March 27, 2016

2016 Easter at the Farm

2016 Easter at the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 27, 2016

We thought when the ice went out a couple of weeks ago that meant that winter was over.  Then on Wednesday night we had 10 inches of snow dumped on our heads.  What's up with that?

On Saturday, we shoved the boys and the dogs in the back seat and drove to the farm for Easter.

There's a lot of windmills in Minnesota and Iowa any more.  Trains also.

Miss Sheri's mom and brother were excited to see us and we were excited to see them.  

The dogs were excited for some farm freedom so they could run wild and eat gross stuff they found in the yards.

Easter morning came and we were excited to have the chance to spend the day with Grandma Leona.

We headed over to Uncle Jerry's and Aunt Laura's for an Easter Feast.  We like to call it Feaster.

 I was excited because I didn't have to sit at the kid's table this year.  

We had a great time celebrating the holiday with good friends and family.  Happy Easter to all!!

March 20, 2016

2016 FRC Regional Robotics Tournament in Peoria, Illinois with KING TeC

2016 FRC Regional Robotics Tournament in Peoria, Illinois with KING TeC
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 20, 2016

The boys took a trip to Peoria, Illinois on Wednesday so Miss Sheri and I had a chance to go on a date.  Which is nice.

On Thursday night, we drove the 7 hours to Peoria to join them and Prior Lake High School's FRC Robotics team #2169 KING TeC.  We arrived just in time to watch the chairman's committee demonstrate their presentation they would be delivering to the judges.  They said they hadn't practiced together in a couple of weeks, but I'm guessing they were teasing about that because their performance to us was flawless!

Friday morning, we met up with our good friend, Nancy Wangness, who was one of the chaperons for the event.  We drove to Bradley University where the tournament was being held.  It was a perfect arena for an event like this.

There wasn't a bad seat in the place.  The field was on the arena floor and could be seen from anywhere in the building.

This was our first chance to see this year's robot in action.  They went with a brand new drive train system this year which gave their robot a lot of power.  Once they figured out the correct way to program it, the robot became a crowd pleaser because it's powerful acceleration sent it flying over the ramps much like the Dukes of Hazards car!  KING TeC became known throughout the tournament as having the "Robot That Flies!"

This year, Avery was on the programming team while Luke helped out with the chairman's committee.  They also really like wearing crowns and capes.

This was Mike Lins first tournament as head coach of the team.  He did a good jump at pumping everyone up to perform at their best.

We had a great time hanging out with the other parents although it was a bit embarrassing to discover that somehow we all ended up wearing the same shirts.

The team has a whole bunch of phenomenal role models with a bunch of hard working coaches, mentors, chaperons and parents.

The team is full of great kids also who each hold different roles in the organization from building, designing, programming, and driving the robot to supporting the team in the stands with scouting and cheering to a wide variety of outreach events the team does throughout the year to promote STEM and spreading the message and ideals of FIRST Robotics.  It's an incredible program.

Luke and Avery have been in robotics with Jackson since they started back in 7th grade.  They still have bunches of fun together.

Peoria was host to 40 different teams from 7 different states.  The pits are full of frenzied activity throughout the weekend as each team prepares for their matches.  

Robotics is a great family activity and we highly recommend it!

The team had a solid performance at this tournament.  They ended up ranked 12th after the qualifying rounds and were selected to participate in the finals by the 7th seeded team.  They ended up being eliminated in the first round by the second seeded team 2 matches to 1.

That's definitely worth a selfie.

The team was also bestowed with the 2016 Entrepreneurship award for having the most impressive business plan showcasing the team's outreach and action plan.  We're real proud of all the kids!

Here's the highlight video of Prior Lake High School FRC Robotics team KING TeC #2169 at the Peoria, Illinois Regional Robotics Tournament.

Oracle Q416 Kickoff Party at Mall of America

Oracle Q416 Kickoff Party at Mall of America
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 20, 2016

On Thursday morning, I was able to go to work a little bit later than usual.  We were having our Q4, 2016 kickoff party for Oracle Direct Minneapolis salespeople at the Mall of America.  These were the catwalks we had to navigate to get to the event.

My co-workers and I were excited to get inspired to sell more enterprise cloud applications to finish the year strong.

We had a special guest there to help kick off the festivities and awards ceremony.  That Iron Man sure is motivational!

It was a really fun event and I had the chance to socialize with some great people.  We had tournaments in bowling, air hockey, and basketball.  I sucked at all of them.

Worst of all, they had a Karaoke set-up and I have a nasty habit of grabbing the microphone and pretending that I can sing.  Loud.  One of these days I gotta stop doing that.

March 13, 2016

Prior Lake Savage School Board Meeting

Prior Lake Savage School Board Meeting
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 13, 2016

On Monday night, Miss Sheri and I attended our first school board meeting.  It was a big event for our community as the board was discussing whether or not they would be bringing a $129 million referendum for a vote to the city.

There was a big crowd in attendance for the event.  We recognized a lot of teachers, coaches, and activity leaders in attendance with us.  It's really interesting watching the process of how a referendum is created, modified, supported, debated, and ultimately voted upon.  A lot of people wanted to see how things were going to be decided.  Ultimately the school board approved the plan for the $129 million referendum and now it will go to the city to be voted on in May.

We were pleasantly surprised to see Luke and Avery's elementary school principal, Tim Bell, getting recognized for being one of three finalists for the state of Minnesota's Distinguished Principal award.  He was always a good guy to us so it was nice to see him getting this kind of an honor.  Good luck, Mr. Bell!

It was fun to watch the process of a school board meeting with our friends from Prior Lake Robotics.  Our interest is in getting a larger dedicated space for the robotics team should this referendum be passed by the community.  We also like going places and all wearing the same shirts.

On Tuesday night, we went to Luke's band performance to watch him pound on things.

This time they even let him use a hammer to get his job done.  I don't know about you, but I don't think we use enough hammers while making music in this society.  We need more of that.

On Friday night, our friends the Browns and Zitzewitzes came over to eat a feast and take a bath with one another.  Not at the same time, though.

On Saturday, we went to see the movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane.  I don't want to spoil any of the plot because things have been kept pretty secret, but it was a thrill ride of intense scenes.  We were all pretty happy with it.  One Big Thumb Up from me.

On Sunday, grandma Linda came over to pet the dogs.  They like that.

Next up for the Swank family is watching a series of robot tournaments for Prior Lake Robotics who will start competing in FRC events in Peoria and Minneapolis with hopes to advance to the state and world tournaments.  Let's go, KING TeC!

March 6, 2016

Minnesota Republican Caucus 2016

Minnesota Republican Caucus 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 6, 2016

It was Super Tuesday in Minnesota and the polls opened at 7PM.  Miss Sheri and I had never been to a caucus before, but since this year's election is so colorful, we thought it would be fun to go and check out all the excitement.  Our precinct met at Twin Oaks Middle School.

I don't think I'd ever seen the Minnesota GOP referred to as the Growth & Opportunity Party before, but I really liked it.  I love all kinds of Opportunities!  And I have a few Growths that I really probably should have looked at by a professional.

We weren't quite sure how things worked, so we went to our precinct and took a seat.  It appeared that the organizers weren't expecting the kinds of crowds that were showing up because the rules had to be changed a few times before we even started to accommodate all the people.

Before the meeting began, we had a visit from Tony Albright who is a member of the US House of Representatives.  He seemed like a nice guy.  It ended up being 7:30 by the time he finished and the votes had to be tallied by 8PM so the guy running the show just told everyone to vote on a ballot they handed out and that was that.  We were a little disappointed because we thought there were going to be discussions about candidates first with people arguing over who they thought everyone should vote.  The way the debates have been going, we kind of expected things to even get a little bit physical, but none of that kind of stuff occurred.  So we went home.

Slowly but surely, the ice is starting to disappear and more and more birds are making their way back to Minnesota.  I like birds.

On Saturday night, we went to Shogun Hibachi in Burnsville to try some meat and rice.  MMMMMmmm.  Meat and rice.

The place is a lot like Benihana except the cooking guy throws broccoli at the guests and squirts large streams of sake in people's mouths.   Other than that, it's pretty similar.

On Sunday, we took Grandma bowling.  Grandmas like to bowl.