February 16, 2020

My New Job at Stibo Systems

My New Job at Stibo Systems
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 16, 2020

I spent the whole week in Kennesaw, Georgia at the US headquarters for my new company, Stibo Systems.

I can't remember ever being this excited about a new job before.

It's a pretty unique company having been in business since 1794 and is part of a foundation owned by the country of Denmark.  Stibo Systems started as a printing house and has re-defined itself many times over the centuries.  Today, they are a leader in multi-data management software and have an amazing portfolio of customers who have been successful with their solutions including ADIDAS, Best Buy, Sony, Toyota, and many, many others.

I'm excited to share more with you about it over the coming weeks.

Here's a neat video that gives a high level overview of what we do:

Before I left for Atlanta, we had the opportunity to attend the going away party for the Bailey Family.  Mike, Kim, Madison, and Victoria are moving from Minnesota to Arizona.  While I can certainly understand the desire to get away from this weather, it's bitter sweet for us because we've been hooking up for fun times with them ever since we moved to Minnesota some 25 years ago.  Best of luck with your future lives, Bailey Family!  We will miss you guys.

On Saturday morning, my old buddy, Orlando Mazzolini, stopped by for a visit and to take me on one of our adventures, this time going for a trip to Mystic Lake Casino.  I always have fun hanging out with Orlando!

The weather was warming up into the twenties so we thought we should take Blue out to get some exercise.  He's been getting pretty surly being cooped up in the house during the arctic blast we've been experiencing the last week or so.

 Luke was in town to pick up a new suit we bought him so he can start going on interviews for an internship he's pursuing.  We hope the best for him in his pursuit!

 This good dog is turning 5 years old this week so we'll be sure to have some kind of blow-out for him to celebrate.  He deserves to party.

On Saturday night, we went to our good friends, Karl and Tina Zitzewitz's house for some excellent dinner and conversation.  Karl hasn't had a chance to show off his meat to me for awhile so he was pretty proud when the time came.  I must admit he had some really nice meat.

Karl and Tina have a new kitty cat which made for hours of entertainment chasing her around the house.  I'm not sure what she thought of me, but I tried getting down to her level so we could connect.

Good friends, good food, and good times!  All in all, it was a really nice night!   

February 9, 2020

Buddy Holly Weekend in Clear Lake, Iowa

Buddy Holly Weekend in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 9, 2020

I've been doing a lot of traveling for work lately.  In 2020, I've already been to Milwaukee twice, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.  I was also interviewing for a new job which took me back and forth to Atlanta in the same day which ended up being a really long day, but it was worth it because I got the job!  I will tell you all about it in next week's update.

Last weekend, Miss Sheri and I thought it would be fun to head down to Iowa for the Winter Dance Party at the Surf which commemorates the anniversary of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper.  

A couple of years ago, we stopped by the airplane crash site of the singers which is just outside of my hometown of Clear Lake, Iowa.  It's on a nondescript gravel road so the glasses let you know where to pull over.

February 3rd, 1959 was the day the music died.  The Surf Ballroom in Clear lake, Iowa has been holding a celebration every year since then to help bring the music back to life.  I've never made it to the party before so we thought it would be fun to go down for the night and check it out.

I'm always fascinated driving by the windmills in North Iowa.  Some people think they are ugly, but I think they look pretty cool.

We arrived in Clear Lake just when the sun was going down which gave us a chance to take a couple of pictures of the lake.  I still remember when Clear Lake added the aerators to keep part of the lake from freezing back when I was in high school.  They use them to help reduce the winter fish-kill, but it also adds an interesting challenge for people who like to go snowmobiling on the lake at night!

I was pretty impressed with the number of people out on the town.  Almost all the bars had live bands playing 50's music and we had the chance to see a bunch of old friends.

I even saw one of my oldest friends, Ann Marie Legler, who I've known since the second grade when my family first moved to Iowa.  We haven't seen each other in decades, but had a great time catching up on the past 30 years or so.

We had dinner at Sevens which brought a lot of laughs and visits with more friends we hadn't seen in a long time.

Paul lives near downtown so we thought it would be fun to stop by his house for awhile.  It was.

This weekend we had a chance to go ice fishing with our old buddies, Jen and Dan.  We didn't catch many fish, but always have a good time sitting on the ice with them.

It was almost light outside because of the huge full Snow Moon staring down at us from the night sky.  Miss Sheri captured this shot which I thought turned out pretty amazing.

I drove by the pond near Mystic Lake Casino and was happy to see that the trumpeter swans were back.  It looks like they brought some friends with them this time.  

February 7, 2020

Last Day Working at Oracle

Today is my last day working at Oracle. It's hard to believe it's already been four and a half years since I started this adventure. I've gained so much great experience & knowledge about digital transformation during this period of my life. I've met so many amazing people and have new life-long friends because of this company. I've worked with incredible customers and enjoyed helping them develop solutions for their business challenges with our cloud technologies. I'm moving on to a new opportunity which I'm excited to share with you in the coming days and weeks. Thank you to Oracle, my colleagues, and customers for helping me to achieve my latest goals. You all are the best!

January 26, 2020

Badger Hill Brewing Company

Badger Hill Brewing Company
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 26, 2020

I had a chance to connect with some old friends this week including Steve and Melissa Cuddihy during our annual Fantasy Football awards ceremony.  I'm still pretty bitter about my performance in this year's fantasy football league as my team scored the second most points overall but failed to make the playoffs because my team played the weekly scoring leader week after week after week.  I think I may be cursed when it comes to gambling.

It's always great to see some of the old gang from the Nor-Tech days.  We had a bunch of fun together in the 14 years I worked there and it's nice to have a chance to catch up on the good ole days.

On Saturday night, we connected with the Browns and Zitzewitzes for dinner at O'Brien's Public House in Shakopee.  The food is pretty good there, but I'm really curious about what they have going on in their Private House.

After dinner, we made our way to Badger Hill Brewing Company.  It was my first visit so I was a bit shocked to see how crowded it was.  Turns out it was Trivia Night covering the first 3 seasons of the Office.  I used to be a huge fan of the show so thought I'd rock at being able to answer the questions, but was sadly mistaken.  I guess my memory just ain't that great.

Once trivia night was over, the crowd dissipated quickly giving us the opportunity to grab a table and play some highly competitive board games.  I thought we were all friendly with one another, but mixing craft brew with cards and chips on a board can be a pretty dangerous combination.  

On Sunday, we wandered out on Prior Lake to see the ice fisher people but they all stayed cooped up in their little houses so we didn't see much.  Next week, I'm going to start knocking on random doors to see what's going on in there.

January 19, 2020

It's 2020 and the snow is getting heavier in Minnesota.

It's 2020 and the snow is getting heavier in Minnesota.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 19, 2020

We went into the weekend expecting a blizzard and Mother Nature didn't disappoint.  She dropped about 5 inches on us.  Not sure you can call that a blizzard, but maybe a snowstorm would be more appropriate.

In any case the cardinals were sitting outside our window feeders knocking and demanding additional food be brought out to them.  They get pretty cranky when they're hungry.

The snow stopped and it apparently is now cold enough for snowmobiles and even some cars to be out there driving on frozen Prior Lake.  Which means I can finally talk Miss Sheri into walking on the ice.

Blue is so sick and tired of being cooped up inside.  When we give him the option to go for a run on the lake, he just can't contain his excitement.

Miss Sheri loves using the Force to levitate the dog, but unfortunately hasn't quite figured out how to make it work yet.  She'll get there.

Turns out she was complaining to the dog about leaving too big of a layer of slobber on the ball.  You'd think the below zero temperatures would freeze it in his mouth, but I guess slobber doesn't work that way.

Blue was so happy to have the chance to be playing fetch again.  The darn dog doesn't know his own strength though and can only chase the tennis ball 2 or 3 times before he bites the dang thing in half.

Then he sits there and cries about it because I tell him I can't throw the destroyed ball any more.  I tell him to be more gentle with his tennis balls every time we go out there, but he just doesn't listen.  

I have become fascinated with TikTok! It's an amazingly simple tool to create & edit fun little videos complete with music and sound effects and share them with the world. What I would have given for a tool like this in college!

January 12, 2020

Bocce Ball at Pinstripes

Bocce Ball at Pinstripes
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 12, 2020

Winter break is wrapping up and our boys are heading back to college.  We thought we should get in one more afternoon of entertainment before we went our separate ways so we headed to Pinstripes in Edina, Minnesota.

None of us really knew what we were doing to play tournament style bocce ball, but figured how hard could it be?  You throw a little silver ball down the court and whichever team gets their balls closer to it scores points.

Judging by this ladies expression next to us, I'm guessing we weren't doing something right.  In any case our family tradition continued and dad ended up in last place.  Even if we weren't playing the game correctly.

Pinstripes had these attractive looking birds staring at us from different locations.  I'm guessing they are some kind of spy-cams or something.

Our mellow winter continued this week with this open body of water attracting a large flock of trumpeter swans.  I tried to sneak up close to get some swan shots.

I didn't know it before, but apparently trumpeter swans were nearly hunted to extinction.  Back in the sixties, their known population in the world was down to 3700 birds, but they have since recovered to more than 63,000 in 2015.  I find them to be pretty cool looking birds, so glad they're doing better.

Our other exciting bird photo this week was of a red-bellied woodpecker.  Kind of a silly name for a bird since it's their head that's red, but who am I to judge.  

Our albino squirrel friends seem to enjoy the warmer weather as they continue to stop by to feed their bellies.  We are planning on starting a squirrel weight watchers club this spring as many of them look to be getting quite plump.

We had out January get together of the Prior Lake Empty Nesters Club at T.J. Hooligans in Prior lake.  I usually say a Good Time was had by all, but this month I suspect a couple of them only had an OK time.  We'll work on that next month.

I feel like they were all expecting me to say something, but it ended up being a few minutes of really awkward silence.  Then I went home.