(First, a slight disclaimer, although this , blog will be pursued with my customary geekish abandon, it is not predominantly a comment on geek culture, more a commentary on the new world I find myself in. It may eventually require a seperate blog dedicated to it.)
So Geekrant has been silent for nearly 18 months now. I'm aware that this occurence probably brings forth a complete lack of sorrow from most (if I in fact have any) of my readers. However what with being engaged, planning a wedding, getting married, applying to emigrate to the U.S.A, emigrating to the U.S.A. and working a full time job creating high quality potato based food products. I haven't really had the time.
However, now, like the Pilgrim Fathers, the Founding Fathers, the Irish and Arnold Schwarzenegger before me, I find myself on these far shores. And so as an antidote to the boredom that comes from waiting for my social security number to arrive and only having having American daytime tv to watch, GEEKRANT IS REBORN! (cue dramactic music maestro please). This will chronicle my opinions about life, the universe and everything in this the land of the exile that love has chosen for me well, at least it will if my wife let's me write it...
THE FAR SHORE
Someone, somewhere, back in the mists of time (and considerably wittier than me, it must be said) made the observation that the British and the Americans are one nation separated by a common language. If that's true it's not just a written language but a cultural one also.
The food's a little bit different. The attitude's a smidgen unlike good old northern english hospitality, the weather's definitely different. As a connoisseur of American pop culture (I might have watched some Cheers once upon a time) I thought I was ready for this... and how wrong was I?!
So right here, I'm going to write down some of the observations I've made here and hopefully I won't upset the entire nation and get myself put on a slow boat home. Starting with...
So I washed up in Madison, "Mad City" as the locals call it. It's the capital of the state of Wisconsin which is literally translated from a Native American word for Cheese... Okay I'm joking, it's named after the Wisconsin River as you all, no doubt, knew. Madison is about two hours from Chicago and an hour or so from Lake Michigan. Its warm and humid in the summer and in Winter it changes its name to the Frozen Tundra! It gets cold.
Now as been hinted at already, these guys like their cheese, in fact all their dairy. They call Wisconsin "America's Dairyland" after all. They make tons of the stuff and they have a deep love affair with fresh produce. As a result, Madison, Wisconsin, is home to the U.S.As largest producer only farmer's market. (It means you buy direct from the farmer...this isn't Morrison's meat counter you know)
So Madison loves its food, it also loves its beer, with large and micro breweries all around. This city loves a good pint (as they might say back home) although they generally seem to drink from bottles. They're also not necessarily fond of putting alcohol percentages front and centre on the bottle, especially some of the smaller breweries. However as a general rule of thumb, they'd think you were a pussy for drinking anything less than a 5% beer. Not that they'd tell you that, they're far too polite for that.
Madison is politically active and likes to express its displeasure with the present governor of Wisconsin with nice little gatherings in the state's capitol building. These are given the veneer of an earth shattering protest but as a lot of the people outside the city are quite partial to the governor, it doesn't do much good.
So Madison is left wing, as left wing as a bumper sticker from a 1967 Crosby, Stills and Nash tour stuck on the fender (not bumper bizzarely) of a green VW camper van converted to run on vegetable oil and hot air.
Its clean for a city, with plenty of green spaces and cycle paths, even an arboretum and a botanical gardens. The lakes are beautiful in the early morning sunlight and while it is taking a while to adjust to the bumper stickers and overt political campaigning on cars, the prices with sales tax (VAT to us British) not built in and the aging hippies who don't seem to realise the Vietnam War ended 40 years ago, I will adjust. The reason? I like it here and I love my wife and my new life. Oh and the sports teams are good. Go Badgers, Go Packers!
Till next time, this is Geekrant signing off.