This is my second stab at a website. This is a trial site and a dress rehearsal for my own lean, mean professional website. This site will be about me and my environs, thoughts on global politics, and what I am working on and thinking about, including occasional notes on sports, wine and cultcha. But enough about me – as the joke goes – I also want to hear about what you think of my work and thoughts.
This site will is open but does not show up in search engines. It is designed, and here I am writing, for friends, family, collaborators.
Me and my environs: the site’s title refers to the trademark of Madison, a.k.a. City of Four Lakes. We live on the isthmus – a strip of land separating Lakes Mendota and Monona. I consider us southern New England diasporans, Connecticut Yankees out of water, gradually acclimating to the Badger state.
In July, after two years in Beloit, we chose to move to Madison and buy a house here. The time had come to establish a base. But the choice of where was quite open. Theoretically, we could have chosen Buenos Aires. Realistically, Washington, Paris, Chicago and Milwaukee all were on our list. Madison was the choice for its civilized pace, knowledge economy, great restaurants, bikepaths, and affordable quality houses — plus a couple of old school friends and relatives nearby, and a foothold of experience working in the state. But most of our friends and family, and all of the close ones, do not live here or anywhere close. We love them, miss them and wish they were closer. So during the process of committing to Madison, we frequently asked ourselves, “Are we crazy to be doing this?” A variety of reasons- economic, financial, personal, professional- made the move look smart on paper and helped reassure us that our gut feeling was a good one, that we were not crazy. Still, few things in life being certain . . .
Interestingly, there is a long tradition of Connecticut people and their neighbors in New York and New England streaming west by northwest to leave their mark in Wisconsin. Connecticut itself had large land claims in the Midwest that it ceded to the US prior to the establishment of the Northwest Territory in 1787, its Connecticut Western Reserve becoming Trumbull County, Ohio. The Nutmeg state’s ambitions of dominion fell through (and today look downright silly). But many of its sons and daughters went out in the 19th century to found Wisconsin towns and colleges. My sense is that in the 20th century the flow of Yankees was reduced and segmented, with the University of Wisconsin attracting a steady stream of students and scholars.
Historicizing our move here helps reassure me about the risks of our move: “it ain’t no thing”. The big picture also helps because, ironically in a nation renowned for the mobility of its people, the mean recession has put some chill into life as a transplant. It is hard finding a job in Madison, as it is in most places in the country in 2011. And in my accent, thinking and schooling, I am noticeably different from native-born Wisconsinites. Becoming a fixture on the local scene will take time, perhaps with a dry spell here and there, but it will be good.
The global angle: I also plan to record occasional insights on local, regional and US as well as global issues in hopes of engaging with family, friends and colleagues in other places. I want to elicit your input and keep myself plugged in to broader global issues, which you are watching, reading and taking part in.
That’s all for now folks!