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.

January 5, 2020

Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings vs Chicago Bears
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 5, 2020

It's been a weird January so far in Minnesota.  Although it's felt like we've had plenty of cold weather over the past few weeks, the stream down the street from my house is still wide open and I haven't seen any cars drive on Prior Lake yet.  Could we be having a mellow winter this year?  Let's hope so.

The warmer weather has brought all sorts of interesting birds to our feeders including this guy who I believe is called a Northern Flicker.  I wish I was called a Northern Flicker.

Last Sunday, Avery and I went to the Vikings game.  Originally I was going to take the whole family to the Vikings and Broncos game, but Avery couldn't make it so we ended up buying two tickets for each game.  The Broncos game was awesome, but I was afraid about the Bears game since it was the last game of the year.  I was right to be afraid.

The reason for my fear was the Vikings already had their playoff seeding sealed.  Due to their loss against Green Bay, they were set to be the NFC 6th seed team and nothing that happened in this game would change that.  This meant they were going to rest all their starters including quarterback Kirk Cousins who we saw for a couple of minutes warming up so he could ride the bench.

But it wasn't just Cousins who was going to be sitting out but almost all the starters including Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and most of their defensive stars.

Therefore we paid $280 for 2 tickets to see Sean Mannion try to throw passes to Laquon Treadwell, Alexander Hollins, and Bisi Johnson against the Bears starters.  I'm sure they're all nice guys, but when you're paying those kind of prices for tickets you expect to see more than the 5th preseason game for the team. 

At least we got to see the Bears starters play.  They beat up the Vikings pretty good early this season, so we were hoping to see  some payback when we first bought the tickets.  We didn't have much confidence in the backups being able to do that, though.

Ex Minnesota Viking Cordarrelle Patterson is one of our favorite players on the Bears.  He had fun before the game throwing the ball back and forth with people in the stands.  Although try as I might to catch his attention, he never threw the dang ball to me.

Back in September, there was an incident at the Tennessee Titans stadium where one of their pyrotechnic machines caught fire, so the NFL banned the use of fire in any pre-game celebrations.  So now the Vikings come out of the locker room through a bunch of smoke without any flames.  Doesn't look quite as cool as it used to.

The first half was pretty ugly, but the second half was much more exciting and the Vikings backups gave Mitch Trubisky and team a good run for the money.  But it wasn't meant to be.  The Vikings led all the way up to the end of the game before the Bears kicked a field goal to win by a score of 21-19.  Oh well.  At least the Vikings were going to the playoffs!

We had a bunch of fun on New Year's Eve going to two different parties the first of which was happening at our old friends, The Bollig Family.

We counted down the New Year at the Zitzewitz household along with these wild and crazy people.  Happy New Year, everyone!