday.

Avery filled a role where he helped all the teams, but Luke was a table leader by himself and helped 4 boys build a really competitive robot.  They did real good.

It feels like just yesterday when our boys were the little ones getting help from the high school students and now they're getting the opportunity to do the same for the younger kids.  Unfortunately I was at work and couldn't see them volunteering at the camp, but seeing the pictures made me real proud of them!

On Friday night, I had a great time inviting over some of my old friends from Nor-Tech for a game of poker.  I lost a bunch of money so we won't be doing that again for awhile.

On Saturday, we were invited up to a friend's cabin to spend the day in the sun and on the lake.  The lake was pretty deep there also.

We've known the Relling Family for many years.  Their son Carson is in the same grade as the boys and they've been in many activities together including Boy Scouts and Band.  This was the first time we've gone to their incredible cabin, but now that we've done it once we're hoping it becomes a regular occurrence!

Bob gave us a tour of Indian Lake which has also been hammered with rain this Spring.  Like most lakes in Minnesota, it's currently under No Wake restrictions.  Which is probably a good thing for us since Bob had a really crazy look in his eye the second he got behind the wheel of that boat!

We had fun all day doing different water related things like paddle boarding.  

Luke and Avery made the paddle board look pretty easy.

I on the other hand didn't handle the board too well.  I was able to stand on it, but the second I tried moving I was flipping into the water.  I think I need a more balanced belly to do well with this particular activity.

I did much better with the trampoline.  At least at first.  They dropped me off on it from the boat and I jumped around for awhile.  But when I jumped into the water and tried to climb the ladder back up to the raft, I found it just a wee bit challenging.  I gotta get into shape one of these years.

June 15, 2014

Kim and Mike Bailey's 25th Anniversary Celebration

Kim and Mike Bailey's 25th Anniversary Celebration
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 15, 2014

It was a pretty eventful weekend.  On Friday night, the boys went to a movie with some friends so I took Miss Sheri to Mystic Lake Casino to play some slot machines.  We were sitting close to the stage playing a game when suddenly an announcer case on to introduce a really cool DJ and the Mystic Dancers.  We enjoyed listening to their music and watching the ladies dance and played our game for awhile.  We were getting close to being finished and going home when the announcer said something that perked up my ears.  He said "Soon, we're going to invite up 7 people to be contestants in our dance competition!"   Since I can never pass up a challenge to go up on stage, I ran up to the guy to volunteer.  He said I was in and had me sign a waiver.  The next thing I know I'm mentally preparing myself to compete with 6 other people in a dance competition.  Here's what happened next:

On Saturday night, we had the honor of joining an incredible couple in celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.  Kim and Mike Bailey are an extremely generous and loving couple who have always been so nice to our family.  They had a ton of friends and family join them for the event and it was just an awesome time.  Congratulations, Kim and Mike!

Kim is of course the eldest sibling in the Hornbuckle Clan and also the best looking.  By a long shot!

Cher was in town for a concert and stopped by to wish the couple well and sing a few songs for the audience.  The lovely lady is aging quite gracefully.  Although she should probably dress just a little bit more modestly.  My wife told me to stop taking her picture after only 15-20 shots.  It's not my fault it was taking so long to get just the right angle!

The party lasted well into the evening.  By the time we left, we were all a little bit sore from so much boogieing.  But it was well worth it.

On Sunday, I went to church with my favorite sons to celebrate Father's Day.  I was still stinging a bit from a Friday night Facebook post where people told me a shirt I was wearing looked like an old man shirt.  So for church, I decided to wear my favorite yellow shirt which I thought showed a lot of flair.  Then at church, I met a man in his eighties who was wearing almost the exact same shirt as me.  I guess I really do need to re-think my wardrobe.  Either that or sign up for an AARP card and just resign myself to the fact that I'm an old man.

We bought a new basketball hoop this week because we broke the old one.  This one is fun because we can easily change the height on it from 6 to 10 feet.  Sadly, I still can't dunk it at 6 feet.  Although I'm told it's fun to watch me try.

We only went out on the boat one time this week because we've had so much rain lately, Prior Lake is under No Wake restrictions.  Meaning you can't go over a few miles per hour which bores the tears out of my sons.  And is still a little bit too wild for Grandma Linda's tastes.

Our bird friends are still all over the island in Mud Bay.  Their babies appear to be getting bigger as mama looked to be feeding them.  Either that or they're just all gathered around in the nest playing poker or something.

Sunny doesn't care that Prior Lake is under No Wake restrictions.  He's gonna jump in it anyways!

A Father's Day Tribute To My Father

I miss my dad.  He passed away almost 6 years ago after a battle with leukemia.  He was a pretty cool guy.

If you never had the chance to meet him, here's a glimpse of what he was like.  This is a video I made for him for his birthday many years ago and it shows his personality pretty well.

Here's a link to the tribute I created for my dad when he died:

My sisters and I all came up with some of our favorite memories of our dad at his funeral.  This was mine:

My favorite memory of dad is when he gave me my self confidence. I remember when I was very little, dad used to call me Four Fingers. Now many people might think that sounds cruel, but I think he did it to prepare me for a cruel world. He also used to make me tell people stories about why my arms were different and also to make jokes about them. I think he knew it was an issue I'd always have to address with people and he didn't want me to be ashamed of that which made me unique. As I grew older, he told me I could be anything I wanted to be as long as I worked hard at it. He helped me learn how to build my self confidence which has helped me create a life I am quite proud of today.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I love you!

June 8, 2014

2014 Graduation Parties

2014 Graduation Parties
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 8, 2014

On Monday night, we had our last Boy Scout meeting before the summer.  We were so proud of Luke and Avery as they were awarded the rank of Life Scout and are now going to be working on becoming Eagle Scouts in the next year or so.  Unbelievable!

On Wednesday night, I was on another airplane heading out for a business trip.  I'm always surprised how often I end up flying directly over the top of my house.

I did a connecting flight through Phoenix on my way to Irvine, California.  The weather was beautiful in California, but 104 degrees in Phoenix when I switched planes.  Glad I wasn't staying there for long because I'm not real fond of the Heat.  

I was in Southern California to meet with a company I've never met with before.  Amazon.com.

This was my walk from the car to the building.  We need Palm Trees in Minnesota.  They're just kind of pleasant to be around.

I've been selling computers and servers for more than 20 years now, but the cloud is a real threat to the traditional business model for computer sales.  Which is why I was here.  According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Amazon Web Services currently maintains an 83% market share in Cloud Infrastructure as a Service.  They told me while I was there that Amazon is adding enough data center space every single day to run the entire Amazon.com website which is a $7 billion operation.  And their web services division is adding that much capacity EVERY SINGLE DAY.  If you want to make money in computers going forward, it's probably a good idea to learn how to take advantage of their offerings.  According to their sales people, customers are screaming for help on how to do it.  I'd like to be one of the people to figure out how to take advantage of that.

It was quick trip and I was on a plane heading home on Friday.  I just love flying over mountains.

When I came home, Luke was excited to show me what he found.  We're dog sitting for a friend and on Wednesday night the dog was sleeping in Luke's bed with him.  Around midnight, Luke rolled over and started petting him when he suddenly felt an odd bump.  It turned out to be a tick.  But it was about 10 times bigger than any tick we'd ever seen before.  We read that it was most likely stuck to the dog undiscovered for four or five days.

That's an awful lot of dog blood.  (My wife really didn't want me to publish this photo.  For those of you who think it's too gross, I want to let you know we simulated the blood that would have been found in the tick by pouring Hershey's Chocolate Syrup in the bag.  For those of you who find this kind of thing cool, I want you to know it's absolutely real.) 

On Saturday, we got to visit a lot of friends going to 4 different graduation parties.  The first one we visited was for Dana Bunker.

   Our next party was for the rock star, Andy Bollig.

We had a lot of fun at this party visiting old buddies from Nor-Tech.  And Nick Rahman.

Our next party was for Angelina Dao.  We had a great time seeing her and her family.

Our final party of the day was for our robotics buddy, Claudia Dube.  She has been an inspiration for our boys the last couple of years in robotics so we were honored to attend her party.  By the end of the day, we were pretty tuckered out from all those graduation parties.  Best of luck to all 2014 graduates!  We hope you are able to go after and achieve all your dreams!! 

PCIe Flash Storage Consolidates: Seagate Buys Avago Tech, Violin Sells To SK Hynix

Connecting flash storage via the PCIe bus is a great way to increase storage performance compared to SSDs, which require RAID controllers, said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder. 

 However, Swank said, while PCIe storage is still a niche product, it's one that is maturing. 

"SATA and SAS are currently the mainstream way for connecting SSDs and flash storage," Swank told CRN. "And for the highest performance, there's the new ULLtraDIMM technology from SanDisk, which is the creme de la creme."

Read Full Article:

June 7, 2014

Luke and Avery's Robotics Team Featured By National Georgraphic

Luke and Avery were very fortunate to be part of the Prior Lake High School Robotics Team, KING TeC FRC Team #2169.  They are a World Class robotics team and were recently featured on the National Geographic channel.

Here's a screenshot from the video of Luke Standing Large with his Team Mates!

"Robots Battle Robots in World Championship"

  Published on May 29, 2014

Each spring, high school science students from around the world gather for the FIRST Robotics Competition. Started in 1989 by Dean Kamen, who's best known for inventing the Segway scooter, the competition was held this year in St. Louis—blending science, engineering, technology, and sports for an experience that not only helps build minds but can even change kids' lives.

June 1, 2014

On the Water. Summer 2014 Begins.

On the Water.  Summer 2014 Begins.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for June 1, 2014

On Monday, we woke up early to go watch the Prior Lake Memorial Day Parade.  The city does a nice job at paying homage to the fallen warriors that have given us all the ability to have our freedom and go see nice parades on a Monday morning.

Our boys were in the high school marching band this year rather than marching with the Boy Scouts like they've done in year's past.  Luke's mom created a new pair of cymbals for him to use which made him quite happy.  Now he's clanging with the best of them.

This was Avery's last performance in band.  He wants to take additional engineering classes next year and something has to give in his schedule.  His mom and I are really sad about it.  Mainly because we won't get to call him a tromboner any more.

On Friday night, I made my regular stop at Mystic Lake Casino.  This time I couldn't find a parking space because they were hosting a motorcycle rally called Northern Thunder.  I stopped by for a few minutes and watched FireHouse open up their show and snapped a picture of the lead singer flexing for me.  It was pretty inspiring.

I also had a chance to see Eric Estrada up close which was nice.  I miss Chips.

On Saturday morning the boys had some friends over to go tubing.

It's always fun to catch the expressions of the children as we race to try to flip them off the tube into the cold water.

We met Dan and Jen at Candy Cove to swap some children and watch them catch a fish.  Not necessarily in that order.

On Saturday night, we went to see Karl's new boat.  He still has his old boat but isn't riding that one around much any more.  We figure eventually he'll use that one to pull around the kids with his new boat.

Inside of the boat is pretty cool.  It can sleep something like 60 people, but you have to stack them just right.

Most of the time we're with the Zitzewitzes, they take turns looking at us and exclaiming "I'm the Captain now."  Then they giggle over and over again for several minutes.  It gets to be a little creepy after awhile. 

Not only did they get a new big boat, but they got a new little boat as well.  Aaron and Avery loved having the opportunity to use it to get away from their parents as quickly as they possibly could.

We've had a lot of rain this spring, so it gives us a neat opportunity to kayak through the trees.  Which sounds like a lot of fun until you get a root bumping into your butt.  Then you have to scootch back and forth to try to loosen yourself back into the water.  I now refer to myself as a Root Scootcher.

Saturday night brought a lot of rain, but that didn't slow us down.  We just paddled faster when the rain came.  Well, some of us paddled faster.  Others of us just pretended to paddle faster and let our boat mates do the work.  Sorry, Karl, but thanks for the ride!

Luke said "Screw it" and didn't even pretend to paddle like his father did.  He just rode his mother's back and yelled "Yah" every time he wanted her to go faster.

I remember when I was a kid and I'd dream about being able to see a Bald Eagle in the wild.  They were pretty rare in those days.  Not so much any more as we saw at least 3 or 4 of them on this trip.  We've yet to be able to catch one of them, though.