About

I call myself the Switchel Blogger and I have two blogs:

Why switchel? And why two blogs?

The short answer to “why switchel?” is because I like it! Switchel is a non-alcoholic beverage dating back to Colonial times. From Wikipedia:

Switchel debatably originated in the Caribbean, but New England also holds credit as the source of switchel, and it became a popular summer drink in the American Colonies in the late 17th century. By the 19th century, it had become a traditional drink to serve to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time.

My mother made switchel for our family when I was growing up on the farm, and we drank a lot of it in the hayfield. It’s good stuff, and there is renewed interest in switchel these days. It is now being sold commercially – see this and this for example.

The essence of switchel is sugar, vinegar, ginger and water. In my part of the world (Vermont), the sugar is usually maple syrup and the vinegar is almost always apple cider vinegar. But variations are allowed. Honey and pomegranate vinegar are good. Sometimes additional ingredients are added such as lemon juice or even rum! There are endless variations, just like life.

Maple syrup and apple cider vinegar are native to Vermont. Ginger is not. Life should be like that, too. We should appreciate things from both home and away. Oh, and the ginger tends to settle out, so you need to shake switchel before drinking it. Life is also like that. Sometimes you just need to shake it up a little.

The answer to “why two blogs?” is because they have different themes.

“The Switchel Philosopher” is for adventures in the world of ideas. The tag line is:

What is a proper relationship between a free people and their government?

“The Switchel Traveler” is for travel adventures in the physical world. The tag line is:

“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The tag line for “The Switchel Philosopher” is meant to serve as a muse for the blog, where a frequent topic is government and citizenship. The tag line for “The Switchel Traveler” is Hamlet’s reminder that we can never know everything. I like this line because it says to me that philosophy alone is not enough. We must also explore the world.

The rest of the answer to “why switchel?” is because of the yin-yang concept of Taoism (or Daoism). Switchel has a yin-yang aspect, with the sweetness of maple syrup and the sourness of vinegar. Much of life has a yin-yang aspect. Even my two blogs have a yin-yang aspect, with one about the physical world and the other about the world of ideas.

My name is George Putnam. I grew up on a dairy farm in Cambridge, Vermont, graduated from college as an agricultural engineer, and after a few twists and turns ended up as a loan officer at Farm Credit, a financial institution that lends money to farmers. (Farm Credit is a nationwide system of farmers’ cooperatives – not that common in the lending world.) Farm Credit was my career for 32 years, including ten years as president and CEO of Yankee Farm Credit headquartered in Williston, Vermont. I retired at the end of 2016.

In retirement I am spending time traveling in both the physical world and the world of ideas, looking for adventures to blog about. I also acquired a new job. At town meeting in Cambridge in March 2017, I was elected to the selectboard. This is an interesting part-time job that provides considerable material for my Switchel Philosopher blog. Of course, all my blog posts are my personal views and do not represent the selectboard.

My blogging history

“The Switchel Philosopher” – this blog – is my most recent blog. I started it in February 2017, after retiring in December 2016. It has always been about adventures in the world of ideas, including government and citizenship. Being elected to the town selectboard in March 2017 has contributed to the themes discussed on this blog.

“The Switchel Traveler” is an older blog and has had two previous names. I started that blog in 2007 as “George’s Home Blog” to distinguish it from my “work blog” which I also started in 2007. After retiring, the work/home distinction was not applicable any more, and I renamed it to “George’s Other Blog” to distinguish it from “The Switchel Philosopher.” In January 2018 I renamed it again, to “The Switchel Traveler” to more clearly indicate how my two personal blogs complement each other.

Post retirement, my two blogs have different and distinctive themes, as noted above:

  • The Switchel Philosopher – adventures in the world of ideas
  • The Switchel Traveler – travel adventures in the physical world

Prior to retirement I blogged about both themes on my “work blog,” and I also blogged about both themes on my “home blog.” Examples of both themes on my “work blog” included Trip to China (travel) and Values (ideas). My “home blog” has always included travel adventures. Prior to retirement it also included adventures in the world of ideas, some of which are captured by the labels culture, money, reality and slow.

There’s a lesson in that blogging history. There are many different yin-yang aspects in the world, and sometimes they change. Prior to retirement, the yin-yang aspect of my blogging was work vs. home. Post retirement, the yin-yang aspect of my blogging is physical world vs. world of ideas.

There are also some earlier adventures in the world of ideas on “George’s VAFPDB Blog.” I published ten posts there in 2012-13 before resigning from the Vermont Agricultural and Forest Products Development Board. That was my only formal service in government prior to being elected to the Cambridge selectboard in 2017.