April 30, 2023

The 2023 Vikings NFL Draft Party


The 2023 Vikings NFL Draft Party
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 30, 2023

On Thursday night we headed to downtown Minneapolis and US Bank Stadium for the Vikings 2023 NFL Draft Party.

This is our 2nd year in a row going to the event.  Last year they had a big stage with local sports celebrities doing a live play by play of the NFL draft.  This year they skipped the stage and local celebrities and just showed the draft on the big screens.  Still fun, but not quite as fun.

They did have local media reporting from the event, but none of the local broadcasts were played for the crowd here for some silly reason.  I guess they wanted us focused on the national program out of Kansas City.  I kind of thought we could have just done that from home, but guess we would have missed out on the Vikings stadium atmosphere.

We did get photo opps with several team members including our potential #1 running back, Alexander Mattison.  Technically we still have our previous #1 running back, Dalvin Cook, but all indications are he'll be traded before the start of the new season.  I tried to get Alexander to give us some inside scoop, but he just shuffled us along for the next people to get a photo with him.

Harrison "Horrible Harry" Phillips is a defensive lineman with the team and also a really cuddly sort of fellow.

Ty Chandler is another running back with the team although we didn't get to see him play much as he was injured early in his rookie season.  Before that he showed a lot of flash, so hopefully we'll get to see him shine this coming season.

I saw our starting left tackle, Christian Darrisaw, playing Xbox with some fans.  I thought about trying to get a picture with him but he gave me a look like I probably shouldn't interrupt his game.  So I stepped aside and took this picture instead.  It's nice also.

I saw Purple Spiderman nearby so asked him to take a picture with me instead.  Unlike Darrisaw, he was quite happy for the opportunity to join me.  

We had the chance to take a tour of the Vikings locker-room which was fun, but pretty empty since it's the off season.  They had a couple lockers made up to look like they were Justin Jefferson's and Harrison Smith's.  I didn't see any unmentionables in either one of them so it just didn't feel like the real thing.

@toddswank With the #1.pick, the Vikings select…. #nfldraft #nfldraft2023 #minnesota #vikings ♬ Heart on my sleeve the wizard remix - The Wizard

 Other highlights of the week included dinner with Tim Ashland at Charlie's on Prior.  We used to connect with Tim all the time back in the day and have vowed to start adding that back into our lives on a regular basis.  He's always a bunch of fun to see.

Our daily dog walks are starting to get more exciting as Spring slowly emerges in Minnesota.  We snuck up on this osprey high on a perch hunting for fish near the shore of Prior Lake.  I was surprised how close he let me get and I snapped some really clear pictures.  This one was my favorite.

We zoomed in on this eagle at the edge of the creek that runs between Spring Lake and Prior Lake.  We figured he was eating something, but couldn't see the big carp he was grasping until we had a chance to look at the pictures up close.  Pretty cool.

About a week ago, we saw a large flock of pelicans land on Prior Lake, but it was too dark to get a decent photo of them.  Luckily, we've had a couple more encounters since.  We've never seen pelicans on Prior lake before so we figured they just must be passing through the area.

Another pleasant surprise we discovered when going through the photos was this carp that popped his head out of the water while I was snapping shots of the birds.  I didn't even notice it at the time.  Apparently the pelicans didn't either as I'm sure they would have swallowed him whole if they had.

April 23, 2023

A Stroll Down Memory Lane in Clear Lake, Iowa


A Stroll Down Memory Lane in Clear Lake, Iowa
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 23. 2023

I've been fascinated with all things AI lately.  This week I paid $12 bucks to an app called Lensa which provides you 100 AI generated photos of a person after you upload 10-20 selfies.  A lot of the ones it produced are crap, but these were a few of my favorites.  These tools are just so amazing!

On Wednesday night, we had the opportunity to meet up with Jeff and Cathy at Rudy's Red Eye in Lakeville.  It's always nice catching up with them.

On Friday we traveled down to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Memorial for Betty Sherman.  She was an incredible lady.  I went to high school with her son, John, but had known her long before I met him. Their family owned the local movie theater and I used to go there with my dad when I was a kid.  Betty was always so nice to my dad and I and judging by the crowd at her memorial, we weren't the only ones.  The family did an awesome job at the service.  The photos they showed took me for a nice stroll down memory lane and the eulogies didn't leave a dry eye in the house.  Rest in Peace, Betty.

Although it's always sad at these events, it's also fun to see old friends.  Krazy Kory & Jason Davis were there and we had a good time hanging out together for a few hours.

Brian used to work at Oak Hills Golf Course and we spent many days together with plenty of laughs.  

We'd just seen Chad and Riann in Arizona a couple months back, but it had been years since we've seen Tom Whelan.  

There were a few of us there from the class of 1988, but many more from the class of 1987.  A good crew.

We had to get back to the Twin Cities in time to see Game 3 of the Playoff matchup between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets.

The home team decided to have a "White-Out" event and gave everyone free t-shirts and then berated people until they wore them.  We were happy to oblige.

I think the shirts helped get us on the big screen again, but I can't be completely sure about that.

The first two games of the series didn't go the way the Wolves had hoped.  They got blown out in Game 1, had a nice comeback and lead in Game 2, but eventually gave that up for their second loss.  They were going to need to get a win tonight to have any kind of chance for a competitive series.

Of course when you're going up against the NBA's Reigning MVP in Nicola Jokic, that's easier said than done.

I had a bit of a mishap when the players were being announced.  The entire crowd stands up for introductions and I was on the aisle seat.  Apparently the rubber seam they use to connect the bleachers together was failing and I just happened to stand directly on it.  The seam collapsed underneath me and my leg dropped into the hole all the way down to my thigh.  It was surprising and a bit painful, but even more embarrassing when I realized I couldn't get loose.  Miss Sheri had to grab one arm and a kind stranger took the other and they lifted me out of it.  We told an usher about it and they replaced the seam with another one that looked just as crappy, but I managed to avoid standing on it again for the rest of the night.

The Timberwolves played a decent game and kept it competitive.  They ended the first quarter in a tie, but it mainly went downhill from there.

Jokic had a triple double and the Nuggets beat the home team by a score of 120 to 111.  They now lead the series 3 to 0 and it's not looking good for our Timberwolves.  In the history of the NBA, no team has ever comeback from a 3 to 0 deficit and I don't foresee the Wolves being the first.

  We'll see what they can do this summer to make improvements.  Last summer they bet their entire future by trading 5 first round picks plus some other assets to get Rudy Gobert in a trade.  I don't believe they'll do anything that crazy again, but we'll see.  This team has always been full of surprises.

With Minnesota's luck, the surprise will probably be Anthony Edwards saying he doesn't want to play with us any more which would really suck.  Let's hope that's not the case and next year will be our year!

@toddswank The Timberwolves lose Game 3 of the NBA playoffs to the Nuggets. Better luck next year! #nba #timberwolves #nuggets #minnesota #denver ♬ This Is a Work of Art (Sketchy) - Dubskie

The Timberwolves lose Game 3 of the NBA playoffs to the Nuggets. Better luck next year! #nba #timberwolves #nuggets #minnesota #denver


April 16, 2023

The Timberwolves are in the NBA Playoffs!


The Timberwolves are in the NBA Playoffs!

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 16, 2023

It was an exciting week at our house babysitting Blue's mother & brother.  The weather warmed into the eighties, so we couldn't pass up the chance to walk them every day.  Miss Sheri did state that 3 golden retrievers is quite a bit more challenging than 1, especially when stray dogs wander into the picture.  She's hoping to get that arm back into it's socket any day now.

The warm weather did allow the ice to finally exit Prior Lake, although I am disappointed the lake levels didn't get much higher with all that snow.  That big rock in the background used to be mostly underwater a few years ago, so we have a long ways to go to get things back to normal.   I'm nervous we'll have challenges come boating season.

The bald eagles seem to enjoy the shallower water as we've seen them hanging out near our house more than normal.  The spawning fish must be real easy targets given the fact that their stream is about a quarter of the size it used to be.

I lamented the fact last week that we went looking for trumpeter swans and couldn't find any.  I was excited to see these two this week so naturally had to disturb their little party.   I'm sure they didn't mind.

There's a lot of debate about working from home vs returning to the office.  I hooked up with several of my old Oracle co-workers on Thursday.  I've been working from home for several years now, but when I did go downtown to the office I had the good fortune to hang out with these amazing people every day.  It does make me miss the good times we had in the office, although I still don't miss that commute!

On Friday night, we went to watch the Timberwolves Play-In game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Avery had a conflict so our good friend, Karl, volunteered to take his place.  We were very happy to have him along for the ride.

The team gave away glow sticks to everyone in the crowd which made for an interesting scene when the lights were turned out.  It kind of had a Disco feel to it.

The Wolves had a tough time against the Lakers earlier in the week, but we were hopeful Anthony Edwards and team were ready to get the win and in to the playoffs.  

Karl Anthony Towns had missed several months of the season due to injury, but has looked really good since his return.

Alex Rodriguez is in the process of buying the Timberwolves so we get the opportunity to see him quite often.  He's such a stud.  I'm hopeful he and his partner Mark Lore will bring a winning environment to this team.  God knows we've been waiting a long time for it.

One of our favorite Minnesota Vikings, Adam Thielen, was in attendance in the front row near our section.  Unfortunately he was released this off season and is going to be playing for the Carolina Panthers next year.  It's a bummer for us, but still cool to see him at the game.

We had some drama on the team this past week when Rudy Gobert punched his team-mate, Kyle Anderson, during a time-out and ended up suspended for the Lakers game.  They seem to have buried the hatchet, though, and walked around together much of this game holding hands.

The home team was firing on all cylinders and seemed to control the game for most of the night.  They went into half-time with a 10 point lead.

We were thrilled at half time to see Christian Stoinev & Scooby perform.  They were finalists on America's Got talent back in 2014 and we rooted them on back then.  Christian is an acrobat and Scooby basically rides him around while he does his tricks.  Sadly, Scooby is looking like he's getting pretty old and it's becoming evident he won't be able to continue doing this a whole lot longer.  I'm glad we had the chance to see him before he retires.

The Timberwolves dominated the rest of the game and finished with a final score of 120 to 95 and will now take on the West's #1 seed Denver Nuggets.  Let's go, Timberwolves!!
@toddswank This AI Bot has a secret plan to wipe out humans! #ai #chatgpt #openai #chaosgpt #artificialintelligence ♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box - takaya

I've been fascinated with Artificial Intelligence and all the new tools that are being released.  I heard about a new tool called Chaos-GPT this week which is pretty crazy and pretty scary.  I'm not sure where we're going to end up with capabilities like these available to the masses.  However, technology has been good to me my entire life so I'm counting on this wave of innovation to be a net positive for us also. 

April 9, 2023

15 Glorious Minutes on Cocoa Beach

15 Glorious Minutes on Cocoa Beach

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 9, 2023

My job brought me to Cocoa beach, Florida this week.  I was in town for less than 24 hours, but I figured that I couldn't visit the town without taking a walk down to the beach.  When I left Minnesota it was 39 degrees and when I arrived in Florida it was 89 degrees.  I only had about 15 minutes to actually be here, but it was a glorious time while I was there.  I'm pretty sick of Minnesota's winter.

I had dinner with my manager, Jeremiah, and my customer, Troy, at Florida's Fresh Grill.  Troy lives in Cocoa Beach thus the reason for our visit.  I've never seen Troy wear anything other than a Hawaiian shirt in the year or so I've bene working with him  After spending the day here, I'm starting to realize that's a lifestyle I could really find myself getting behind.

I would have loved the opportunity to visit Kennedy Space Center while I was here, but didn't have the time.  At least my hotel had this guy in the lobby which gave me a little taste of what the experience would have been like.

After I arrived home Wednesday evening, we headed to downtown Minneapolis to make a special visit to Target Center.  It's playoff time and they had an open house to entice us into buying season tickets for next year.  They gave us the opportunity to shoot some free throws on the court and do a behind the scenes tour.  I didn't do so hot with the couple of shots I took which now makes me feel bad for all the times I've criticized my favorite players for missing too many simple free throws!

The kids joined us for the festivities.  It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours on an otherwise boring Wednesday night. 
@toddswank Target Center Ceilings #targetcenter #minnesota #timeberwolves #nba #ceilings #ceilingstrend ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

I tried to act out a recent TikTok trend on a whim while standing on center court.  One of these days I'll realize I'm not a teenaged girl, but until then I'll keep making these silly videos.


We bought tickets for the Timberwolves Play-In game, but since they won today they'll be traveling to play the Los Angeles Lakers instead.  If they win that game, they'll be in the playoffs and if they lose, they'll host a game here again on Friday.   

Let's go Timberwolves!!

We enjoyed spending some time in the player's locker-room.  It's a familiar site as we've watched many players being interviewed in here after games.  We even got to see where the players take their showers, but were discouraged by the staff from actually taking a shower while we were there.  I guess they have their rules.

We're babysitting Blue's mother and brother this week so we have golden retrievers galore all around us currently.

Mother Nature finally decided to stop messing with us and we saw temperatures creeping into the sixties this weekend.  We figured we'd better go see some nature while we had the chance.

We went down to the Landing in Shakopee because normally we see trumpeter swans in this area.  They've either left or haven't arrived yet.  The water seemed awfully lonely without them.  We'll try again in a week or two to see if we have better luck.

We did see this duck which I can't remember seeing before.  I looked online and it might be a muscovy duck, but I'm not sure.  Maybe one of you could help me to identify it?

We had a pleasant Easter Brunch this morning with Grandma Linda and Mike.  We hadn't been out with them for quite awhile, so it was nice to have this opportunity.  I hope you all had an incredible Easter holiday celebration!!