Wisconsin’s economy, arts, sports, and nature are booming

my golf game, not so much

Great to be alive in Wisconsin this second week of September 2017.

First the weather: September-October weather is Wisconsin’s best. Low humidity, high blue skies and near 80-degree temps this week. No hurricanes! Yowzah!


A good day for a day trip with Number #1 Son to the hills and dales of Columbia/Sauk County by way of the Merrimac ferry, in our ragtop Fiat 500c.

Do the locals really want a bridge over the Wisconsin River? Don’t they realize what an attraction is this ferry, the Colsac III? Remember the first time the First Squire took his brood of six across — what a thrill!

Son and Current Squire took Highway 113, Tower Road and Bluff Road through the  Baraboo Range on our way to Driftless Glen distillery and restaurant in lovely Baraboo. It’s a relatively new establishment. Great meal — me with blackened salmon on a burger bun, barley and mushroom soup, washed down with a honey lager — on the veranda overlooking the Baraboo River. Across which, atop a bluff, rested a Circus World Museum circus rail car. The museum itself is right next door on Water Street.

We intended to tour the museum but the day was too nice to go indoors so we set out northeast, this time taking County W to Durwards Glen Road. That was another place first visited with the First Squire some 60 years ago.

Durward’s Glen has the natural allure — stone, woods, springs and streams — of nearby Parfrey’s Glen but with a fascinating array of religious statues, a lovely little chapel, and a fascinating old stone artist’s atelier (the Hermitage). Plus history dating back to 1862 when an artist by the name of Bernard Isaac Durward settled here. Later a novitiate for the Order of St. Camillus, Durward’s Glen is now an independent retreat and conference center. The grounds are open to the public during daylight hours. We dropped a few dollars into the donation box at Immaculate Conception Chapel.

Of course, we had to drive the winding South Shore Road through Devil’s Lake State Park. The Fiat 500c drive mode was set on “Sport.”

‘Better than Broadway’

The trip capped a beautiful weekend that saw the Badger football team win, the Packers beating the Sea Turkeys, and the Brewers sweep the Cubs — IN CHICAGO! Well do the scribes at the Stately Manor remember the days when such a trifecta was a pipe dream.

In a few days, the doyenne of the Stately Manor will accompany her Squire to a showing of Chekov’s Three Sisters at American Players Theater in its reconfigured outdoors Up the Hill theater in Iowa county just south of Spring Green. Next month, we’ll catch Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge at its indoor Touchstone theater.

We first attended American Players decades ago, shortly after its founding, when Randall Duk Kim was artist in residence, specializing in Shakespeare. We saw his Hamlet.

American Players has a national reputation. Consider this review by Terry Teachout (paywall), theater critic for the Wall Street Journal:

Few people outside Wisconsin know of APT’s existence, yet it is America’s finest classical theater festival, unrivaled for the unfailing excellence of its productions. Nowhere else — not even in New York or Chicago — will you see such plays done more stylishly or excitingly. … APT’s magnificent new production of “A View From the Bridge” … Arthur Miller’s 1955 drama of incestuous love on the waterfront … is, together with Mike Nichols’s 2012 Broadway version of “Death of a Salesman,” one of the two best Miller revivals I’ve ever seen.

(And Teachout’s review of its Shakespeare and its Jean Genet offerings: “American Players Theater is America’s best classical theater festival.”)

State’s economy is booming!

And now, on to a different tack altogether but one in the same pride in our Badger State.

What was the Wisconsin State Journal’s page one headline story Sunday?

Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage.”

The subhead: “With unemployment near a record low and more baby boomers retiring, Wisconsin faces a looming worker crisis.”

Isn’t this what Gov. Scott Walker has been trying to tell us for years? For all those nattering nabobs of negativity who cavil over Walker’s ambitious goal of creating 250,000 jobs? The jobs are there, begging for workers to fill them.

Lest one not see the forest for the trees, this is your bottom line (sponsored by the Blaska Policy Werkes): Wisconsin’s economy is booming!

Wisconsin is expected to need 45,000 workers in seven years but it simply lacks the people to fill them. Even now, employers complain they can’t fill high-need jobs — many of them low-income but some in nursing, IT and the sciences that pay better than the state median.  — (Matthew DeFour’s excellent series here.)

Does make one wonder where we will come up with the 13,000 (or so) workers Foxconn wants to hire. (See now another Kenosha-Racine area Democrat voted for it, Bob Wirch.)

Cranes and turkeys and foxes, oh my!

Makes one wonder on what issue will the raft of Democrat(ic) gubernatorial challengers campaign? The supposedly degraded environment?

Yes, we’re choking on our own filth. Not! A small but telling anecdote. The Revenue Golf League finished its season last week. (Someone has to be its worst player.) Many of the fairways were being torn up as we watched by sandhill cranes looking for grubs under the turf. Sandhill cranes! Once so rare, now almost becoming a pest like the increasing numbers of geese. A beautiful pest but …

In addition to the cranes and geese, this season we saw red foxes, wild turkeys, and an eagle high in a tree — at Odana Hills golf course. Surrounded by the city of Madison. The congested Beltline Highway runs along its south side. High-voltage American Transmission electric lines on tall poles! Pesticides and fertilizer and motorized carts and Blaska flailing away at a little white ball like a berserk Dutch windmill.

Wildlife we never saw growing up on the farm 50 years ago! And you want to tell me Scott Walker and the legislative Republicans have degraded the environment?

Smoke it somewhere else, my … acquaintances.


About David Blaska

Madison WI
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20 Responses to Wisconsin’s economy, arts, sports, and nature are booming

  1. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    If only Wisconsin’s winter wasn’t an interminable, soul-numbing nightmare. Of course if things unfold as predicted by the high priests of the Holy Evangelical Church of Climate Change, we’ll soon be basking on the beaches of Lake Michigan in January. Ever notice how if climate change skeptics point out, for example, that August was 6.5 degrees cooler than normal, they’re instantly pounced on by liberals squealing that a single event can’t be regarded as evidence. But when a couple of hurricanes hit the US, it’s irrefutable proof that the apocalypse of climate change is upon us.

    (Anyone want to take bets on how many more bodies can be crammed into the clown car known of Democratic candidates for governor? Personally, I’m still all in for Cross Plains Woman.)


  2. old baldy says:


    Can you give us a credible source that proves your claim, “But when a couple of hurricanes hit the US, it’s irrefutable proof that the apocalypse of climate change is upon us” ? Or do you just want to keep confusing weather with climate?


  3. Meade says:

    “Great to be alive in Wisconsin this second week of September 2017.”

    I’ll 2nd that and how!


  4. madisonexpat says:

    Life is good. In the early 70’s the Fox River had nothing but carp, now it has trout. In my court house current hometown in SC there was a bear and there is a burgeoning beaver revival. Neither had occurred in living memory.


    • old baldy says:


      If you are referring to the Fox R. that runs into Green Bay you really have to prove that trout claim. There may be a stray steelhead that wanders in from the bay, but no resident population, and certainly no native species of trout.


  5. madisonexpat says:

    Its just killing you that the quality of life is getting better doesn’t it Baldy?
    That the Fox River goes from paper factory effluent to clean goes un noticed. ‘How many trout? What kind? How big?’


    • old baldy says:

      No splat, I am more than thrilled that the waters of the state have been constantly improving since the passage of the CWA. I am truly concerned that the current administrations, both in Madison and DC will take us back to pre-CWA conditions. I grew up on a river that made national news when a paper mill screw up killed every fish in the river for 13 miles. And not once but several times as recently and the early 70’s. And it was the single largest source on N in all the Great Lakes basin. Happy for the improvement;you bet! Concerned about the future; you bet.

      Now tell all about those make-believe trout……


  6. madisonexpat says:

    OB, CWA passed in 1972. Who was the President?
    Now for your man Bernie’s level of environmental protection we learn that the most polluted nations are/were run by International Socialists. Russia, China and now Venezuela.
    Friends tell me trout caught in DePere are good. I recall when it looked like a root beer float complete with foam.


    • old baldy says:

      Nixon, the first president I voted for. And he had a coalition of both parties to pass the CWA. There, you got a free history lesson. Now compare the environmental policies of Nixon to those of trump or walker. Extra points if you use facts.


  7. old baldy says:


    I am ever vigilant .

    As long as you are creating some revisionist history, compare the EPA of Nixon to the EPA of trump. You know the one he wants to eliminate…..


  8. madisonexpat says:

    33,000 pages of new EPA regulations under Obama whose incompetence was only surpassed by the Chicago level of corruption he brought to the federal bureaucracy. Please drain that swamp, er wetland President Trump.


    • old baldy says:


      So rather than defend your defenseless claims you change the subject. And you expect other readers to take you seriously? Ha !

      Speaking of incompetence:

      Repeal and replace the ACA – Nope.
      Tax reform – Nope.
      Built the wall – Nope
      Defeated ISIS – Nope

      The list is long…….


  9. madisonexpat says:

    What claim do you call undefended?
    Do your best to be specific Baldy.


  10. old baldy says:


    Well now that you ask, pretty much everything you say. But let’s start with your trout in the Fox claim…. Then move on to the comparison of environmental policies under Nixon vs. trump, or their EPA’s. Oh, wait. You dodged those…..


    • David Blaska says:

      Leave it to the Bald One to miss the forest for the trees. The original point was that Wisconsin’s environment is healthy. Old Baldy cavils that the Fox River may be a haven for walleye but not trout — rather than address the main point. (Trout preferring shallow, cold, and fast-moving waters, which the Fox never was.) Is there any hope for people like Baldy?


      • old baldy says:

        And my point is that we are in grave danger of backsliding on our gains re the environment. Just look at drinking water quality issues in Kewaunee and LaCrosse Counties. Ground water quantity issues in the Central Sands. Tiffany and Jarchow constantly chipping away at shoreland protection. Death by a thousand cuts is still death.
        And splats claim is still false no matter how you guys want to spin it. It is like telling thew truth is objectionable to you guys.


  11. madisonexpat says:

    I will cite Old Baldy who said there may be a steelhead in the Fox River so I need not defend the premise of a clean river.
    Obama broke the EPA while trying to eliminate carbon, as if. Trump fixes it by eliminating the dumber Obama mandates.
    Speaking of dodges, have you agreed that no system ruins habitat like Socialism does?


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