July 30, 2023

Minnesota Vikings 2023 Training Camp


Minnesota Vikings 2023 Training Camp

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 30, 2023

I was happy to learn this week that one of my former co-workers has moved back to the Twin Cities.  Sara and I spent 2 years working together when I first joined Oracle and I haven't seen her since.  We had lunch together at Edelweiss Bakery and reminisced about the Good Ole Days.  It was a great time!

On Friday night, Miss Sheri and I headed to Mystic Lake Casino for the Great Midwest Ribfest.  

It's basically a bunch of food trucks and booths all selling delicious BBQ ribs, chicken, brisket, and a variety of other treats.  

It was very tasty.

We sat in the stands and were treated to the musical stylings of the Fray.  They have a bunch of great songs including You Found Me and How To Save a Life.  We had fun singing along into the evening.

Here's a couple videos I shot of the event:

@toddswank Great Midwest Ribfest at Mystic Lake Casino with The Fray. #greatmidwestribfest #mysticlake #thefray ♬ How You Like That - BLACKPINK
@toddswank The Fray playing at The Great Midwest Ribfest at Mystic Lake Casino. #thefray #mysticlake #midwestribfest ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

On Saturday, we headed to TCO Performance Center in Eagan to watch the Minnesota Vikings practice at training camp.  Avery had a conflict, but our old buddy, Orlando, was happy to step into his place and join us.

Since we're season ticket holders, the Minnesota Vikings were kind enough to give us free passes to the Vikings Museum.  It was fun to see Viking legends from years past, but we kept asking everyone....Hey, where are all the Super Bowl Trophies?  That room must still be being built.

They had a nice homage to the Minneapolis Miracle.  This play helped the Vikings advance to the NFC Championship, but then they lost to the Eagles.  Great memory, though.

The Purple People Eaters were a bit before my time of being a Minnesota Vikings fan, but I certainly remember them.  We could use these guys back on the team again this year!

We stepped outside again and bumped into some old friends.  I mean young friends.

Eventually we made our way to our seats and were excited to sit down and watch some practice!  We're all getting pretty hungry to be able to watch football again.

The Vikings lost a lot of big name players this past off-season, but we're all pretty pumped to still have Justin Jefferson on our team.  He just had the rare achievement of earning a 99 rating in Madden Football!  I don't think any of those Purple People Eaters ever did that.

If you haven't watched the Netflix series Quarterback, please take the time to do that.  Our man, Kirk Cousins, is the most under-rated quarterback in the NFL and that show helped people to understand exactly why that is.  He's a really good person, father, and leader and I really hope this year he gets the chance to have the kind of success he deserves.

One of the men who is going to help him do that is our starting tight end, TJ Hockenson.  He's such a stud.  The Detroit Lions traded him to us in the middle of the season last year for some reason.  I have no clue why they made a move like that, but I'm certainly glad they did.

Our 2nd year coach, Kevin O'Connell, seems to be very relaxed when working with players and seems to be a positive influence all the way around.  Hopefully he can repeat the kind of season he had last year.

It's very early in Training Camp so there was hardly any contact.  Kind of tough to judge players when they're basically just going through the motions, but it was nice to get a taste of football again.  Do You Like That?

Here's couple videos I shot from Training Camp: 
@toddswank Vikings Training Camp. #vikings #minnesota #nfl #trainingcamp ♬ Barbie World (with Aqua) [From Barbie The Album] - Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice & Aqua
@toddswank Justin Jefferson Warming Up. #minnesota #vikings #trainingcamp #nfl ♬ When Doves Cry - Prince

July 23, 2023

A Medical Pitstop in the Race of Life


A Medical Pitstop in the Race of Life

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 23, 2023

We spent a couple days at Mayo Clinic this week.  Avery was due for his first cardiology checkup in three years.  I'm pleased to say that his visit went really well and his heart looks about as good as it could.  We learned he may need some work on a leaky valve in 20-30 years, but for the most part his heart is as healthy as any other 24 year old.  Which we love to hear!  It was really good to see Dr. Johnson's face for the first time in about 4 years since Mayo finally dropped their mask requirements.  His smile looks just as nice as I remembered it.

Unfortunately the news wasn't quite as good for me.  Since my sons were both born with congenital heart defects, I've always meant to get an eval on my own ticker.  I just never made the time to do it.  Over the past few months, I've been experiencing a lack of stamina & shortness of breath while exercising so thought it was time.  I scheduled an appointment with the Mayo cardiology team and went in for some tests.  They discovered I have an irregular heartbeat called an Atrial Flutter which means that the upper chambers of my heart are currently running at about 250bpm while the lower chambers are at about 90bpm.  That ain't good.  I need to go back to Mayo in a few weeks to have a procedure called Cardioversion. Basically they will put me to sleep, connect me to some battery cables, and jump start my heart back to normal.  I also need to make some lifestyle changes which ought to be a bunch of fun.  I'll keep you all posted on my progress.  

On Thursday I celebrated my 53rd birthday with my family.  I really like these people so was happy they agreed to join me for the fun.

We laid low this weekend and pretty much only left the house for a couple walks at the dog park.  We like to stay busy so I look forward to getting my health back in line so we can start getting wild and crazy again real soon.  Have a great week, everyone!

July 16, 2023

The Netflix Quarterback Premiere at TCO Stadium


The Netflix Quarterback Premiere at TCO Stadium
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 16, 2023

On Sunday we went to Como Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul.  We like to see the animals, flowers, and the nude statues ready to skinny dip in the black water.

Luke & Avery joined us for the visit.  They like to hang out with us unless something better comes up with virtually anybody else.

I remember a time when the polar bears were stuck in a tiny cage where they walked and swam in the same circle countless times every day.  Now they have a much bigger cage, but I have my doubts whether or not that original insanity they carried has gone away.  So probably not a good idea to go in there with them.

I this tall!

On Tuesday night, Luke, Miss Sheri and I headed to TCO Stadium in Eagan, Minnesota which is the main practice facility for the Minnesota Vikings.

We were there for the premier of the new Netflix series Quarterback which stars Patrick Mahomes, Marcus Mariota, and the Vikings own Kirk Cousins.

The evening started with a trivia contest and then we all went onto one of the practice fields to watch the show.  It's pretty awesome and shows Kirk in a light I don't think a lot of fans have seen him in before.  Unfortunately, Kirk was in Los Angeles for the premier but he did record a nice intro for the hometown fans as can be seen here:

@toddswank Kirk Cousins introduces TCO Stafium to the Premiere of Netflix show “Quarterback”. #quarterback #kirkcousins #minnesota #vikings #netflix #Premiere ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

On Thursday night, we had one of our Prior Lake Empty Nester get togethers.  The crowd was lighter than the past couple of months, but I guess that can be expected in July.  Those of who did attend had a wonderful evening of laughter and clever repartee.

On Friday night, we headed to Lakefront Park in Prior Lake for Lakefront Music Fest.

We were joined by our good friends, The Korkowski Family.  The night started a little bumpy when a thunderstorm rolled through the area, but the skies cleared up and it ended up being a beautiful evening.

REO Speedwagon was up first and rocked us with classic tunes including Can't Fight This Feeling, Ridin' the Storm Out, and Keep On Loving You.  They reminded me of my childhood when I used to put on my roller skates and speed around the rink while gyrating my hips to these incredible songs.

This weekend concert has been going for 14 years and we've been to most of them.  Every year it feels like the crowd gets bigger and my claustrophobia gets worse. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd were the headliners for the evening and rocked us all night with songs like That Smell, Simple Man, Sweet Home Alabama, and Free Bird.  I burned out a lot of 8 Track players listening to these jams back in the day.

These guys sounded awesome even though sadly not a single original member of the band is still alive today.  That's becoming a more consistent theme as we go to see beloved bands from our childhood, but I'm not going to think about those implications regarding my own age and expected mortality.

Luke and Avery celebrated their 24th birthday all weekend so it wasn't until today that we were able to join them for the party.  Of course we had to go to Benihana to do it up right.  

Happy Birthday, boys!

July 9, 2023

The 4th of July in Clear Lake, Iowa


The 4th of July in Clear Lake, Iowa

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for July 9, 2023

On Sunday, we headed down to Clear Lake, Iowa  to spend the 4th of July holiday in the town where I went to high school.

 Luke joined Miss Sheri and I for the trip and we connected with Krazy Kory and Harli for a couple nights of fun.

Avery's girlfriend, Abby, is a flight attendant so he jets off with her on a pretty regular basis.  He's been all over the country the past couple of months, so we don't get to see him as much as we used to.  They spent the holiday in Washington state.  Unlike my son, Abby likes to post pictures as much as I do so at least I can get a glimpse into their adventures.   

We headed to the Surf Ballroom for a concert.  The Surf is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this year which is a pretty amazing achievement.  For such a small town in Iowa, this place has had so many music legends play on it's stage it's pretty incredible.

We were there to watch the Guess Who play some classic rock from the seventies.  The drummer Garry Peterson is the only original member of the band still playing with them, but the current members  play all their hits the same way I remember them from my childhood so it was still awesome.

I really enjoyed the concert.  They have a lot of classics I remembered from being a kid.  Undun, American Woman, No Sugar Tonight, and several others kept us rocking all night long!

Not a lot of guys can make playing a flute seem cool, but Leonard Shaw blew me away in more ways than one.

When we weren't rushing the stage to jam with the band, we were out in the crowd having a good time meeting up with old friends.  

Here's some videos I shot of the band playing:

@toddswank The Guess Who Live at the Surf Ballroom on July 2, 2023. #TheGuessWho #TheSurf #ClearLake #AmericanWoman #Undun ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank The Guess Who. No Sugar Tonight. Live st the Surf Ballroom. July 2, 2023 #theguesswho #thesurfballroom #thesurf #nosugartonight #4thofjuly ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank The Guess Who sing These Eyes at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. #theguesswho #theseeyes #surfballroom #clearlake ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

 We spent a lot of time visiting the carnival while we were there.  It's a classic 4th of July tradition for Clear Lake.

Hitting the Bingo tent is a popular destination for us.  We actually even won some money this year which is a nice change of pace.

On Monday, we went golfing at Oak Hills which was about as busy as I've ever seen it.  We'd planned to play 18 holes, but ended up only doing 9 because of the crowds.

Uncle Jerry was in town for the holiday so he joined us for the game.  It's always good to catch up with uncle Jerry!

The 4th of July Parade is another favorite tradition where we like to participate.  Typically we watch farther up on Main Street, but this year we thought it would be fun to watch from town.

This is another great opportunity to see old friends like the Anderson Family.

Since Iowa is traditionally first to select presidential candidates, we're used to seeing some come for the event.  We'd heard that none showed this year, but were pleasantly surprised when Asa Hutchinson suddenly appeared and gave us a wave.  Best of luck to you, Asa!

I'm assuming these planes were a planned part of the event otherwise it was a pretty wild coincidence that they all flew over us at the same time.

On Friday night, we had the opportunity to see Jason Hornbuckle and Jen.  They've been living in Arizona for the past couple of years, but came back to Minnesota for a visit.  It's always good to see these crazy kids!

Since we just officially passed the halfway point of the year, I thought it would be fun to make this video:

@toddswank I’m a lucky ShortArmGuy. #shortarmguy #toddswank #lucky #bodypositivity ♬ original sound - Todd Swank