March 31, 2019

The Open Water Is Getting Bigger

The Open Water Is Getting Bigger
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 31, 2019

I feel like I've been posting too many pictures of my dog lately.  We just had such a brutal winter this year that I continue to be excited with every sign of spring that I see.  The open water in the lake continues to get bigger and bigger, even though we still have way too much ice out there yet.  Blue is so happy to be able to get out there and swim for awhile.  He was so sick of being stuck inside for the months of January and February.

We've also been going for a lot more walks the past few weeks which he needs to shed the extra 10 pounds of winter weight that he put on.  I need to do the same thing...

Now that's a happy dog.  He also appears to have a Rooster Tail.

We've had some interesting looking ducks in the neighborhood this week.  They kind of look like hippies to me with their long scraggly hair.

I've looked online and believe these are Merganser Ducks.  They are known to migrate through Minnesota but they don't usually live here year round.  So this week Prior Lake was kind of like an Air-BNB for them.  I wonder where they make their reservations?

We also put the trail cam in the backyard this week and caught some interesting footage.  Here's the video:

Last year my friend, Tim Hoel, suggested I get a trail cam to take videos of the critters in my Minnesota backyard. This is the first spring we've had it in place and I was pretty pleased with the results. We got our first shot of a raccoon, a curious little mouse, some bunnies frolicking, and a passing shot of some 4 legged beast.

I was downtown Minneapolis having lunch with a client the other day and stumbled upon this real life March Madness Bracket by the IDS Tower. The Final 4 is coming to Minnesota next weekend! I probably won't get anywhere near it...

On Thursday, I flew down to Omaha to see a customer and was shocked when I dropped out of the clouds to see how bad the flooding devastation was. It literally looked like an ocean in Nebraska. Prayers go out to those affected.

Luke surprised us with a visit home on Friday night. Turns out he was having some car problems and wanted his parents to pay for the repairs. At least we're still good for something to these college kids!

On Saturday night, our old buddies, Jen & Dan Walters, came over for a hot tub party. We also spent a lot of time hugging each other in a group for some reason.

I'm sick of having to fill Blue's water bowl all the time so I've been working on teaching him how to drink out of a straw. It hasn't been going all that great.

March 24, 2019

Here Comes The Sun

Here Comes The Sun
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 24, 2019

The temperatures started rising this week and we actually saw that big ball of fire in the sky for a change.  The snow has melted quite a bit and the backyard is full of land mines that the dog has deposited over the past several months of not being able to get back there to pick anything up.  Bring on Spring!

Like every Golden Retriever we've ever had, Blue was anxious to get in the water the second there was an open hole for him to access.  I screwed up and threw the ball in the water thinking it was wide open.  Turns out there was still a thin layer of ice that he discovered after sprinting down there and diving into it headfirst.  It was a bit of surprise for him, but he quickly turned himself into an ice barge and started cracking through all the ice to get to his ball.    As you can see, he was pretty proud of himself for his accomplishment.

We've been walking by this stream the past couple of weeks and have been watching as the water gets stronger and stronger as the temperatures rise.  It also has been providing shelter to an inordinate amount of ducks who are waiting for the lakes to start opening up as well.  Signs of Spring are everywhere!  Knowing Minnesota, that means the blizzards will be starting again very soon.

We spent a lot of time in restaurants with friends and family this week.  Avery was home this week and what college boy doesn't love spending time with his grandmother for Spring Break?  So we made his wish come true.

I had some work going on in Downtown Minneapolis, so I was fortunate enough to have lunch with my old buddies, Will, Chris, and Mike.  What a good looking crew of dudes.

On Friday night, we went to one of our new favorite restaurants, Whiskey Inferno, in Savage.

We connected with our old friends, Tom & Kellie Wolf.  Tom had received a recommendation from a friend to order the Butcher's Feast which was basically a huge bowl of meat and other goodies.  It was delicious and so much food we probably could have had another couple to help us finish it!

On Saturday, we went to the Mall of America to Wahlburgers to be part of the Funky Bunch with Marky Mark and Family.

Chris Wagler and Matt Amos were in town dropping off a friend at the airport so Jason, Jen, Miss Sheri, and I met them for dinner and some laughs.  Not necessarily in that order.

March 17, 2019

The Boys Are Back in Town 2019

The Boys Are Back in Town 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 17, 2019

My high school buddies, Joel Anderson, Ron "Sugarman" Myers and "Krazy" Kory Madson, all came up to spend the weekend with me.  We were supposed to go skiing, but that fell through for various reasons.  So we were just going to have fun instead!

Luke And Avery were also in town for the weekend.  Avery's Spring Break started on Friday and Luke came home to spend some time with him.  Their friends, Josh and Jenni, came over to go out with the boys and I believe a fun time was had by all.  At least I'm hoping that's what happened.

Not one to be left-out, Blue said if everyone else was having friends over, he insisted on having a friend over his well.  Eventually he invited the neighbor dog over to play.  They sure had a good time together.

Even the albino squirrels weren't leaving each other's sides this weekend.  Everyone appreciates having good friends!

I've been playing cards with this group for more than 30 years.  It's nice for my boys to get a chance to get to play with us for awhile.  Until I realize that ultimately I'm bankrolling half the table.  Probably not a good idea on my part.

We thought it would be fun to take the light rail  to Downtown Minneapolis.  It was pretty fun, but we did almost have a big fight break-out in the car behind us which was a little surreal.  We were on the crazy train!

Being it was the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, there were all sorts of people downtown being festive and having fun!  We like hanging around people like that.

We capped off the night at Benihana having one of our favorite meals.  We had a bizarre coincidence occur when the other couple at the table with us who were randomly seated ended up being the old boss of Krazy Kory.  Weird how things like that work out sometimes.

This guy likes to blow his own horn about his cooking.  I must admit, it was pretty dang good!

March 10, 2019

Spring is Coming 2019

Spring is Coming 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 10, 2019

It has been a brutally long winter.  So far in 2019, we have had 32 days where the temperatures have been below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  We just came out of the snowiest February in recorded history for Minnesota.  Needless to say, when I heard we were expected to have another 12 inches of snow fall on us, I wasn't looking forward to it.  Lucky for us, we only had about 5 inches.  It did look really pretty on the trees when we woke up this morning.

Miss Sheri takes care of our driveway and it's been quite the chore the past few months.  I don't remember our pile ever being this high in the past.

I thought it would be fun to get the drone out to capture some aerial shots of the snow.  It was fun for awhile until the wind picked it up and almost carried it into the neighbor's snow covered tree.

My dog, Blue, has been acting like quite the victim lately constantly whining about not being able to go outside for runs.  He normally spends a lot of time in our backyard, but it hasn't been too pleasant trying to navigate the deep snow.

Sometimes he gets so frustrated, he tries to eat all the snow.  He barely makes a dent.

Sometimes he pouts and asks me to make all the snow go away.  I just tell him Spring is Coming.  It's kind of like our little play on Game of Thrones, but I swap out the word Spring for Winter.  he finds that hilarious.

When the temperatures warm up, I take him down to the lake so he can race the snowmobiles.  It was a balmy 28 degrees today and I swear it feels like a heat wave!!  Spring is Coming!!

Other fun things I did this week was going for a visit to our old friends on the Prior Lake High School Robotics team, KING TeC, at their annual robot reveal event.

This year's competition looks like it will be pretty challenging, but I was really impressed with the team's new robot they built this year.  It has an impressive arm that uses advanced programming techniques to place the discs and balls used in the competition.  I look forward to seeing how well they do this year.

We also fired up the Prior Lake Empty Nester Club again for the first time in a few months.  We were joined by some fun friends at Buffalo Wild Wings in Savage.  It's always good to get out of our igloos for awhile and go socialize again.

March 3, 2019

Egypt's Sunken Cities at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Egypt's Sunken Cities at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 3, 2019

On Sunday night, Miss Sheri and I had the opportunity to sub-in for a team in a curling match.  Unfortunately we didn't help our team win, but it ended up being a more competitive match than I thought it would be for our first time.

Our friends, Guy and Jeanine Perea, are basically professional curlers.  They help teach the instructional class at the Lakeville Curling Club and were the ones who asked us to fill-in for the night.  We just may have to join a league next year because it was a whole bunch of fun.

We joined our friends, The Browns and Zitzewitzes, for a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  It's a pretty incredible place.

I can't believe we'd never been here before.  The place is huge and has such an amazing collection of art from all over the world and so many different eras.  We could have spent hours and hours here and probably not seen everything.

We were excited that Luke and Avery were able to join us for the trip.  We hadn't seen either one of them for several weeks.  Luke's spring break started this week and we were pretty close to Avery's apartment so he decided to join us for the day.  We always enjoy seeing angry statue dudes with our favorite sons.  

It takes pretty big balls to make an exhibit like this.

I thought this guy looked a little familiar.

The main reason for our trip was to see a special exhibit called Egypt's Sunken Cities.

It's a pretty cool exhibit featuring pieces that were recovered by an underwater archaeologist named Franck Goddio and his team back in 2000.  They discovered the lost city of Thonis-Heracleion off the coast of Egypt and recovered a huge treasure trove of artifacts.

This is the Stele of Thonis-Heracleion.  My understanding is that it was deciphered to reveal that it primarily regards payments to the local temple.  Quickbooks seems to be a much easier way to do that, but maybe their computers weren't working or something.

I'm not sure who this lady was, but I just keep thinking what it must have been like being the person that discovered her.  I can't imagine swimming around the ocean and suddenly stumbling across a huge statue like this with her eyes missing.  Talk about Spooky.  I would have thought she was going to suddenly come to life and pull me down into the depths of hell.  But I just get funny thoughts like that sometimes.

Of course, you aren't supposed to touch any of the exhibits but we found with some of them you could put your hand over the top of the statue, it would set off a small alarm.  Naturally making that happen was the highlight of our day.

Not all of the items in the exhibit were discovered underwater.  Some of them were discovered on land in Eqypt.  Sadly, I don't know which ones are which but this guy looks just a little bit too clean to have been under the water for 1200 years like the others.  I wonder if he realized that his shadow makes him look like a bishop in Chess?  Probably not. 

Miss Sheri thought this guy might have been the inspiration for Weeble Wobbles.  If he was, I'm sure he really regrets missing out on all those royalties.

This guy wasn't in the Egypt exhibit, but I think we found him in the Asia area.  In any case, he probably should have been in the Christmas exhibit so he could stand next to his buddy, Cold Miser.

This is a God named Hapy and he was too big to fit in the actual exhibit, so they stuck him out in the hall instead.  I'm sure he wasn't too Hapy about that!

It must be nice to have a statue like this made in your image that lasts for a millennium or two.  I'm going to see if I can get one of these created of me sometime.  Then I'll dump it in the ocean for someone to discover in a thousand years.  That'll show 'em.

I'm going to buy myself a casket in the shape of a big bird.  I think I'd rather go with a duck, though.  I'll also add some sound effects so if you lift the lid of my casket, it makes loud quacking sounds.  That will be so fun.

I wish I would have lived during the times of the Hippo People.  I bet they were pretty nice.

This guy had some really nice, thick hair.  Not sure why he'd smash it down with that bucket hat though.  

What a fun day at the Minneapolis Institute of Art!

After our visit to the museum, we visited a nearby restaurant called Lake and Irving which happens to be located at the intersection of Lake Street and Irving.  Really good food, but they are going to have a heck of a time opening a second location.  What other city has a Lake Street that crosses Irving Street?