December 23, 2023

The Swank Family 2023 Christmas Card


Merry Christmas from our computer to yours! 

Our journey through 2023 has been filled with laughs, love, and a few surprises along the way.  Think of it as a sitcom, but you can't change the channel. 

This February, Todd and Sheri will toast to 30 years of marriage.   Sheri's been with Todd for 30 years—she's officially qualified for sainthood now.  She says the secret is simple: agree with Todd, then do whatever you were going to do anyways. 

Todd's still rocking it at Oracle, selling Cloud & Artificial Intelligence solutions helping to get us all one step closer to our robot overlords.
  Because nothing says job security like training the AI that’ll replace you.   Sheri's evolved into a tech guru when dealing with Todd; emails are her megaphone in a world where screens have stolen his ears.  Those notification dings have real power.

We’re empty nesters once more, but our birds keep flying back to the nest from time to time.
  Must be the homing instinct.  Luke left US Bank this year to become an accountant at a company called Cyber Power Systems.  Luke switched from banking to accounting, because he prefers his numbers without a side of customer complaints.  Luke’s in a new house with some of his buddies, splurged on a 2023 Nissan Sentra, and has a savings account that says, 'I’m adulting harder than you'.  It would be a smooth move to have your daughters, nieces, or cousins give him a swipe on Bumble.

Avery continues his software engineering role at Rocket Mortgage.
  He now shares a home with his amazing girlfriend Abby, a  flight attendant from Atlanta.   They live in Eagan near the airport which probably makes sense.  With Abby, Avery's love life has really taken off—literally. They've visited more cities than are on a geography quiz!   Our golden retriever, Blue, misses his brothers and hates winter because he doesn’t get as many walks.  Blue's coping with it by judging us from the couch and perfecting his sad eyes. He's got that 'longing for summer' look down pat.

2023 wasn't without its challenges, health-wise for our family.
  We have some battles yet ahead of us.    We've learned to hold our loved ones close and do everything we can to live each day to its fullest.   Life is precious.  We do our best to discover new experiences, go to new places, treat everyone we can with respect and kindness, and try to continuously connect and laugh with good people.  That’s our formula for happiness.

For 2024, our goals are high.  We’re going to use ChatGPT to create
a script for a movie about our family. If it’s too accurate, we might just have to sue ourselves for invasion of privacy.

From our family to yours, we wish you a holiday season filled with joy and a new year brimming with blessings.

The Swank Family


December 17, 2023

The Things We Do For Family


The Things We Do For Family

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 17, 2023

On Sunday night, Miss Sheri and I went to see Pete Davidson and some of his buddies do comedy at Mystic Lake Casino.  I always liked Pete from SNL and I really enjoyed the King of Staten Island.  The comedy was fine, but honestly I felt like I usually do after I've watched an episode of Saturday Night Live over the past several years.  I think the word is Meh.

On Monday night, the kids joined Miss Sheri and I as we celebrated Grandma Linda's birthday at Buca di Beppo in Eden Prairie.  Family style Italian cuisine and a feisty Grandma Linda in a mood to party always make for an exciting way to spend a Monday night!  

Happy Birthday, Mom!

On Friday night we traveled into No Man's Land.  Otherwise known as Wisconsin.  Home of many of our most hated sports teams and also pretty good cheese related food products.  We weren't quite sure what the trip had in store for us, but we were braced for fun.

Our first stop was to Radisson, Wisconsin which is the home town of our buddy Dan Walters and his extended family.  The occasion was a sad one as they were there for the celebration of life for Dan's mom, Martha.  May she rest in peace.  Although we were there to pay our respects, we also had the time to meet some of Dan's family we hadn't met before and visit with others we had.  It was a bunch of fun.

I must admit the Tree and Lights were beautiful, but I couldn't stop thinking that it was probably going to be a pretty dark Christmas for the families of those deer.  I hope none were related to Rudolph.

We spent the night at a beautiful cabin on the Chippewa Flowage.  We had a fun time staying up late and sharing stories with one another.  These cats are pretty crazy.

The next morning we had to get up early to continue our voyage deep into the state of Wisconsin.  We found ourselves in the woods in the middle of nowhere which was a bit disturbing until this nice fellow flew over our car and landed in a tree on the side of the road.  He let us take some pictures of him and then we figured he'd guide us for the rest of our trip which was a peaceful feeling.  He ended up flying away shortly after this photo.  Thank God for Google Maps!

The original reason for our trip was to go to Green Bay to meet up with my sister.  We were so thrilled to go to the home town of the mortal enemy of our beloved Minnesota Vikings.

Apparently my brother in law, Dave, was born in Wisconsin and is a lifelong Packers fan.  They flew up from Dallas to attend the Packers Buccaneers game and since it was only a 4.5 hour drive for us, my sister Tracy insisted we come hang out with them for a night.  We begrudgingly obliged.

Luke said the only way he was going to Lambeau Field would be dressed in his favorite Vikings gear.  I must admit most people were pretty polite to us although he did have a few hecklers throughout the night.  It was a bit weird for us when we watched the Vikings game at a bar in the shadow of the stadium especially when they lost the game at the last minute and everybody but us were cheering!

As part of the rivalry between Packers and Vikings fans, we're constantly reminded that we haven't ever won a Super Bowl in our team's history.  I guess I don't think it's that big of a deal and imagined that the Packers wouldn't make a big deal about it in their stadium ether.  There's no way they'd completely rub it in opposing team's faces by having a giant statue erected of the Lombardi Trophy or anything.  That would just be a little too tacky of them to do such a thing.

The Mohars were nice enough to let us stay with them in the cabin they rented for the trip.  We were so excited to get away from Lambeau Field and away from all the Packers stuff.  We were just a little bit disappointed when we arrived.

We eventually made them leave the Packers Cabin and we spent the rest of the evening at Target.  Honestly it wasn't too bad once we got past the shrine to the Green Bay Packers that the Target has spread across the entire first half of the store.
@toddswank In 1988, I worked at Kentuckey Fried Chicken. I also loved rap music. When my boss heard my rap about KFC, he asked if he could use it for a radio commercial. I was happy to help. #KFC #rapsong #radio #commercial #kfcrap ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank More footage of the guy riding his motorcycle on Prior Lake in 50 degree weather. #winterriding #thinice #motorcycle #snowmobile #priorlake #minnesota ♬ Seven Nation Army - 苏七岁

December 10, 2023

It's Going To Be A Spectacular Christmas


It's Going To Be A Spectacular Christmas

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 10, 2023

On Sunday night, we went out with our old pals, Ted & Marcia.  They're such good people.

They took us to a concert at River Valley Church called "Christmas Spectacular".  I have to agree with the title.  It was pretty spectacular and made me excited for Christmas!

We were pretty impressed with the whole place.  The stage, the lighting, the decorations, and the production all seemed extremely professional.  I was blown away with all of the camera equipment they had capturing the event.  We sat behind this guy.  He was on a special wheeled cart on a track and another guy pulled him back and forth all night long.  They weren't messing around!

The singers & musicians matched the professionalism of the crew and put on quite a good show.  They said all of the singers were members of the church which means their choir must be phenomenal!

On Wednesday night, we headed to downtown Minneapolis to cheer on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Miss Sheri joined me at the game which made me happy.  She sometimes holds my hand while we watch and that makes me feel pretty darned special.

We were there to see the Wolves take on the San Antonio Spurs and their new #1 draft pick, Victor Wembanyama.  The 7 foot 4 inch Frenchman is quite the sight to see.  He rises so high above the basket it sometimes appears like he doesn't even have to jump to dunk the ball.   The Spurs are currently on a 16 game losing streak, though, so his height doesn't seem to be helping them that much.

We've got a pretty tall Frenchman of our own.  Rudy Gobert is 7 foot 1 inch and has been absolutely dominating the league.  The Wolves are currently riding the NBA's best record at 17 and 4.  A year ago everyone was criticizing the Wolves for trading for him and giving up too much, but it really seems to be paying off for them this year.  There's even MVP talk for him which makes sense because he dominates under the basket on both sides of the floor.

Chris Finch was named the NBA's Coach of the Month because of their success.  They were 13-2 in November which is a Franchise record best month.  I've been a Wolves fan for about 30 years and sat through a lot of lousy seasons so it's nice to see them start getting some accolades. 

I don't know what Anthony Edwards threw in Daishen Nix's hair, but I hope he realizes that paybacks are a word that rhymes with Witch.

I bet Jaden McDaniels just said "Naz Reid".  Just a Guess.

If I could read Karl Anthony Towns' mind, I bet he's thinking "OMG!  That is Alex Rodriguez sitting in the seat directly behind me!"

We've always had a special place in our heart for Karl's dad, Karl Senior, ever since we sat in the seats directly in front of him during Karl's rookie debut.  His wife passed away from Covid a couple of years ago and we've been noticing his fashion is getting more and more hip each week.  Now we just got to find somebody nice to sit next to him in those courtside seats of his.

The Spurs didn't get a chance to break their losing streak against the Timberwolves as the home town team won comfortably by a score of 102 - 94.  It would be great if this would be the Timberwolves year  and see them make a deep run in the playoffs.  It's probably best to not get ahead of ourselves!

On Friday night, I met my old buddy Tim Ashland out for dinner at JL Beers in Burnsville.  It was great getting the chance to catch up with him for a couple hours.

December 3, 2023

Christmas by the Lake


Christmas by the Lake

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for December 3rd, 2023

Miss Sheri and I started the week on Monday Night Football.  We were quite excited to see our Minnesota Vikings take on the Chicago Bears and get a win on National TV.  It sounded real nice in theory.

It was extra special for us because we were selected to be on the field during the Team introductions.  They have an opportunity for Season Ticket holders to hold the Vikings Fan Flags while the various players are being announced.  We'd entered the drawing a few times this season and were finally selected to participate.  Here's a video I shot of the event:
@toddswank The Vikings Fan Flag Experience! #minnesota #vikings #skol #nfl #usbankstadium ♬ Lovin On Me - Jack Harlow


Vikings Legend, Adrian Peterson, was also on the field for the game.  I think he may have been there to see us hold the Fan Flag but I can't be sure.  He seemed to be looking up in the stands for us here, but as much as I waved he never did seem to be able to find us.  Too bad.

The game itself was a mostly forgettable affair.  The 3 and 9 Bears came in and put on a beatdown on the 6 and 5 home team.  The Vikings had started showing some signs of life this season, but definitely went down hill by losing their second in a row. 

I'm not sure I've ever seen a player's status rise and fall as fast as that of Vikings quarterback, Josh Dobbs, has had over the past few weeks.  He came in after Kirk Cousins was injured and helped us win a couple of games.  He then lost a close one in Denver and had a rough night in Chicago throwing 4 interceptions and some other blunders.  The Vikings lost the game by a score of 12 - 10, but I'm not sure if it was all his fault.  He should probably be given one more chance before making a switch, but not sure if the Vikings will listen to me for advice on the topic.

Our Minnesota Timberwolves on the other hand are having one of their best seasons ever.  They were 13 and 4 when we arrived to watch them take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Avery and one of his college buddies, Sam, joined us for the game.  I got the tickets for free from Bally Sports because their streaming app sucks basketballs.  They gave me the worst seats I've ever had for a game putting us near the top row in the corner of the stadium.  It's hard to complain about free tickets, though, so we made the best of it.  The views really weren't all that bad and we did get to watch the Timberwolves win another game which is always fun.

Our favorite player, Anthony Edwards, was sitting this one out with a hip injury, but his teammates didn't miss a beat.   They won the game by a score of 101 to 90 and did so with authority.  Or Authoritah as they'd say it in South Park.  

On Saturday, Miss Sheri, Luke & I headed to Clear Lake, Iowa for a community celebration called Christmas by the Lake.  We met up with our old buddy, Krazy Kory, while we were there.  

There's a variety of activities throughout town, but we found ourselves quickly gravitating to the local VFW to play Bingo.  Because nothing says Christmas better than gambling and drinking  with a group of strangers.

One of my favorite things about Clear Lake is everywhere we go, we bump into old friends.  I want to high school with all of these crazy characters.  A fun fact is the 5 of us all lived within a couple of blocks from one another in 5 different houses.  We just randomly met up together when we suddenly realized that was the case.  It was a fun coincidence and  I laughed and laughed about it until I suddenly realized it wasn't that funny.  Probably the reason why I was the only one laughing.

Miss Sheri randomly ran into one of her old college friends who she hadn't seen in about 3 decades.  Christmas by the Lake attracts all sorts of cool people.

The parade started about 5pm and Krazy Kory's dad, son, and son's girlfriend helped lead the parade down the right path.  Glad they did otherwise a bunch of the floats might have ended up in the lake.  But if something needed to end up in the lake it's probably good it was things called floats.

Krazy Kory and I volunteered ourselves to be part of the Crowd Control team to prepare for the fireworks and keep people safe.  It's always a good thing for community festivals to put guys like us in positions of authority.

The parade was a bunch of fun.  Various people marching with vehicles pulling trailers of colorful displays decorated with Christmas Lights.  They're not really easy to capture good photos of though.

I kept checking on Miss Sheri and Luke to be sure they were OK.  They seemed happy to be there the whole night.

After the parade was completed, the fireworks were set to begin.  They do a real nice job putting on a show with a good variety of boomers, colorful rockets, and massive explosions to keep people on their toes.  Here's a video I shot of the evening and edited with a TikTok AutoCut:
@toddswank Christmas By The Lake! #christmasbythelake #christmas #clearlake #fireworks ♬ Lovin On Me - Jack Harlow

  On Sunday night we connected with our good friends, Ted & Marcia.  They invited us to join them for a Christmas Concert at their church.

The River Valley Church in Apple Valley held their second annual Christmas Spectacular which actually ended up being Spectacular.  Rare for that to be true, but they had a whole bunch of incredible singers,  a high quality production, and an inspirational message to get people in the mood for Christmas.  I hope everyone is getting in the spirit!