January 28, 2024

Dark Ice Can Be Dangerous


Dark Ice Can Be Dangerous
Todd Swank's Diary Update for January 28, 2024

It was a grandma filled weekend at the Swank Household.  Which is always a really good week in my book!

Miss Sheri's mother, Leona, came to spend the week with us and Grandma Linda came over for a visit.  Both ladies are doing very well all things considered.  We feel lucky we still get the opportunity to spend time with the both of them.

In between Grandma time I also had a visit from Krazy Kory.  He was in town for his company's kick-off meeting and was awarded membership into their 2023 President's Club.  I always knew that Krazy guy would amount to something in this lifetime.

On Wednesday night, I had the honor of celebrating the birthday of Doc Mike Vogt.  It was a bunch of fun spending time with his & Portia's friends and family.

On Saturday, we took out Grandma Leona to lunch with her grandsons, Luke & Avery.  It was her first time meeting Abby so that was a special treat as well.

For some reason our local Outback closed shop so I'm glad Texas Roadhouse opened up a few years ago.  The two restaurants seem to be similar, but Texas Roadhouse has some of the best dinner rolls I've ever tasted.  Mmmmm, Honey Butter!

After we visited at home for awhile, Avery & Abby decided to venture out on Prior Lake so I crashed their little party.

Growing up in Georgia, Abby had never walked on a frozen lake before.  She seemed pretty nervous at first, but Blue led the path for her to go on a new adventure.

I must admit, when I drove by the lake earlier, I was thinking it looked dangerous because it's so dark.  It's been an odd winter and pretty warm for the most part.  However we met some fisherman after arriving who told us it was "plenty thick"....at least 12 inches.  Avery saw one of their open holes and decided to reach in there and measure it for himself.  He verified it was at least a foot or maybe even more.  I took his word for it.  I didn't want to make my arm freezing cold!  Silly child.

January 21, 2024

A Visit to Oracle Headquarters in Austin, Texas


A Visit to Oracle Headquarters in Austin, Texas

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 21, 2024

We had an arctic chill coming to Minnesota so I thought it was a good idea to get out of Dodge for awhile.  Little did I know that the cold weather extended all the way down to my destination deep in the heart of Texas.  It was 23 degrees when I stepped off the plane which I found crazy.  I almost didn't even bring a coat, but am sure glad I did.  It was freezing everywhere!

I arrived in downtown Austin on Tuesday night and stayed there until Friday.  Although I did have one day where it was warm, it was pretty cold for the duration of my stay.  At least the pool and hot tub were still open and heated.  That doesn't happen in Minnesota in January.

I stayed at the Fairmont Austin.  It is one of Oracle's preferred hotels for their employees to stay and I found it to offer quite wonderful accommodations.  

The reason for my visit was for a quarterly business review with my team.  We decided to do it at Oracle's headquarters in Austin as our group is spread around the country living in Minnesota, Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, Georgia, and New York.  Texas seemed like a nice central meeting place for all of us.

This was my second visit to Oracle Austin, but my first since it was dubbed the new headquarters for the company after we moved our HQ from California a few years back.  I asked Chat GPT to give me a few facts about the Oracle campus and the F1 racecar sitting in the lobby and really liked what it came up with for me:  

Strutting into Oracle's Austin HQ for a redux rendezvous, it's like stepping into Tony Stark's living room—if he traded his Iron Man suits for cloud services and a caffeine addiction. Dropping a cool $110 mil back in 2018, Oracle didn't just build a campus; they built a techy playground where the Wi-Fi is as free-flowing as the artisan coffee. And smack dab in the lobby? A Red Bull F1 speed demon, lounging like it's waiting for a green light. This isn't just decor; it's a flex. Oracle's dalliance with the Red Bull Racing team isn't just a sponsorship—it's a high-octane marriage of tech and turbo, a testament to their 'speed or bust' philosophy. And the campus? It's not just eco-friendly; it's where Mother Nature and Silicon Valley had a love child, complete with a gym that could make a CrossFitter weep. This place isn't a mere office; it's where your laptop can bench more than you. Welcome to Oracle Austin—where work is fast, the code is furious, and the only thing not moving at lightning speed is your desire to leave.

I started working for Todd Johnson in July of last year, but this was my first time meeting him and most of the rest of my team in person.  Zoom is nice for getting to know one another, but nothing beats having the chance to spend time together face to face.  At least that's the way I feel.  My team may not agree with this sentiment as I have a tendency to spit a lot while I'm eating.

We had the chance to spend a few hours with Todd's bosses boss, Chris Gandolfo.  If you've heard about any Oracle success stories over the past couple of years with companies like nVidia, Uber, or Elon Musk's X.AI company, it was most likely an opportunity ran by Chris's org.  I enjoyed listening to tales from the whole team, but listening to some of the hunting stories by Todd and Chris made me feel like a boy among men.  All I'll say is if we ever have a zombie invasion, I'm going to Todd's house.  That guy would be an incredible survivalist based on some of the things he's done.

Speaking of hunting, we had a meat feast at Salt Lick which is one of the more famous BBQ joints in Austin.  It was all pretty good, but I most enjoyed the sausages.  The brisket was pretty good as well, but I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the Bison Ribs.  A little too gamey for me.

Breyon Jones has been my mentor since I returned to Oracle in April of 2022.  In addition to be an incredible enterprise salesman whom with I enjoy collaborating, he's also one of the greatest football minds I've ever met.  My NFL picks have greatly improved since I've started taking his advice.

He also introduced me to a new drink.  The Carajillo!
@toddswank Having a Carajillo with my good friend Breyon at Estancia in Austin, Texas. #carajillo #estancia #brazilian #licor43 ♬ original sound - Todd Swank

When I came back home to Minnesota, we had the honor of taking out the kids and Abby to celebrate her birthday.  Her birthday was actually a week and a half ago, but her and Avery were in Hawaii so we couldn't celebrate it together.  Poor kids.

Hawaii is nice and all, but there's no way it could compare to a hibachi chef at Benihana shooting green lasers out of his mouth onto simmering vegetables!  Right?

January 14, 2024

Back with the Pack


Back with the Pack
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 14, 2024

Miss Sheri got wonderful news this week when she received the final pathology report from her surgery. It confirmed the cancer was confined to the uterus and there were no signs that it had spread.  A 0.3 cm tumor was found, was caught very early, and they now consider her a low risk patient.  She is slowly recovering from the procedure, but she seems to be feeling a little better every day.  Thanks again for all the prayers and kind words throughout this ordeal.  We feel very blessed!!

I had the opportunity to go and visit with Grandma Linda to teach her how to do something on the computer.  That's always a special and fun experience!

On Friday night we thought it was time to get Sheri out of the house and out in to a huge crowd of people.  So we decided on seeing a Timberwolves game at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Minnesota has been having arguably the best season of their existence.  They were 25 and 11 when the game started and standing atop the Western Conference.  We sat through a lot of bad basketball with this team over the years, so it feels good to go see some incredible wins for a change.  Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards are definitely among the reasons that is happening.

Karl Anthony Towns is another.  They also have a great core of role players and a deep bench.  It seems like all the pieces are in place for a serious playoff run.  That would be a nice reward for almost three decades of being loyal fans.

Back when Karl was a rookie, we sat in front of his dad Karl Senior during one of his first games.  It was pretty funny hearing him root on his son and curse the refs and opposing players.  He pretty much always sits courtside now, but we still like to pay attention to him to see what kind of shenanigans he gets himself into.  We saw him talking to this big guy in the black sweater, but couldn't figure out who it was.

Turns out it was former Minnesota Vikings Tight End, Kyle Rudolph!  I tried to get Kyle to smile for the camera, but this was the best he'd offer me.

Pretty soon the lights went out and the opening ceremonies commenced.  It was time for the Wolves to Howl!

The game started out with an overwhelming performance by the Minnesota big men Rudy and Karl.  They led the team to a big lead right out of the chute and the 1st quarter ended with the home team up by a score of 36-15.  They never really looked back and controlled the game with a comfortable lead the rest of the way.

I was able to achieve my goal to get our picture up on the big screen during one of the time-outs.  After that happened, we figured we might as well go home for the night.

Miss Sheri wanted to leave a bit early so she didn't have to wrestle with the crowd on the way out.  I was fine with it and the Wolves went on to win by a score of 116 - 93.  It was good to be Back with the Pack!

January 7, 2024

Riding a Vikings Voyage to Nowhere

Riding a Vikings Voyage to Nowhere
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 7, 2024

Miss Sheri had her surgery for endometrial cancer on Thursday and all indications are it went really well.  The lead surgeon told us that the tumor was so small they had trouble finding it in her uterus after it was removed.  There are no indications that the cancer has spread, although we still have to wait until Tuesday to get the final pathology report for confirmation.  Although we're not completely out of the woods yet, we feel very blessed for where things stand at this point.  We so appreciate all of you who've been praying for her!

A few days before the surgery we had the opportunity to spend New Year's Eve at US Bank Stadium watching the Minnesota Vikings hosting the Green Bay Packers.  The Vikings season had been skidding to a halt the previous few weeks as our carousel of back-up quarterbacks all seemed to be competing for who could get the most interceptions and our defense started showing more holes than a pair of jeans in a teen fashion show.  But we were ready to cheer regardless!

Before the game, we stumbled upon Tony Dungy and some friends doing Football Night in America outside the stadium.  He used to be the defensive coordinator for the Vikings and played for the Minnesota Gophers before that.  I yelled out his name but I don't know if he remembers me from previous times I'd yelled at him from a crowd of people.   

I was excited to see Minnesota's rookie quarterback, Jaren Hall, start the game.  He only lasted a half finishing 5 of 10 for 67 yards, zero touchdowns, an interception, a lost fumble, and was sacked three times.  Unfortunately he didn't do any better than Joshua Dobbs or Nick Mullens did before him.  It made for a painful way to bring in the new year.

I've always liked Kirk Cousins, but there's plenty of people who don't.  I'm hoping the Vikings now see what life will be like without him and re-sign him this summer as well as draft our quarterback of the future.  The last half of this season has been pretty painful to endure.

Of course, the Packers new quarterback, Jordan Love, threw 3 touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 33-10 victory over the home team.  I swear if Love becomes the Packers third hall-of-fame quarterback in a row I'm going to give up on the NFL and start watching professional hide and seek tournaments instead.

We didn't get out of the game until after 10pm, but we did have the chance to stop by Karl & Tina's house to join them and their neighbors.  We did the countdown and rang in the new year together.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a good feeling that 2024 is going to be an awesome year!!

January 1, 2024

Ready For Battle in 2024


Ready For Battle in 2024
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for January 1, 2024

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you know my family has had our share of health challenges. Throughout it all, Miss Sheri has been our rock and took care of all of us through each ordeal. This time, she’s the one for whom we’re requesting prayers & positive energy be sent her way. 

A few days before Christmas she was diagnosed with grade 2 endometrial cancer. She’ll be undergoing surgery at Mayo Clinic this Thursday and we’re asking for prayers for a successful procedure and to help guide the doctors to remove all the bad cells from her body.  

Thanks for your help with this request.  It’s helped the rest of us get to where we are today and we’re looking forward for it to do the same for our beloved wife and mother.
We're ready for battle and for 2024 to be a great year for all of us!

About an hour before we received the news with Miss Sheri's diagnosis, this guy landed in a tree across the street from our house which we'd never seen before.  In hindsight I'm taking it as a sign that God is watching over us, we got this, and some day we'll look back at this experience as just another bump in the road.  

The kids were at our house ready to open Christmas presents when she received the call from the doctor.  It was a shock for all of us, but we still made the best of it.

My wife knows me pretty well when it comes to what to give me for Christmas presents!

The Minnesota Vikings played against the Detroit Lions on Christmas eve day.  Luke joined me for the game and spending time with him was a way better experience than watching the competition on the field.  It just wasn't the Vikings year.

Of course any year we don't make the playoffs, there's always opportunities to make excuses.  We just couldn't ever really recover from the injury to Kirk Cousins which was nicely represented with this picture of our starting quarterback Nick Mullens giving a handoff to our starting running back Ty Chandler.  
Next year's going to be better!

We spent a couple of days over Christmas visiting the farm and hanging out with Grandma Leona and Uncle Jerry's family.  We always have a bunch of fun with them!

Of course we sought out new experiences over the holidays as well, including seeing a Terry Fator Christmas at Mystic Lake Casino.  He's the best ventriloquist I've ever seen!  Probably also the only ventriloquist I've ever seen...

We were lucky enough to hook up with several friends including Sue & Ron Korkowski at Union Rooftop in Minneapolis.  What a fun restaurant!

We ate dinner and then walked over to the Orpheum for a night of theater.  We were going to see Mrs. Doubtfire!

I was always a big Robin Williams fan and loved this movie when it came out, so I was curious if the play would be able to re-create that magic.  I'm pleased to say it really did.  It was a musical so there were a lot more song and dance acts then in the film.  But they were fun and the lead actor did a great job paying homage to Mr. Williams without trying to replicate that which made him so unique.

Krazy Kory came to town for an evening and we met up with him at the Mall of America for dinner.  That was a fun time.

Kory's daughter and her friend had an incredible experience making pottery as part of a class they took with one of my oldest friends, Holly Bozaich.  Holly and I first met about 40 years ago when I went to elementary school at Jefferson in Mason City, Iowa.  She started her new business, Pottery by Holly, in an amazing studio she built in her basement.  If you feel like getting creative, you should check out what she has to offer!

This past weekend, the fun continued when we went out with Jen and Dan Walters on Friday night.  We had dinner together and then went and sang the night away doing karaoke at the American Legion in Shakopee.  

On Saturday night we went out with the Korkowskis again and had dinner at the Prior Lake Horse and Hunt Club.  It's always fun eating when it looks like you're going to have to fight off the animals sitting around you.

After dinner, we watched a comedy show upstairs and it was pretty hilarious.  The headliner was a guy named Mike Brody who was very funny.  I surprised him when he started talking to me in the crowd and I told him I grew up in Mason City, Iowa.  He was from there as well and told stories about his experiences living in North Iowa of which I could really relate.  I hope to get the chance to see him perform again sometime!

Todd Swank TikTok Videos

@toddswank A Very Terry Christmas - Terry Fator performs at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota. #terryfator #ventriloquist #puppet #christmas ♬ original sound - Todd Swank
@toddswank AI Sets Us Free in 2024. Song by Suno.ai. Pictures by Dall-e-3. Creative Prompting by Todd Swank. #aisong #2024 #future #sunoai #dalle3 #swank ♬ original sound - Todd Swank