February 23, 2020

Singing our way through February

Singing our way through February
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 23, 2020

On Thursday night, we had the monthly get together of our Prior Lake Empty Nester Club at the Tin Shed in Savage, Minnesota.    A good time was had by all.  Or at least by most.

Friday was Blue's 5th birthday so Miss Sheri made him a blueberry muffin and bought him a new set of his favorite balls.  He was so excited that he kept winking at her for the rest of the day.

Friday night brought us to the American Legion in Savage for Karaoke night.  We like to get together with our good friends and sing our lungs out.  

We were joined by members of the Walters Family and the Zitzewitz Family.  There's a lot of good singers in this group.

Tina's mom, Joyce, is quite the singer so her whole family came to spend the evening and listen to her serenade us all with some lovely classics.  It was a bunch of fun.

Our old friends, Jason and Amy Davis, were in town on Saturday with their boys so we took them out for their first Benihana experience.  I think we have them hooked.

How can you not love a place that starts huge fires mere inches in front of your face?

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!