February 28, 2016

Taste of an Early Spring in Minnesota

Taste of an Early Spring in Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 28, 2016

Baby Blue celebrated his first birthday this week.  He was pretty excited about it also since he so rarely gets to wear any kinds of hats.  Sunny was pretty happy also because even though he's now 11 years old, he still got to have a cupcake in celebration of this festive day.

Saturday brought us a peek of Spring in Minnesota.  Such a rare thing to happen in the month of February, but the thermometer said it was 58 degrees outside and we saw some areas of open water nearby.  These trumpeter swans seemed pretty frisky so I'm guessing it's going to be an early season for egg laying as well.

It seemed like a beautiful day to take the dogs to the dog park.  Miss Sheri warned me it would be pretty muddy, but I told her it had been dry for a week so it should be fine.  Of course, she was right as usual...

There was mud and standing water all over the place.  The dogs ended up covered from head to toe, but they sure didn't seem to mind getting dirty. 

They were jumping for joy!

Even Sunny was stretching out his old bones and jumped over the creek a few times.  It's kind of sad that he's no longer able to beat the young dogs and rarely comes back with the toy, but he sure enjoys the chase.

On Saturday night, we went to the PorterHouse in Lakeville for the first time and were quite pleased with our steaks.

Of course, it was also a bunch of fun getting together with our old friends, Jeff and Cathy.  We had a nice evening of laughs and stories and just all in all a good ole time.

Todd Swank - Dare To Be Different

In 2016, I joined Toastmasters. This was my first speech called the Ice Breaker speech. It's intended to introduce me to public speaking and to my new Toastmaster's Club at Oracle Direct. In the speech, I explain the reason why I started doing stand-up comedy as well as why I started my website, Shortarmguy.com.

February 21, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

Valentine's Day 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 21, 2016

Valentine's Day came and went again this year and with it another year of being married for Todd and Miss Sheri.  This time it was our 22 year anniversary that we were celebrating.  Technically we were married on February 12, but by celebrating our anniversary and Valentine's Day together, it makes things much more romantic.  At least that's what I've convinced to my wife.

We invited both of our mothers over to celebrate our anniversary because, really, what could be more romantic than having a home cooked meal with our mothers.

Since we won't get to spend Grandma Leona's birthday with her, Miss Sheri surprised her with a cake so we could celebrate it early.  She had no clue about the surprise which became pretty evident when we pulled out the cake and started singing "Happy Birthday" and she started singing it with us!

Cousin Karli was excited to come to the Twin Cities because she had the chance to see one of her idols, a guy who goes by the name of Issa.  He's a famous YouTuber who has a channel called Twaimz which gets millions of views.  He travels around the country and visits his fans who love his videos.  I swear I missed my calling in this world.  

On Saturday night, we went to Outback.  Because that's what we like to do.

Luke had his 6 month check-up for his Pacemaker and with the cardiologist this week.  All seems to be going great which definitely makes us happy!

This Saturday, we headed to downtown Minneapolis to watch a Timberwolves game and stopped by Cowboy Jack's for some Happy Hour appetizers.  They were pretty darn good, too.

It was Ricky Rubio's Bobblehead giveaway night, so we had to show up at the game to get our little ceramic statues.  We just love Ricky.

We also love Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves #1 draft pick and a leading candidate for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.  Karl made history last week at the NBA All Star weekend when he won the Skills competition.  It was the first time they allowed the "Big" guys in the competition like Karl.  In previous years, the event was only for guards so it was a big deal that Karl came in and dominated.

But the main reason we love Karl so much is that his dad sits directly in the seat behind us during games.  And he is FUN to listen to throughout the entire game.  First of all, he's a very nice man and is always willing to talk to us about his son.  He's very proud of him as he should be and loved telling us the story of the Skills competition.  After the games start, though, we don't bother him because he's very intensely watching and shouting out instructions to his son.  This week we heard him deliver classic lines like "He's going to be doing some push-ups tonight" after his son missed a free throw.  He also was quite upset with Karl after he received his second foul early in the game.  He paused for quite awhile and then finally signed and exclaimed "He just doesn't listen to me!"  It's just so interesting to hear and we find ourselves quoting him often in the Swank Household.  As a matter of fact, "Come on, Karl!" is probably our most commonly chanted quote we have in 2016!

The halftime show was interesting.  Some hand balancing guy from America's Got Talent along with his dog.  God definitely didn't make me to do this kind of work.

Our opponents for the evening were Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.  They also have a rookie superstar named Kristaps Porzingis who was fun to watch.  He also got into foul trouble early so I'm sure somewhere in Latvia his dad was pretty pissed off as well.

It ended up being a pretty ugly game for the Wolves.  They lost 103-95, but they trailed most of the game by a higher margin than that.  It wasn't due to a lack of effort from Karl, though.  He ended up with 24 points and 8 boards.  I hope his dad didn't make him do too many push-ups.

Kevin Garnett hasn't been playing for us the past couple of weeks.  Something about an injury to his leg.  He did look pretty good in his suit, though.

February 15, 2016

Video: Worlds Toughest Rodeo 2016 in St. Paul, Minnesota

The Swank Family attended the World's Toughest Rodeo at Excel Energy Center n St. Paul, Minnesota on February 6, 2016.  Horse riding, bull riding, and rope spinning were on the agenda for the evening.  

February 14, 2016

World's Toughest Rodeo in St. Paul, Minnesota

World's Toughest Rodeo in St. Paul, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Update for February 14, 2015

We connected with our good friends, The Browns and The Zitzewitzes, for a Saturday night full of Mongolian Food and the World's Toughest Rodeo.  I'd like to say this ain't our first rodeo, but technically it was our first rodeo for all of us.

We had to walk through the St. Paul Winter Carnival to get to the Excel Center and there was a parade in progress.  This wasn't our first parade.  We've been to plenty of those before.

We came to the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota to watch the World's Toughest Rodeo.  We saw quite a few cowboy hats in the audience and on the floor of the event.  I think there were even some cowboy boots, but it was hard to tell from the upper deck.

We didn't really know what to expect, but we were pretty confident we'd see dudes riding horses and bulls and maybe some bullfighting.  We were wrong about that last part as it didn't appear that any of the participants were willing to actually challenge the bull to fight.  For the most part, they tried to run away from them.

They told us we could tweet to them and get on the big screen which I did.  I just love seeing my name on the big screen.  Come on, Karl!!

Before we knew it, they started the floor on fire and we were ready to go.  I've never really been to a show where they set the floor on fire before and all I could think of was that was gonna be pretty hot for the poor horses' feet.

The clown was kind of funny.  I guess I kind of expected that since he was a clown.  Be kind of sad if he wasn't funny.

He also was pretty good with a rope.  I'm pretty sure this wasn't his first rodeo.

Most of the show consisted of these guys letting horses and bulls out of the cage and then they'd go nuts trying to buck off the rider on top of them.  We soon discovered the reason they were going nuts was because they had a rope tied around their bellies and it probably was squeezing their crown jewels pretty tight.  I'd buck someone off my back also if they did that to me!

The cowboys could stay on the horses for awhile, but none of them fared very well against the bulls.  It was interesting to see how high in the air they could flip them.

The most controversial event of the evening involved Whiplash the monkey riding around on a sheepdog to herd up some big sheep.  They kept telling audience that the monkey had been doing this performance for 25 years and absolutely loved doing it.

I'm not sure I believe he loved it.  When the dog started running, the monkey bounced back and forth on his back and flipped from side to side really hard.  The dog sure looked like he loved chasing those sheep, but I have to think the monkey might have had some second thoughts about doing this at some point in the past 25 years.  He probably said he loved it at first, but I'm guessing they just haven't asked him lately if he's still loving it.  They probably don't even have anyone on their staff that really even speaks monkey.


February 7, 2016

The Price is Right at Mystic Lake Casino

The Price is Right at Mystic Lake Casino
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 7, 2016

My old co-worker, Nicole, had an extra ticket for the Price is Right at Mystic Lake Casino and asked me if I'd like to go with her along with her and her brother and sister-in-law.  I said "Sure."  So on Friday night, we showed up 3 hours early to hopefully get the chance to have our names called to "Come on Down!"

Turns out, we weren't the only ones who wanted the chance to go on stage.  We ended up being among more than 2000 people in the audience and only 30 or so people had a chance to win prizes.  Still probably better odds than actually winning money at the casino.

We had plenty of time to kill before the show started since we showed up so early and claimed seats in the front row.  I made a new friend named Sheena who is a bar manager at a nice place in Hudson.  She didn't get on stage either, but we both had fun rooting on those who did.

This guy kicked off the show and played the Johnny Olson role of calling people to "Come On Down!"  I really would like to figure out where he buys his suits.

This nice lady did all the hard work during the games including flipping signs and moving the prizes around the stage.  I think she should have received more credit for being the true star of the show.

But this is the guy who was billed as the star of the show.  His name is Todd Newton and he is the actual host of Whammy on the Game Show network.  He was pretty funny and a good host, even if he didn't call me on stage to win anything.

The audience was totally into it.  It was fun watching people freak out and run down to the stage after their name was called.

They had a bunch of the games from the TV show, although the prizes weren't quite as lucrative.  This lady won $500.00 for punching her hand through some paper circles.

This lady was pregnant and won an espresso set.  Not sure if that will be good for the baby or not, but it's probably worth a shot.

This guy didn't have much luck with Cliffhanger sending the little dude plunging to his death rather than winning anything.

The big wheel looked like the same one on the show, although you didn't win $1000.00 on the first spin.  You had to hit it twice to win the big prize which kind of screwed this guy:

This guy was called out for being in a relationship for 5 years without being married.  The host called his girlfriend on stage who then revealed they have 6 kids living with them as well.  I'm sure she was pretty happy when he putted the ball into the hole and won them a brand new washer and dryer.  That's much better than a wedding ring at this point anyways.

Plinko appears to be the most popular game so they saved it for the end.  This guy did pretty good hitting the $500.00 slot on his first plink and won a few hundred more after that.

The showcase showdown is pretty much the same as on the TV show, although it's harder to win the car.  The bicycle and a trip to Las Vegas went to the winner who was closest to the total value without going over.  But she had to be within $100.00 to win the car and other prizes.  She wasn't unfortunately for her, but it looked like she got a nice bicycle.  

All in all, it was a pretty neat show.  Would I go again?  I doubt it. But it was fun to see once.