January 31, 2016

College Tour at University of Wisconsin Madison

College Tour at University of Wisconsin Madison
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 31, 2016

Monday night, Luke had a band concert.  It made us all happy.

Tuesday night I went to our Fantasy Football League Awards Dinner.  I didn't win crap again this year, but enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow team owners.  Next year, that big football trophy is mine!

Wednesday night I connected with a couple of my old co-workers from Equus.  Judging from this picture, Brian was having a good time seeing me, but I'm not quite as sure if Tom was.

On Thursday night, Sheri and the boys and I drove 5 hours to the capital of Wisconsin.  Madison is the home of the University of Wisconsin and is very high on Avery's wish list of colleges he'd like to attend.

We woke up bright and early on Friday morning to go to the campus for a day full of different tours and informational seminars.

I had really high hopes for the place when I saw that Zach Galifianakis was hosting our first session.  Turns out I was mistaken.  He wasn't Zach, but rather a nice man in charge of helping students get into their Honors program.  I discovered that after he gave me a strange look when I asked him how filming was going on Hangover 4.

Our next stop was a 3 hour tour of the campus.  We were excited when we showed up to the event and saw that some of our friends from Prior Lake, Guy & Keenan Perera, were also going on the tour at the same time.  It was fun spending the day with them.

We sat through an informational session and then they split us into groups for the tour.  I was so glad I brought my red coat with me because I thought it would help me to fit in and be one of the gang.

 The kids all introduced themselves to the group and we were on our way to go check out the campus.

Guy and Miss Sheri were raring to go!

I was a little nervous when we walked by this skull.  I never realized there used to be giants in Wisconsin.  I hope the rest of them are just as dead as this guy because I wouldn't want to stumble across any of them.

The campus was very unique.  I have never been at a college this close to a state capital before.  I usually appreciate a much greater separation between my education and my government, but here it's just unavoidable.

At least there's a big clock at this school.  It's so much nicer to be able to stare at a building to see what time it is then to have to reach into your pocket and grab your phone.

This big building is called Bascom Hall and was built in 1880.  For some reason, they located it at the top of a very tall hill which we had to climb to get here.  I was so winded I didn't hear what the guides said for pretty much the rest of the day.  I gotta get in shape.

Our tour guides were great kids and did a very nice job of representing their school.  Avery really wants to go to school here now.

The next part of our tour was through the college of engineering.  They told us they have all sorts of cool tools on site like a nuclear reactor and a million pound test machine.  I suddenly had a bunch of new ideas for some viral videos I could make if I went there.

The students have access to a large fabrication lab with tools of all shapes and sizes to work on their projects.  I didn't see a lot of adult supervision around there so those students must be much better behaved than I would have been when I was their age.

Our day ended with a personalized tour with an old friend from Prior Lake, Ryan Glaser, who goes to school here currently.  Ryan gave us a behind the scenes tour of the dorms and what life is like there.  Quite honestly, I was very inspired and impressed with this place and asked Avery if I could go there with him if he gets accepted.  I'm not sure if he's too interested in that idea.

Our puppies were pretty frustrated being home alone while we traveled to Wisconsin, so we took them running on the frozen lake on Saturday.   That seemed to make them happy.

Here's a video that Google Photos put together for me after I backed-up my photos.  I kind of like it.

January 30, 2016

Why you should use Google Photos to back up all your pictures today.

I have nearly 100,000 photos of my family.  I have been keeping them on hard drives for years and rarely ever find the time to go back and look at them.  Recently, I made the decision to back them all up to Google Photos.

I am so impressed with what this did for my photo collection.

Google Photos is free and you  can back-up an unlimited amount of photos with it.

It gives you incredible new search & facial recognition capabilities that you probably don't have today.

And every now and then, it magically makes videos like this for you.

Today, Google Photos made this video for me all on it's own:

January 24, 2016

2016 Minneapolis Boat Show

2016 Minneapolis Boat Show
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 24, 2016

Our smoke detectors started to go bad on us this week and alarms started going off in the middle of the night.  So Miss Sheri replaced them.  My co-workers think it's odd that my wife does so many repairs around the house like this for us.  They don't seem to understand that if I tried to do stuff like this myself I'd end up electrocuting the entire neighborhood.

Miss Sheri walked upstairs the other day to see where the dogs were hiding.  She was surprised to find them on Avery's bed together.  I guess they really are starting to get along.

On Saturday night, we went to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Memphis Grizzlies.  It was our 4th game going to see them this year, but our first time actually watching them win a game.  It made us happy.

Karl Anthony Towns seemed pretty happy about it also.

I met this guy at half time.  His shirt said his name was Big T.  I wanted to tell him that I was actually Big T, but he didn't seem to be in the mood to hear a story like that.

As usual, we slow walked our way along the court as we went back to our seats.

Apple Valley native and current Wolves point guard, Tyus Jones, seemed to want me to stop and take a picture with him before I went back to my seat, so I was happy to oblige.

On Sunday, we went to the Minneapolis Boat Show at the convention center.  It's a good way to get our heads out of the winter cold and remind us that Spring and boating are right around the corner.

We went with our friends the Zitzewitz Family mainly because they're willing to pose for pictures with us.

My favorite thing I saw at the show this year were these diving boards you can mount on the back of your boat.  I gotta get one because I could totally jump in the air with one of these.

We were pretty happy that Flo put on such a great Boat Show this year.  

January 17, 2016

Guy's Weekend in January 2016

Guy's Weekend in January 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 17, 2016

Three of my Iowa buddies came up for the weekend.  In college, Ron "Sugarman" Myers and I used to watch the movie Tombstone over and over again together.  He now has a great t-shirt to commemorate our memories.

Joel is as goofy as a 2 dollar bill. I was glad he brought a couple of those.  We played poker together and he gave me the opportunity to win all his twos away from him.

Kray Kory didn't do very well in poker which probably isn't all that surprising.  He pretty much sits like this the entire time we play together.  He claims it's his poker face.

We woke up early to go skiing, but first decided to stop at a new restaurant in Prior Lake called Charlie's on Prior.  They have great food and a beautifully re-designed facility that sits on Prior Lake.

We had fun reminiscing and planning our day skiing.  We probably shouldn't have looked at the weather map though because we saw that it was about 15 below zero and wind chills were going to take it down to feeling like it was 30-40 below zero.  So we decided to not go skiing and just hang out at our hotel room all day instead.  We're getting too old to deal with temperatures like those!

After a day of staying warm inside playing more poker, we decided to go to the Mall of America for supper and to check out the night life.

They've opened some new areas in the mall so I was excited to see those.  I was a bit surprised when I saw this new corridor and how relatively blank it is.  It kind of reminded me of some kind of medical facility because it was all white and there were no stores or anything.  I'm guessing those will come later, otherwise this looks like an awful lot of wasted space.

The fellas wanted to eat at Hooters which I was fine with because I really love their chicken tenders.  Yeah, that's why.

We ended the night at Dick's Last Resort which is famous for having waiters and waitresses who insult the customers.  It's my kind of place.

I heard these guys being rude to other people, but found them to be pretty nice to me.  Maybe they thought I worked there or something.  I'm still not sure why they had bras hanging from the ceiling, but I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason.

January 10, 2016

The Dog Days of Winter

The Dog Days of Winter
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 10, 2016

It's been a pretty mellow week in Prior Lake.  The highlight for us was when our neighbor's dogs got loose and we had to bring them in to our house for a few hours until they got home.

The two dogs are actually the mother and brother of our dog, Blue.  We always think it's interesting when these dogs get back together and wonder if the mom is like angry at us for stealing her son away from her.  She doesn't seem to hold any bitterness, but you can never be too sure.

Blue and his brother definitely have the same attitude when it comes to their toys.  They both like to show each other that they have a toy in their mouth, but neither is very willing to share it.

Sunny is very untrusting of new dogs in our house since he still isn't too fond of Blue who likes to attack him on a regular basis. We notice he's a lot more aggressive with the others than he used to be before we adopted Blue.  We like to think he's saying "There's no way in Hell you're coming to live here!"

I guess I can't really blame him.  Blue isn't always very nice to him.

Miss Sheri had to go to St. Paul to run some errands on Thursday so she stopped by the St. Paul Cathedral while she was there to pray for our souls.  Which was nice.

On Friday night, I repaid her the favor by taking her to the casino.  She's not a huge fan of going there and watching me make my "Investments" for the week.  She likes to call it gambling, but I just don't think she knows how good I am at it.  In a couple more years that ROI is gonna finally start rolling in for us!

On Saturday, the boys joined their high school robotics team-mates to go to Mankato and learn about the new FIRST Robotics challenge, FIRST Stronghold.  Here's a peek:

FIRST Stronghold Game Reveal

The game looks pretty challenging, but the team has a pretty good system for strategizing the game.  We are so excited to see what kind of robot they develop this year.