March 27, 2018

Advance Screening of Ready Player One

Advance Screening of Ready Player One
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 27, 2018

We had the opportunity to see an Advance Screening of Ready Player One last night.  It's a roller-coaster ride of a movie  filled with Spielberg Magic.  It takes place in a dystopian future where society's only escape is through a Virtual Reality World called the Oasis.  I read the book and loved it.  I was very happy with how it translated to the screen.  The eighties nostalgia is great, but not as overwhelming as it was in the book.  In it's place is an incredible glimpse of our potential future with VR.  Technology like this will revolutionize our lives some day in ways we can't even imagine.

 Avery and his girlfrend, Emma, were able to join us for the show.  It was way more packed than most Advance Screenings we've attended so I think this movie will have a HUGE opening weekend.

Best of all, a couple of professors doing Virtual Reality research at the University of Minnesota were there for a speaker panel afterwards.  Avery was able to introduce himself as a student currently attending the U's college of science & engineering with a background in programming VR apps in Unity on our HTC Vive at home.  Fingers crossed that he might be able  to get involved in some research projects over there.  I think that would be so cool.  Because then I'm going to sneak into their lab for some high tech demos!!

READY PLAYER ONE - Official Trailer 1


March 25, 2018

A Blizzard Down on the Farm

A Blizzard Down on the Farm
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 25, 2018

Miss Sheri and I drove down to the farm this weekend to see her family.  Along the way, we passed through Mankato so we had to stop and take Luke out for dinner at Noodles and Company.  It's always good to see the kid.

We were a bit nervous driving down because there was a big blizzard on the way.  Lucky for us, it was mostly rain while we were driving and didn't turn into snow until after we arrived.  Other parts of Iowa had as much as 18 inches of snow, but Grandma only had a few.

Suddenly, something caught Blue's attention.

It was Uncle Jerry to the rescue!  He brought down his tractor to help clear off the snow.

Miss Sheri thought I was silly for shooting this video of the tractor shoveling, but I thought it was interesting.  Until Blue almost ran in front of the massive machine.  Big Dummy Dog.

Boys and their toys make shoveling snow a bunch of fun.

Soon Miss Sheri and Grandma Leona made an appearance to help out Uncle Jerry.

They spent most of their time arguing about who should be doing the shoveling and who should be doing the watching.  I know better than to get between them on this kind of thing so I just stand off to the side taking pictures.

She may be 87 years old, but that ain't gonna slow her down from getting her driveway cleared!

Uncle Jerry after a job well done.

We all celebrated the driveway being cleared with a good old fashioned farm meal of meat and potatoes.  Yummy stuff.

The next day was sunny and 38 degrees so hopefully we can start melting the white stuff out of here again.  I'm getting really tired of winter.  

March 18, 2018

Saint Patrick's Day 2018

Saint Patrick's Day 2018
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 18, 2018

Avery was home from college for Spring Break this week.  When he heard that Toys R' Us was going out of business, he insisted on going there.  He had a lot of good memories of the place from his childhood and wanted to re-live them one more time while he still had the chance.

On Tuesday night, we went out to dinner with Avery and his girlfriend, Emma.  We also had the chance to meet her mother and brother.  They are very nice people and we had a wonderful time at dinner together.

We still have a lot of snow on the ground, but the temperatures have been getting a little higher.  So our albino squirrel friends are starting to show up again looking for food.  We're always so happy to see them.

On Saturday morning, Miss Sheri and I donned our favorite St. Patrick's Day gear and headed to Downtown Saint Paul to attend the annual parade.

Technically, it was the Walters idea to go.  They called us up Friday night and asked if we were interested in going with them so we said "Absolutely!"  We're always up for new adventures.

There was a lot of fun people down there wearing all sorts of festive outfits.

Jen got a little "Horned Up" waiting for the parade to begin.

It was amazing how many people were there both watching the parade and participating in it.  It lasted for more than a couple of hours.  That's a lotta Irish People.

There were some fun bands and fun people watching.  I bet these guys had to be pretty cold under their kilts.

I was watching the parade when Senator Amy Kloubouchar noticed me on the side of the street.  She waved at me and then I asked if it was OK to get a picture with her.  She happily obliged.  What a nice lady!

I loved seeing all the Irish Wolfhounds that were marching so nicely in the parade.  Such good puppies.

I never realized how many Irish families there are in the Twin Cities.  A lot of families had their banners with them and some were more inclusive than others.

Up She Goes was the chant of the day.  It was fun watching these ladies fly although I couldn't help but get a little nervous for them.  They were getting some serious air!

On Saturday night, we went to our friends, The Zitzewitz Family, for their annual "Beer Tasting" party.  Everyone is supposed to bring a couple of 6 packs from various craft breweries and then we all get small tastes of each to discover new favorites.  I think we hit a new record this year by trying more than 20 different beers.  I discovered I'm still pretty much an IPA guy.  

March 11, 2018

The Boys Are Back In Town

The Boys Are Back in Town
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 11, 2018

I'm getting really sick of winter.  When we walked out of our neighbor's house the other night, I took this picture of my house because I thought it looked like it was sitting on a mountain of snow.  Technically we're at the top of a hill, but I thought from this perspective it looked like a hill of snow.  What do I know?

Monday gave us another 7 inches of the white stuff.  It also brought down one of our neighbor's trees into our yard.  They were very nice, though, and took a chain saw to it and hauled it away for us.  Such good neighbors.  

Luke and Avery were home from college this weekend for Spring Break.  Avery also brought home his girlfriend, Emma.  They were reminiscing about how much fun they used to have building snow forts and one thing led to another.  They now have a big snow fort in the front yard.  They know how to have a crazy time on a Saturday night!

Luke spends a lot of time bowling when he's at college so we thought it would be fun to get in a game while he was home.  It was.

On Friday, my buddies from Iowa came to town for a boy's weekend.  It was really good to see them.

The weekend started at Shooter's Billiards in Burnsville where we played a bunch of pool.

On Saturday morning, we headed over to the Mall of America because that seems like an appropriate thing to do on a Guy's weekend.

We were excited to be there because the stars of the upcoming movie Midnight Sun were there to make an appearance.

Patrick Schwarzenegger is the son of Arnold and Bella Thorne is a former Disney star.  Both of them seemed to be pretty excited to be at the Mall of America.  Just like I was.

We stopped at Bubba Gump Shrimp factory to eat some seafood and watch Forrest Gump silently on the screen in front of us.  Don't tell us we don't know how to party.

Later that night, we came back to the Mall to go to Benihana.  Our boy's weekends used to be quite a bit crazier.  Now they seem to be focused around food a lot of the time.  In any case, I had a bunch of fun with my old buddies.

On Sunday, we met Grandma Linda for lunch.  I'd like to think that she looks as small as she does because it's a trick of photography because she's sitting at the far end of the table.  But no, it's not a camera trick.  She really is that small.

March 4, 2018

Starting A New Job at Oracle

Starting A New Job at Oracle
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 4, 2018

I started a new job at Oracle this week.  I was promoted from being an inside rep selling our applications software to being a field rep selling our core technology solutions.  Instead of working in downtown Minneapolis, I will now alternate working from home as well as in our Bloomington office when I'm not traveling to see customers.

I took this photo on Friday afternoon from our office.  More than 10 years ago, I was working for Nor-Tech and used to host customer events in the building pictured.  At that time, I used to dream about what it would be like to work for Microsoft and work in a building like this.  At that point, I decided that's where I wanted to go in my career.  

Well, it's taken a long time and a whole lotta interviews, but I feel like I finally achieved my goals.  Sure it's with the 2nd largest provider of enterprise software rather than the largest and I'm in the tower next to the one I was originally envisioning, but it's close enough.  Now I have to execute.  Thanks to all of you who have helped me to achieve my goals up to this point.

On Monday, my former team and I went to lunch at Fogo De Chao.  I'd always wanted to try the place and was very impressed with it.  You gotta go there with an appetite, though, because it's more meat than I've ever experienced in a single sitting.

I've made a bunch of good friends in my two and a half years at Oracle including everyone in this picture.  I'm going to miss them all very much.  

George Petruck and I have gone to lunch together probably 80% of my work days over the past 2 years.  He's the only person I know who used to work directly for the US Speaker of the House and actually once had a beer bought for him by Barack Obama.  I'm going to miss his perspective on things both at work and in the world.  Although we will both probably lose 20 pounds or so after not going to lunch together any more.

On Wednesday night, we went to O'Briens in Shakopee to see Robert the Piano Man.  I went to elementary school with Robert's wife, Hollie, and we discovered recently that we both now live in Prior Lake together.  It's such a small world.  But I'd still hate to try to carpet the whole thing.

Thursday night was our monthly get together with the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club.  We enjoyed ourselves at Artisan Bistro and shared a whole bunch of laughs with one another.  We didn't realize how naughty the painting on the wall was until we later looked at this picture else we would have requested they sit us in the PG-13 area of the restaurant.

Luke is home for Spring Break from Minnesota State Mankato University.  We thought it would be fun to visit the RV show happening at Canterbury Downs on Saturday and made ourselves comfortable in several of them.  They're lucky that they didn't have the TV's hooked up else we probably would have stayed there all night as well.

  On Saturday night, we went to a "Game Night" at our neighbor Jim's house.

When we last went to one of Jim's Game Nights, I was thinking we'd spend the night playing Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.  Turns out he means Game as in game that he and his crew have hunted and converted into food that we all get to enjoy.

They had quite the impressive spread and a wide variety of different game for us to try.  There was pheasant, venison, salmon, halibut, and a bunch of other yummy selections.  I think I was a little more adventurous in my selections than Luke and Miss Sheri, though.  Their preferred game animals are cows and chickens.

  It was a fun night with fun people.  Best of all, when the night was over we only had to stumble across the street to get home!