July 28, 2019

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp

A Visit to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 28, 2019

On Saturday night, we had the honor of attending the wedding of Jamie Erickson & Sawyer VanHecke.  I've known Jamie since she was a young girl so it was a special treat to have the chance to spend this day with her as well as her friends and family.

Jamie is the daughter of our old friends Jay and Carmen Erickson.  Jay and I worked together for nearly 14 years at Nor-Tech and hit a lot of highs and a couple of lows together during that time.  Jay delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech for his daughter that had the whole place in tears.  Such a beautiful ceremony and reception.

We like to get dressed up to go to weddings.  Sometimes we do it and go to weddings of people we don't even know when we are bored.  Thankfully, we aren't bored very often.

Unfortunately for Luke, he had to work so wasn't able to join us for the occasion.  But Avery, Miss Sheri, and I had enough fun for the four of us!

We were lucky enough to have dinner with some old friends, Todd and Tammy Murr as well as their very nice daughters.  We were also joined by Dr. David Bollig so that made the night even more special.  I always have an awesome time with him.

All in all, it was a an incredible event.  You could tell this young couple is truly in love and are destined for long and happy lives together.  They had so many good friends and loving family there to celebrate and support them that it made everyone in attendance inspired and happy to be alive.  Weddings like that are really kind of magical.  Congratulations, Jamie and Sawyer!!

On Sunday, we were excited to attend our very first practice at the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center.  We always wanted to attend when they used to do training camp in Mankato, but never got around to it.  This year, we made it a priority to go there.

   The place is pretty incredible.  They have at least 5 outdoor fields that I saw and several huge buildings which I think house at least a couple more.  It makes it a bit difficult to follow the action when all the players are spread out so far and wide, but we were able to still see enough to get really excited about the upcoming NFL season.  Are you ready for some football?

It's our second season with the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins.  His debut year didn't go quite as planned, but everyone seems to be pretty excited that we will rebound in a big way this year.  Here's hoping.

Adam Thielen and Stephon Diggs were one of the highest performing wide receiver combos in the league last year.  There's been a lot of talk about who's going to step up to be the #3 guy around here so it was fun watching the entire group practice together to see who was standing out.  I'm keeping my bets on #12, Chad BeeBe.

Last year around this time, our star running back Dalvin Cook was still recovering from a serious knee injury so it was good to see him in there fully working this year.  When we saw him, he was doing drills lined up against newly signed running back, Ameer Abdullah formerly with Detroit.  They both looked pretty intense and ready to go.

All in all, the boys weren't quite as excited about the Vikings Training camp as I'd hoped.  Avery called it a bit underwhelming and they said it's like watching them warm up before a game.  I'm not sure what they were expecting, but I still enjoyed myself and am ready for the Vikings to start their path to the Super Bowl!

While we were there, Miss Sheri and I were selected as the Best Fans in the NFL.  So we got that going for us.  Which is nice.

July 21, 2019

Rainy Day Birthday

Rainy Day Birthday
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 21, 2019

It was back to Seattle this week for three nights of learning and team bonding for my new role at Oracle.

We were here to visit our newly opened "Cloud Experience Center" in downtown Seattle.  We were there to learn all about our new Generation 2 Cloud.

I'm pretty excited for my new role which I started in June.  I am now a sales representative for mid-market customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin selling our next generation Oracle Analytics Cloud, Autonomous Database, and Generation 2 Cloud Technology Solutions.  That kind of stuff may sound boring to a lot of you, but it's the kind of stuff I dream about at night!

At night, we did team building exercises including a 3 hour "Scavenger Hunt" at Pike Place Market.  This one was unique in that we were split into teams and each group was given an iPhone which instructed us where to go and what to do including taking all sorts of pictures and videos of us being silly in various spots around town.  In other words, it was right up my alley!

One of the tasks was taking a picture showing a "unique perspective" with one of our team members utilizing something in the background as part of the picture.  One of my co-workers thought it would be cool to get a unique perspective with this statue acting as his feet.  

I was feeling pretty thankful when this photo was taken.  Some of my new co-workers really stepped up to help me out after I discovered my iPhone was lost.  I figured out that I must have dropped it out of my pocket when I fell to the ground during one of our video skits.  I didn't have much faith that I'd recover it though because at least 10-15 minutes had passed since I realized I lost it and it was in the middle of a very crowded place.  One of my colleagues though was quick thinking and suggested I use the Find my iPhone feature on his phone and we were able to get a signal of it.  We wandered the area where it was supposedly located, but couldn't place it.  Suddenly the dot started rapidly moving across the park and then stopped in a spot we hadn't been to yet.  Sure enough when I went over there, it was laying on the ground.  I'm sure if we would have started 5 minutes later it would have been gone and I would have had to buy a brand new phone.  So three cheers for technology and kind co-workers who were nice enough to stop playing the game to come over and give me a hand!  There's good people left in this world!!

Late at night, we explored a different side of Seattle visiting the Nest's rooftop bar and it's incredible views.  It was a beautiful sunset!  Then it got dark...

Back home, the weather had been pretty rainy.  Miss Sheri always looks at the bright side of life, though, and was able to catch this beautiful shot of a rainbow adding a protective shield over our house.  

I turned 49 on the 20th. Which is weird. 49 feels old to me. Because I still don’t have things figured out yet. Just
like I didn't when I was 10...20...30... 

I still need a lot more time because there’s still big things I want to do with this life. 

I guess I’d better get going!

It was rainy all day on my birthday, so we opted to just stay inside all day which was fine with me.  There's no-one else I'd rather be with on my birthday than these guys and their mother.

This is a Bird on a Wire.  Or a good start for the first 2 days of Christmas.  Now all I need is another turtle dove and a partridge in a pear tree and I'm all set. 

July 14, 2019

Beating the Heat 2019

Beating the Heat 2019
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 14, 2019

Last Saturday night we were thrilled to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of our old friends, Kim & Mike Bailey.  They threw a beautiful party complete with a renewal of their vows to one another which brought a lot of tears to the eyes of the audience.  Here's to another 30 years!

We always have a good time with these people.  They had a DJ and microphone that we passed around a bit so I'm not sure if their neighbors were having as much fun as we were.

We always enjoy seeing Maddison and Victoria.  They should become professional models because every picture we take of them turn out stunning.

This was our first time seeing Dick and Vic since they came back from Arizona.  They always seem so sad all the time.

We sneaked in to see Luke while he was working at the deli at Lunds & Byerlys.  We like to stand there and have him give us free samples over and over again.  Just nice to take from him for a change!

Our Prior Lake Empty Nester Get Together for July was a bunch of fun and well attended.  A beautiful July night at Charlie's on Prior will tend to do that.

On Saturday, we spent the day on the St. Croix River with our good friends the Zitzewitz and Brown families.  It was HOT so we spent most of the day in the water.

The Browns brought their jetski which was really cool, but accelerated way faster than I was expecting.  Turns out there are two modes to run it in and I had it in the wrong one, so we were flying all over the place.  It was great until Luke tried to do some sharp turns which sent us both rolling over and into the water.  It's a lot harder climbing back onto one of these things then it looks when you are in the middle of the river!

Ryan and Avery showed us the proper way on how not to throw or catch a football when jumping 15 feet off the top of the boat.

Luke and Avery turned 20 years old this week.  I can't believe they are no longer teenagers!!  Where the heck does the time go???  Happy Birthday, Boys!!

July 7, 2019

4th of July 2019 in Clear Lake, Iowa

4th of July 2019 in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 7, 2019

We headed to Clear Lake, Iowa to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with friends.  We started the day with a round of golf at Oak Hills golf course.  It was dang hot so we ended up only playing 9 holes.

We decided to cool off at the OP and enjoy one of my favorite sandwiches:  The Grinder!  Avery says that word means something else to his generation, but I'm not sure what that means.

We went downtown to the carnival where we bumped into current presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke.  He was nice enough to take a picture with us.  I found it kind of funny that he apparently had been standing outside in the carnival in the rain.  Now that's dedication to meeting people.

The carnival was actually pretty quiet given the weather, so we had a lot of time to watch Beto while he was there.  I found it interesting that he brought his family with him for what I'm guessing is considered a campaign stop.  He met with people in between spending time with his family playing carnival games.  That has to be a tough life going from town to town meeting people one on one to try to get your message out there.  Especially when there's another 22 democratic candidates trying to do the same thing.

One of our favorite things to do at the carnival is to gamble with the locals in some intense games of BINGO.  We bumped into our old friend Holly Krieger during the competition and had fun playing the game together.  Even if she did Hush us several times.

We went to the VFW where we met up with a bunch more old friends.  That's my favorite part of Clear Lake at the 4th.  You just never know who you're going to run into...

We're always excited to watch the parade on the 4th of July.  Miss Sheri tells me I'm too old to be going for the candy, but I still sneak a few that come my way.

During the parade, celebrating America was on full display.

We always appreciate the opportunity to honor some of our veterans during the holiday.

We were expecting to see some of the current crop of presidential candidates at the parade since there's so many of them and they all want to make a name for themselves in Iowa to gain momentum for the race.  But for some reason, none of them showed.  US Senator Joni Ernst was there though and drew a lot of cheers from the crowd.

Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb is always real nice to me.  He usually likes to remind me of some the shenanigans I was up to in high school which gives us both a good laugh.

I enjoy watching the Shriners fly around the streets in their little cars and usually find myself with a pang of worry that they are going to slam into someone in the crowd.  Once again, though, they made it by us without incident.  They must be professional little car drivers or something.

We came home to Prior Lake for the weekend and took the boys and a friend out tubing on Saturday.

I keep thinking they may be getting too old for tubing, but they still seem to have a great time with it.

Avery and I really know how to use our noodles.

Blue had the best time over the 4th because he was able to go spend the holiday with his mother, brother, and brother on the lake.  We're pretty certain he was sad to see us when it was time to come home, but who could blame him.