December 29, 2011

A Christmas Story

A married couple had been out shopping at the mall most of the afternoon, when suddenly, the wife realized that her husband had "disappeared."

Irate, she called her husband's cell and demanded "where the hell are
you ?"

"Darling, remember that jewelry shop where you saw the diamond necklace and totally fell in love with it; and remember that I didn't have the money at the time and said;

'Baby it'll be yours one day."

Somewhat embarrassed and with a blushing smile, she replied

"Yes. I remember that my love."

"Well, I'm in the bar next to that store."

December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Shortarmguy's Diary Update for December 26, 2011

Grandma Linda wasn't going to be with us for Christmas this year, so we had her over for dinner on the Sunday before.  Dang, them was some good Sweet Potatoes!

We went to the farm for Christmas this year and Grandma Haack was Dang Glad to see us!

Sunny was Dang Happy it was Christmas also.  That dog gets more gifts than any of us!

Miss Sheri and I don't always do very good at exchanging gifts with one another.  I guess I figure that every day she gets to be with me is like a special present to her from God.  I'm sure she feels the dang same.

Christmas isn't Christmas without a little Take and Bake Pizza from Papa Murphy's.  Grandma Haack used to do this a lot when she was a little girl and so we try to follow that dang tradition as well.

The boys and I were completely filled with Christmas Spirit while we waited for our dang pizzas to be ready!

There's a new casino in Northwest Iowa called Grand Falls Casino!  Now I can lose a bunch of dang money while I'm down there as well!

The unseasonably warm weather allowed us to go for an afternoon cruise on the 4 Wheelers.  Normally this time of year we're on the snowmobiles, but I Dang sure ain't complaining!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Crazy Emails for December 26, 2011

Seen at a Chicago Bears Game...

Embarrassing Office Party Photo

It's that horrifying moment...

...when you realize that your friend's arm makes you look naked in the office party photo.

More Fun With Rod Blagojevich

Don't Mess With The Toys for Tots Marines

A Social Network Christmas

Why NOT To Let Your Frog Play With Your iPhone

December 22, 2011

AMD's Read Feeling No Pressure From Hard Drive Shortage

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based solution provider, isn’t entirely convinced of AMD’s expressed immunity to the shortage. 

“I think it’s an odd thing to say,” Swank told CRN. “When Intel came out with their shortfall… that just goes to show that there is going to be a shortage of system sales in general, and I can’t say that AMD is dominating in any category over Intel.” 

December 18, 2011

Prior Lake Middle School Robotics Competition 2011

Prior Lake Middle School Robotics Competition 2011

Shortarmguy's Diary Update for December 18, 2011

On Sunday night, we went to the Outback to celebrate Grandma Linda's birthday.  Poor thing is getting so old that can she can no longer sit up at the table by herself.  Luckily her boobs still have enough grip to keep her braced up against the table, so at least she has that going for her.

On Monday, I chaperoned the boy's Ski Club at Buck Hill in Burnsville, Minnesota.  It was unseasonably warm at about 40 degrees, but they've been making snow so the ski conditions were still quite decent.  Made for a pretty fun night of skiing.  Even if I was surrounded by pre-teens all night.

On Wednesday night, I went to the Minnesota Wild game with my co-worker, Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy.  Because if there's anyone I really like going Wild with, It's Steve "Cuds" Cuddihy.

The Wild have had a great start to the season and were leading the NHL in points the night of the game.  The team they were playing, the Chicago Black Hawks, were in second place.  The game was an epic battle and the Wild tied the score with less than 5 minutes to play.  The teams then went into overtime and finally a shootout to settle things.  Unfortunately for the home team, the Black Hawks smoked them pretty quickly in the Shootout, but it was a great game none the less.

The rest of the week was pretty much spent on final preparations for the 2011 Prior Lake Middle School Robotics Competition.  16 teams spent 9 weeks building, programming, and testing their robots to compete in the squared circle at Prior Lake High School.  The competition was exhilarating.

The competition was sponsored by the high school team, King Tec.  Their team has won numerous awards and competed recently in the World First Championship.  They sponsored the competition which gives Prior Lake one of the only middle school robotics programs in the state of Minnesota.

Joe Passofaro is the parent volunteer who has given countless hours in to building an incredible program that emphasizes themes like Gracious Professionalism and honors teams that help others rather than just ruthlessly trying to win.  He continually stressed that the victory is in the experience and the education gained from the process rather than just being about the team with the higher score at the end of the tournament.  He and the high school team created such an incredible program, I can honestly say that it was my favorite educational experience I've been involved with as a parent.  

Way to go, Joe!!

Of course, Joe didn't do it all by himself.  His incredible wife, April Passofaro, was with him every step of the way, busily working behind the scenes to make sure the program was flowing like it should and that the participants all had the parts that they needed.  

What a neat couple!

There were 16 teams in the matches and they all had clever names and cool T shirts.  The Bots in Black were one of my favorites along with the Angry Nerds.

The tournament was an all day affair with 28 preliminary rounds.  Luke and Avery were part of Team # 4 aka Real Steel and competed in 7 of the opening matches.  There were four robots on the field during each match which created a lot of chaos for their mechanical players.

The matches consisted of a 30 second "Autonomous" period where the robots had to perform based purely on what had been programmed into their brains and then followed by a 2 minute tele-operation where the team members controlled the robot with what looks like an XBOX style joystick.  There were several ways to score including carrying the comets (orange footballs) to the alliance side of the field or into the high goal.  Possession of the large yellow sun ball also counted for a whopping 25 points so it was important to keep an eye on this thing as well.

The matches were fast paced and quite exciting.  With 4 robots and balls flying everywhere, it was sometimes hard to keep track of who was winning, but cheering loudly always seemed to help regardless of what was happening on the field.

Parental involvement during the competition could be grounds for disqualification, so our team parents decided to watch most of the matches high above the field.  They may look calm in this picture, but we were all chewing our fingernails pretty much throughout the entire day!

All that stressing out seems to have paid off, because our team made it to the finals!  They selected team 12 to be their alliance partner because they had an incredibly unique robot that could actually throw the footballs to the other side of the field without rolling anywhere!  There were balls flying all over the place!!

Although our alliance didn't win the final round of the tournament, we were lucky enough to win the coveted Chairman's Award!    

I just can't tell you enough how proud we are of our team.  They worked so hard the past 9 weeks to make their robot work and in the end, their efforts really paid off for all of them.  

Here's a short video I made featuring the clip where they won the award:

Minnesota Bank Robbery

A hooded robber burst into a Minnesota bank and forced the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out the door, a brave Minnesota customer grabbed the hood and pulled it off, revealing the robbers face. The robber shot the customer without a moments hesitation. 

He then looked around the bank and noticed one of the tellers looking straight at him. The robber instantly shot him also. 

Everyone in the bank, by now very scared, looked intently down at the floor in silence. 

 The robber yelled, 

"Well, did anyone else see my face?" 

There are a few moments of utter silence in which everyone was plainly to afraid to speak. 

Then, one old Norwegian named Ole' from Minnesota tentatively raised his hand and said, 

"My wife got a pretty good look at you."

A Short Story for Engineers

A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube inside. This was due to the way the production line was set up, and people with experience in designing production lines will tell you how difficult it is to have everything happen with timings so precise that every single unit coming out of it is perfect 100% of the time. Small variations in the environment (which can’t be controlled in a cost-effective fashion) mean you must have quality assurance checks smartly distributed across the line so that customers all the way down to the supermarket don’t get pissed off and buy another product instead.

Understanding how important that was, the CEO of the toothpaste factory got the top people in the company together and they decided to start a new project, in which they would hire an external engineering company to solve their empty boxes problem, as their engineering department was already too stretched to take on any extra effort.

The project followed the usual process: budget and project sponsor allocated, RFP, third-parties selected, and six months (and $8 million) later they had a fantastic solution — on time, on budget, high quality and everyone in the project had a great time. They solved the problem by using high-tech precision scales that would sound a bell and flash lights whenever a toothpaste box would weigh less than it should. The line would stop, and someone had to walk over and yank the defective box out of it, pressing another button when done to re-start the line.

A while later, the CEO decides to have a look at the ROI of the project: amazing results! No empty boxes ever shipped out of the factory after the scales were put in place. Very few customer complaints, and they were gaining market share. “That’s some money well spent!” – he says, before looking closely at the other statistics in the report.

It turns out, the number of defects picked up by the scales was 0 after three weeks of production use. It should have been picking up at least a dozen a day, so maybe there was something wrong with the report. He filed a bug against it, and after some investigation, the engineers come back saying the report was actually correct. The scales really weren't picking up any defects, because all boxes that got to that point in the conveyor belt were good.

Puzzled, the CEO travels down to the factory, and walks up to the part of the line where the precision scales were installed.

A few feet before the scale, there was a $20 desk fan, blowing the empty boxes off of the belt and into a bin.

“Oh, that,” says one of the workers — “one of the guys put it there ’cause he was tired of walking over ….. “ every time the bell rang”. 

Santa Streaming Lights

Tell Me Again. How did he break his collarbone?

Carlson School of Management Flash Mob, Deck the Halls

Paragliding With A Hawk

A Kids View of the Christmas Story

People Are Awesome

December 16, 2011

Swank Family Christmas Letter 2011

Happy Holiday in Winter!!! 

Our kids are no longer allowed to say the word Christmas in school, so we’re not going to say it in our Christmas letter either. We sure don’t want them to get suspended or anything. 

 It’s hard to believe that 2011 is already over and we’re moving into 2012. As we all know, this will be the last year for the existence of Planet Earth. It was nice having all of you in our lives. Well, most of you. 

So we always like to use our Christmas letter as a way to reflect on our lives over the past year and to celebrate all the gifts we’ve been given during that time. But to do this without making people throw up in their mouths a little can be quite challenging. But we’re forced to do our best so here goes. 

 Somehow, Todd still has a job. He’s selling high performance computing solutions for Nor-Tech. The highlight of this year was when he was lucky enough to join his bosses and some good folks at the Intel Corporation for a trip to the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. He baked in the hot sun on the edge of the 6th green the whole day and cried about the fact that they wouldn’t let him bring his camera on the course! His one chance in life to get a photo taken with Tiger Woods was ruined! Therefore, his entire scheme to earn a blackmail windfall from a Tiger Woods themed sex scandal was ruined as well. 

 Sheri is still working as a paraprofessional at one of the local elementary schools. Things have really been working out good for her ever since she had that restraining order lifted. 

We continue to push Luke and Avery harder and harder to try to make up for all the things we didn't achieve when we were children. Every now and then, we think we’re going to break them, but so far so good. 

 We force them to do crazy things like Robotics Club, Boy Scouts, Honor Band, Golf Lessons, and Ski Club. A couple of those things they even seem to enjoy some times which is nice. 

Boy Scouts can be especially grueling. We do things like go camping. This means we actually sleep outside in Minnesota when the temperatures ain’t anywhere near 72 degrees. That’s our ideal sleeping temperature! The only positive thing about camping is that we've become really good at not having to go to the bathroom for an entire weekend. At least not number two. One time in February, we even went camping inside of a cave in Wisconsin for two nights! That’s a special level of Hell that Dante didn't write about. The only fun part was trying to squeeze Todd’s belly through some of those tight crevices that we crawled through. Lucky we did, because if he’d have remained stuck there, he’d probably be a fossil by now. 

We've currently immersed ourselves in building a robot for the Middle School Robotics Club. Luke and Avery along with two of their classmates have designed, built, programmed, and tested a cool robot that they can control with a joystick to drive over ramps and dump footballs into a box. There’s gotta be some skills they’re developing that we can eventually exploit someday. After all, who doesn't want a robot that can drop footballs into a box? 

Our Golden Retriever, Sunny, is now 6 years old and is extremely affectionate. Especially with Todd. It makes Sheri all sorts of concerned. Todd really doesn't quite get what the big deal is. They’re just dog kisses. 

 Other than all those things, we've had a really great year!! 

Our goal for 2012 is to stay married. Things always get a little precarious in our relationship after Todd shows Sheri what our Christmas Letter says.

 We hope you all achieve your dreams in 2012!

The Swank Family