Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. are heading out shortly to catch our flight to the Land of the Rising Sun, so watch for reports from those environs. Tomorrow’s Rule Five Friday and this week’s Saturday Gingermageddon are already queued up. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, here’s something interesting; my childhood home state of Iowa has claimed the #1 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best states to live in. Excerpt:
Iowa may be better known for its corn, caucuses and creative writing programs, but the Hawkeye state also leads the nation in efforts to bring ultra-fast internet access to every city block and every rural acre.
Iowa’s No. 1 rankings in the infrastructure category and the broadband access metric within that came as a “pleasant surprise” to David Daack, a broadband consultant for Connected Nation, which does business in the state as Connect Iowa. Previous data reports have shown Iowa more in the middle of the pack.
“When people think of Iowa, they usually think of agricultural places that won’t necessarily need to be connected,” Daack says. “But given the big data needs of agriculture today and in the future, those areas are going to need to be every bit as connected as the urban areas. … You could almost argue that maybe we should go (to the farms) first and work our way back into the cities.”
Combine those No. 1s with Iowa’s Top 10 rankings in health care (No. 3), opportunity (No. 4), education (No. 5) and quality of life (No. 9), and the state becomes “first in the nation” not only in terms of its presidential caucuses, but also when describing Iowa’s overall placement in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best States rankings.
“We’ve been basically working within this model since 2011, and as you can see by the results in so many indexes, it’s working,” says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Having grown up in Iowa, I can vouch for its status as a good place to be a kid. Allamakee County was a great place to be a kid who loved to hunt, fish and bum around in the woods. My folks had sixty acres of hardwood timber with a great trout stream running through the property, and pretty much all of the surrounding farms were open to free-range kids who spent the summer roaming around; if someone noticed a couple of boys crossing their pasture with .22 rifles, most would just shrug and say “they’re local kids. Just being kids.”
Like most places, though, Iowa has changed. Our oldest kid lives there still, along with two of my sisters and my folks. Iowa always has been home to them, but the Iowa of my youth has moved (somewhat) away from its overwhelmingly agricultural past to being a more well-rounded place. Cedar Rapids is emerging as something of a high-tech hub, and the state’s universities are attracting more out-of-state students.
Not everything has changed, though. I think it’s the pace of things in Iowa that lots of folks find appealing. A couple of years ago I had occasion to go to Elkader for a family event; Elkader is a small town in northeast Iowa, about thirty miles from my old Allamakee County stomping grounds. When we left the town, we stopped at a gas station/convenience store for a drink, and I commented to the older lady behind the counter that I “…hadn’t been through Elkader for at least thirty years, and it doesn’t seem like anything has changed.”
She replied, “come back in another thirty years and nothing will have changed then, either.”
It’s nice to know of places like that. Stability should count for something.