December 24, 2022

The Swank Family Christmas Letter - 2022


God Bless Us Everyone!

Here we are.  Another year in the crapper.

  It feels like things will never get back to normal.

We still just can’t get over Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.  

Dang Covid.

As for the Swank Family, we've had quite a year!

The biggest news for us was the boys moving out of our house making Todd & Sheri empty nesters again.  

While we do miss them, it's also nice to be able to walk around the house naked.  

Now Todd’s wish for Christmas is a full-length mirror.   

It’s become pretty quiet at home.  So much so  that we've started talking to the furniture. 

So far, the couch has been the most responsive.  

Also, the coat rack seems to be hitting on Sheri.  

It’s probably because she likes saying to it, 

“Are you ready to hang a coat or are you just excited to see me?”

The boys are renting a nice house in Shakopee with a couple of high school buddies.  

Luke started a new job as a financial analyst for US Bank and is enjoying the opportunity to put his finance degree to use.

He helps process transactions that can exceed more than $100 million in one shot.  

No pressure.  

We keep asking him if he can siphon off a little bit for his old man, but he replies that wouldn’t be ethical.  

Not sure where he learned that garbage.

Avery is still working as a software engineer for Rocket Mortgage and just received a promotion to cap off a great year.  

He programs functions for their website to do things like process mortgage applications and loans.  

We keep asking him if he can funnel a little bit of that action into dad’s bank account.  

He says that wouldn’t be legal and he’d get fired.  

We don’t know what’s wrong with kids these days.  

They’re just not willing to take the kinds of risks we did when we were their age.  


After a brief stint at Stibo Systems, Todd has returned to Oracle and is now selling Cloud Solutions to fast-growing software companies.

He's a cloud whisperer, soothing the skies and bringing sunshine to even the stormiest of clients.  

The AI tool, Chat-GPT, wrote that last sentence.  It seems pretty smart, so it must be true.

Sheri has more free time now that the boys have left, so she spends it daydreaming about shirtless men on horseback. 

Of course, all the men in her fantasies happen to look exactly like her husband Todd, but hey, a girl's gotta have something to keep her entertained while she's doing the never-ending list of household chores. 

And honestly, who wouldn't want to ogle a shirtless Todd while tackling the laundry? 

It's a win-win situation.

Our golden retriever, Blue, is now almost eight years old and is starting to show his age with all the grey on his face. 

He’s also starting to refuse treats and instead has a preference for Viagra pills.  

Not sure what that’s all about.


Our big event this year was an eight-day trip to Alaska, where we saw bears, moose, killer whales, and even a glacier.

Not all at once, though.

 Our new year's resolution for 2023 is to start a business in the field of artificial intelligence or, as a backup plan, artificial idiocy. 

The demand is high, especially among politicians.

 "Artificial Idiocy: because sometimes pretending to be intelligent is just too much work."

The Swank Family


December 18, 2022

Porsche Driving Experience in Atlanta, Georgia


Porsche Driving Experience in Atlanta, Georgia
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 18, 2022

As has become something of a holiday tradition for us, we visited the Mayo Clinic for Luke's 6 month check-up with his doctors.  It was great to see them.  This was one of the least eventful check-ups I can ever remember.  Everything looks good & stable which we love to hear.  That's always my biggest wish for Santa.

We had a bunch more wet, heavy snow drop down on us this week.  It sure looks beautiful, but it definitely doesn't weigh beautiful.

I had the opportunity to get away from the blizzard for a couple of nights when I flew down to Atlanta, Georgia to visit the Porsche Driving Experience Center.

I had dinner with my manager, Jeremiah, and my colleague, Breyon, on the first evening.  They're both mentors and friends of mine and we always have fun spending time together.  I'm part of a really great team at Oracle.

On Thursday, we spent the day at the Porsche Experience Center.  It's a 1.6 mile driver development course to showcase the incredible performance of Porsche Vehicles.  

We hosted an event for customers & prospects to educate them about the benefits of partnering with Oracle.  I had a chance to visit with a customer, a prospect, and some of our ISV leadership including David and Joe.  It was a really great day.

We spent a few hours in a conference room and then had the opportunity to go outside and take out some Porsches for a drive through a variety of tracks and obstacles.

We'd been watching other groups drive cars on the tracks all day, so we were all pretty anxious to get our own turns behind the wheel.  We had quite a few Porsches to choose from.

I had the opportunity to drive the red Boxster in the first photo as well as this Porsche 911 which was my favorite of the two.  We had coaches go with us for the ride to teach us about the features of the automobile and to help keep us safe.  I appreciated that.  These machines have a lot of power and I really didn't want to be liable for driving one of them through the guardrail.

They take you through a variety of obstacles and have you do "Launch Control" tests by holding on the brake and pushing the gas pedal down to the floor, then releasing the brake.  That's a bit of a rush as you accelerate to 70 miles an hour in 3 or 4 seconds before they have you slam on the brakes as hard as you can.  The cars do have incredible control, but it's still a little anxiety inducing.   This track in the picture had something called a "Kick-Plate" which is a computer-controlled hydraulic plate set flush to the road surface and it's designed to cause loss of rear wheel traction, send you spinning in a random direction, while you try to recover.  The coaches told me I did good because I was able to recover both times I tried it, but I don't think I was going as fast as some of the others who ended up doing a doughnut or two before coming to a stop.

After we drove the real cars for an hour or so, we had the chance to go inside and try out the simulators.  I'm glad I didn't drive the real cars the way I did the simulations because I ended up in the wall more than a few times.

 On Saturday, Luke and I headed down to US Bank Stadium to cheer on our beloved Minnesota Vikings.

Matt Ryan and the 4-8-1 Indianapolis Colts were in town.  We were hopeful for the Vikings to win a game in a dominant fashion for once as they've had so many close games this year.

Of course, in typical Vikings Fashion, they didn't start by dominating the opposing team.  Instead, they had a horrible first half which led to a 33-0 score by halftime.  It was pretty depressing.  We even saw some people sitting around us leave the game, although we didn't contemplate anything like that.

Unbelievably in the second half, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings started battling back and ended up scoring 5 touchdowns.  

 They tied up the game at 36 and took it into Overtime.  They eventually hit a field goal to win the game.  It was the greatest comeback in NFL history and one of the most electric crowd experiences I've ever witnessed.  SKOL!

On Saturday night, we connected with our old buddies, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz, for dinner, drinks and some laughs.  It was a nice way to end the week!

December 11, 2022

Strolling Through Bentleyville Tour of Lights

 Strolling Through Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 11, 2022

We drove up to Duluth, Minnesota on Saturday.  Right when we arrived in town we see this group of characters walking over the bridge above the interstate.  How did I not know that everyone in Duluth dresses up like Santa all winter?  Seems kind of weird to me.

We met up with our good friends, The Korkowski family, shortly after our arrival.  Jacob goes to school at the University of Minnesota Duluth so he's local.  The rest of us are out of towners.

At nightfall, we drove to Fitgers to get on a train.  I thought it might be the Polar Express, but I didn't see Tom Hanks anywhere.

Lucky for me, these people are even more fun then a train car full of Hanks.

Our destination was a place called Bentleyville.  It's billed as the largest free Christmas Light walking tour in the country.  Not sure if that's true or not, but the place appeared to be pretty bright so it might be true.

They claim to have more than 5 million lights set up throughout the area.  I swear I only counted 4.5 million while we walked through so I'm not sure I can trust any of their numbers.

The display spans the 10 acre park on Duluth Harbor and takes about 45 minutes to walk through.  There are a lot of unique things to see and they play festive holiday music on the various paths as you stroll along.

They say they love Duluth.  I think it's a pretty nice place, but love is an awfully strong word for me.  I think I'll just be friends with Duluth and leave it at that.

The tree in the center of the display is more than 120 feet tall and has more than 50,000 lights.  I looked for presents underneath, but couldn't find anything.

The heart at the end of this tunnel was making me feel pretty romantic.  I thought it would be cool to get a picture with my wife in there, but the line was too long to make that happen.  So we had to feel romantic from a distance.

A short while later, we found this little display with a Santa hat where we could get a picture together.  Not quite the same sentiment as the heart, but we both still felt pretty happy to be together.

When I asked Luke if he wanted to get a romantic photo with me as well, he politely declined.  He then said he'd take this platonic picture with me.

We stuck pretty close to the Korkowskis which could be a challenge at times.  There was a lot of people who wanted to see these Christmas lights.

The Star Tribune said more than 350,000 people will walk through Bentleyville this holiday season.  That's a lotta light lookers.

The have several holiday themed snack stations scattered throughout the event.  We didn't partake because we weren't positive it wasn't some kind of a set-up by a Grinch type individual.  Maybe next time we'll be a little more trusting.

Bentleyville sits next to the shores of Lake Superior.  It's one of the greatest lakes I've ever seen.

All kidding aside, it was a pretty cool experience to visit Bentleyville.  They do have a very impressive display of lights and it was a fun thing to do to get into the holiday spirit.  

Before we knew it, the last train of the evening had arrived and it was time for us to leave.  Although we still didn't see Tom Hanks on the way back to Fitgers, I did spend much of the ride back thinking about his statement that there's no greater gift than friendship!

December 4, 2022

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 4, 2022

This is the view out of my office window and pretty much what I stared at all week.  Pretty depressing.

Friday night was fun after we met up with Tom & Kellie Wolf at Legends in Prior Lake.  We always have a good time when we get together.

On Saturday we stopped at the Holiday Fest in Shakopee.  There was a street party with vendor booths and various events for the family culminating in a tree-lighting ceremony.  It was only about 6 degrees as we stood outside for a half hour for them to turn on the colored lights.  I was pretty glad when they finally did it.  Not because the tree was that special, but because it meant we got to leave and get back in our warm car.  It was darn cold!

After Holiday Fest, we drove to Target Center in Minneapolis to watch our beloved Minnesota Timberwolves.  It was much warmer in here so that was much appreciated.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Oklahoma City Thunder were in town.  The Wolves had already beaten them twice this year so we were pretty confident we'd get to watch another victory.  
We were wrong.

Miss Sheri and I always get a bit giggly when we dress alike.

We laughed even more when we saw our picture on the scoreboard during the game.  That always makes me extra happy.

The game started off well enough.  Even though Karl-Anthony Towns is injured and out for a month or so, we were happy to see that Jaden McDaniels was back in action this evening.

Normally losing Karl would be a major blow for this team, but things are different now that we have Rudy Gobert.  We figured with him and Anthony Edwards we still have a solid core that will allow them to keep winning games.

That theory was great until Rudy Gobert got ejected from the game for kicking one of the Thunder players.  It was an especially spicy night for the home team as they generated 5 Technical fouls across the team during the game.  They went on to lose to the Thunder by a score of 135 to 128.  Kind of a bummer.

It might just be me, but I'm starting to think all these years of owning the Timberwolves has started taking a toll on Glen Taylor.

Sunday brought us back to Minneapolis to see our beloved Minnesota Vikings.  They had a record of 9-2 but pretty much every game we've watched this year has been a nail-biter.  We were hoping they'd have a convincing win today with a big lead at the end.

Avery joined me for the game.  He even let me get a picture with him which is a hit or miss proposition much of the time.

The 7-4 New York Jets were in town.  Their quarterback, Mike White, had debuted the previous weekend and beat the Chicago Bears in a pretty impressive fashion.  We knew it would be a competitive match-up.

In true Vikings Fashion, they built up a big lead in the first half going into the locker-room up 20-6.  They let the Jets come back into the game and get the score within 5 points by the middle of the 4th.  Naturally the end of the game was a nail-biter, but lucky for us the defense played real tough in the red zone and they held on for a 27-22 victory.  Maybe next week we'll get that convincing victory we've been seeking, but in the meantime the team is still 10-2.

The Vikings brought the kid who dressed up like Kirk Cousins at the Thanksgiving game back for an encore performance.  
It was pretty awesome.

This Week's Tik Tok Videos

@toddswank Didnt know I could move like that. #chilllikethat ♬ Chill Like That - Sunday Scaries & PiCKUPLiNES
@toddswank Shakopee Holiday Fest #shakopee #minnesota #holidayfest #christmas2022 #treelighting ♬ It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas - Michael Bublé
@toddswank Minnesota Vikings Opening Ceremony. #skol #minnesota #vikings #nfl @Vikings ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank Captain Kirk meets his doppelgänger. #Vikings #captainkirk #kidkirk #minnesota ♬ original sound - Todd Swank