March 31, 2024

Happy Easter 2024


Happy Easter 2024
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 31, 2024

Ever since Miss Sheri's surgery in January, our neighbor has been taking Blue for long walks in the neighborhood along with her dogs who also happen to be his mother and brother.  This week she brought new outfits for their journeys.  They're such good puppies.

When I first started working at Oracle in 2015, we had two large offices in Minnesota housing hundreds of employees.  When I returned to the company after Covid in 2022, I learned that both of those offices had been permanently closed.  It's nice to work from home, but you do miss those water cooler type of conversations with co-workers.  I volunteered to be an Oracle Cultural Ambassador for Minnesota and we hosted our first Happy Hour this week at The Loop in Minneapolis.  We had a pretty good turnout with 9 people for our first event and it was a bunch of fun connecting with fellow employees from different parts of the organization.

On Friday night we hooked up with our old buddies, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz, at Giuseppe's Italian restaurant in Burnsville.  Mmmmm.  Spicy Sausage Pasta. 

On Saturday, we drove 8 hours to the farm and back to visit Miss Sheri's family for Easter.  Abby had never been to Iowa before which is pretty crazy considering she's been to like 46 other states in her career as a flight attendant.  I think she was pretty impressed with the Hawkeye state.  I mean how couldn't you be?

It was so nice to see Grandma Leona, Jerry, Laura, & Karli even though it was for only a short time.  We always have a bunch of fun when we're together.

I'd intended this to me my top photo for my blog post this week, but liked what Chat GPT gave me instead.  I asked for a photo to best represent a great Easter in 2024 & found the result to be pretty neat.

For Easter Sunday we thought it would be fun to attend Avery & Abby's church which is Eagle Brook in Apple Valley.  We were pretty impressed.

They have a beautiful building, a great auditorium, the music was very well done, and it was one of the most inspirational sermons I've been to in a long time.  I was really happy with the place and it made for a great Easter Celebration!!

Grandma Linda joined us for brunch at the Crooked Pint in Apple Valley.  It was the perfect way to finish Easter!  Good food and good times with family.  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter as well!!

March 24, 2024

The Valspar Golf Tournament in Tampa Bay


The Valspar Golf Tournament in Tampa Bay

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 24, 2024

I went to Tampa Bay for a couple of nights this week.  It's a lot more green than what it looks like in Minnesota currently.

I stayed at a hotel called the Current.  I like to be on the beach whenever I get a chance.  Even though I ended up working in my room most of the time I was there, it was still nice to walk in the sand for a while.

I arrived a couple hours before my room was ready, but I heard a brand new rooftop restaurant had opened called Casa Cami.  They had good flautas and fries.  The view was pretty awesome as well.  

The hotel has a little private beach and I was surprised to see it was almost empty.  I figured work could wait a few minutes while I went down to check it out for awhile.

I was so excited walking up on a couple of horseshoe crabs laying in the sand.  My excitement quickly waned when I noticed neither one of them moved even a little.  I flipped the big guy over and discovered their shoeing horses days were over.  That made me sad.

The reason for my trip was to attend the first day of the Valspar Golf Tournament.  It's held at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course and is billed as the most colorful PGA TOUR® event. Honestly I think they say that because it's sponsored by a paint company. I looked around and it looked to be the same colors as any other golf tournaments I've attended.

I went to the tournament to host my customer, Troy. Troy is always very easy to find in a crowded room. Between us is my co-worker, Michele, who coordinated this amazing event for us.

We were in the Snake Pit Club which overlooks the 18th Tee. It's really tempting to yell out the word "Noonan" during the golfer's backswing, but I contained myself as I'm sure that wouldn't come across as being very professional.

We also were able to sit right next to the 17th green. It's always amazing watching professionals play and witness some of the incredible shots they make.  
@toddswank Birdie Putt! #valspar #golf #birdie ♬ original sound - Goldenfilmz🎞🌼

 We also had a chance to visit the ZOA tent to get some Big D Energy.  Big Dwayne Energy that is.

On Saturday we had the honor of attending the 80th birthday of one of the greatest neighbors out there.  Happy Birthday, Jim Ingvalson!

March 17, 2024

A Visit to Hoċokata Ṫi

A Visit to Hoċokata Ṫi
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 17, 2024
We were driving by Canterbury Downs in Shakopee and saw a large construction site actively at work.  I wasn't aware what was being built so I asked ChatGPT who told me the following:  
The big brick building being constructed near Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minnesota, is a new outdoor music venue. This open-air amphitheater, with a capacity of 19,000 seats, is part of a larger project expected to open in the summer of 2025. The project is being funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and PCL Construction Services Inc. They are collaborating to develop a $400 million entertainment district in the area. Besides the amphitheater, the entertainment district will include a casino expansion, a hotel, a golf course, a water park, a multi-sport dome, retail spaces, and restaurants, aiming to create a comprehensive entertainment and leisure destination.
I had no idea this was coming to the area, but now that I do know I'm excited for summer of 2025 to get here.
Speaking of our local Native American Tribe, Miss Sheri had been asking to make a visit to Hoċokata Ṫi which is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s (SMSC) cultural center and gathering space.  
It opened in July of 2019, but we'd never been here before.  We wanted to see their 3,805-square-foot public exhibit, Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake, which their website says provides visitors with a cultural experience that enhances their knowledge and understanding of the Mdewakanton Dakota people and their history.
The beginning of the exhibit features a small theater with a neat multi-media set-up around a fake fire which makes you feel like you're in a teepee hearing stories from your elders.  It features tales of how the universe and human beings were created as passed down over the centuries from the tribe's ancestors.  I honestly found it to be pretty inspirational and very well done.
Miss Sheri is a big fan of eagles and always excited whenever we see one in nature.  So she was thrilled to see their display featuring an eagle's feather.  I'm not sure what they said about it as I forgot to read the display explanation, but I'm sure it was fascinating.

  Their pamphlet said the Dakota used canoes for travel and for Psinjhnaketu otherwise known as wild rice harvesting.  This dugout canoe was found in Lake Minnetonka in the 1930s and is almost 300 years old!  I'd sure like to ride in that thing.

I've always been fascinated with arrowheads, so this display of many of their hunting tools caught my attention.

 This book was pretty troubling to read.  It showcases the history of the land in Minnesota they once owned and how it was subsequentially "Negotiated" away from them throughout history through a variety of treaties with the US Government.  Pretty eye opening stuff.

 Before the age of Indian casinos, they didn't have a lot of money in their community.  They had an old trailer set-up to represent this era with a radio playing stories as told by tribe members for how they were treated in the community back in the day.  It was pretty powerful stuff.    

It's not a huge museum, but I was pretty impressed with it.  It does a nice job telling about the Mdewakanton Dakota people and their history.  If you're in the area and have an hour or two to kill, I'd recommend checking it out.  

On Saturday night, we connected with our buddies the Browns and the Zitzewitzes for an early St. Patrick's Day celebration.  They were serving corned beef and cabbage at the Savage Legion.  I draw the line at green beer for my celebrating, so enjoyed watching those who partook in that menu choice while I ate a burger instead.

Miss Sheri took this sunset picture earlier this week.  If you squint you can see a couple of trumpeter swans in the distance under the majestic hues painting the sky.  Ha ha.  I said hues.

March 10, 2024

Spending the Weekend with Caitlin Clark


Spending the Weekend with Caitlin Clark

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for March 10, 2024

Like most women who grew up in Iowa, Miss Sheri has been a bit obsessed with watching Caitlin Clark over the past couple of years.  So when we heard the Big10 Women's Basketball Tournament was coming to Minneapolis, we jumped at the chance to buy tickets.

At least we were able to stare at Bob Dylan while waiting in line. That's always very comforting.

Of course everyone wants to see Caitlin Clark. She's been an absolute phenomenon. She has become the leading career scorer across all NCAA divisions, the only player to lead her conference in scoring and assists for four seasons, and has broken records for 30+ point performances. She also broke Steff Curry's college career 3 point record during this tournament. It's such an awesome thing to see happen for women's sports.

Of course she had some help and her Iowa Hawkeyes were pursuing a Threepeat to win the Big10 tournament for a third year in a row. We were excited to be there to cheer them on!

Lisa Bluder, their coach, is no slouch either. She's made significant achievements of her own by becoming the all-time wins leader among Big Ten women's basketball coaches in conference victories.

I'm sure some of my high school buddies will call me a hypocrite for cheering on the Hawkeyes since I've been much more of a Gophers fan since I moved to Minnesota more than 31 years ago. However I'll make the argument that I earned the right to jump on the bandwagon as I did go to school in Iowa, actually went to University of Iowa for one semester, and my wife was a 4-year varsity basketball player at her Iowa high school. I still felt like a bit of a fraud though, but who cares. It's such a cool story!

On Wednesday night, we did get to cheer for Minnesota as they took on Rutgers. Iowa didn't play that night so we were able to get seats on the sideline for the game. It was fun to watch the home town team get the victory by a score of 77-69. Unfortunately they didn't fare as well on Thursday when they were beat by Michigan to end their run. I'm kind of glad we didn't have to watch them play Iowa.

Our first chance to see the Hawkeyes play was on Friday night against Penn State. We were lucky enough to get lower level seats for this game and watched Caitlin get a double double as they went on to win the game by a score of 95-62.

Everybody was pretty excited about that.

Well, everybody except for the Penn State Players.

We had a lot of fun memories singing the Iowa fight song and joining the crowd spelling out I-O-W-A with each side of the court taking a letter. The cheer was helped by the fact that approximately 90 percent of the people in the audience were there to cheer on the Hawkeyes.

On Saturday, Michigan gave the Hawkeyes a bit more of a fight leading the game by a score of 25-22 after the first quarter. But Caitlin had a double double by half time and the Black and Gold eventually won the game by a score of 95-68.

On Sunday, we left for the game three hours early, but still ended up in the upper deck for the championship between Iowa and Nebraska.

The final game was a great one. Caitlin had a tough first half going 0-9 from the three point line in the first half. She and the team turned things around in the second and overcame an 11 point halftime deficit to take the game into overtime. It was a tense time and everyone was on the edge of their seats to see who would eventually be crowned the winners.

In the end, the Hawkeyes won the game and hit the threepeat for the Big 10 tournament.  We spent a lot of hours downtown to be part of it, but it was so worth it.  We really enjoyed ourselves and look forward to seeing how they do in the NCAA Tournament next.   
The word is Fight! Fight! Fight! for Iowa!

Attention friends and neighbors. My old buddy, Mike Lins, who was Luke & Avery's robotics coach is running for the Minnesota Valley Electric Coop board. Mike is a great guy who served our country for 35 years in the National Guard and guided many young minds in Prior Lake High School to build some pretty incredible robots. When you get your ballots be sure to vote for him and my other buddy, Tom Wolf, at the same time. Thanks for your consideration!!
@toddswank The line to see Caitlyn Clark. #caitlin #hawkeyes #iowa #basketball ♬ Powerful Women - Pitbull & Dolly Parton
We've been to several sold out Minnesota Timberwolves games at Target Center before but for some silly reason, the only tickets we were able to purchase were general admission. This meant we had to show up 3 hours before game each day and we still ended up in the nosebleed seats every game but 1. I read this was the first time in the 31 year history of the event it's ever sold out tickets. Just my luck!!