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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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My Irish housemates, Kieran and Tommy, were sick of me trying to explain American sports to them. In retaliation, they forced me to choose an English Premier League soccer team to follow. I was already prejudiced against a sport that didn’t have cheerleaders and could end in a 0-0 draw, but I played along.

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Ronan puts his hand on my shoulder. “Ryan,” he says. “Do you have the soul inside you?”

Ronan had started his own radio show on the university station and invited me into a recording session.

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“Don’t worry,” I told my girlfriend. “There are a lot of 18-year-olds who live around us. They’ll get eaten first.”

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse is one of my side hobbies. When I drift out of a conversation, usually it is because I’m evaluating the surrounding space and considering how to bolster it against the infected hordes.

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“Hey, man, have you tried climbing?”

I cringed. I was getting a second master’s degree in Iceland, and University Housing had placed me in a dorm.

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It may not be entirely fair to compare Iceland with Australia – two nations of different sizes and circumstances – but it does illustrate how decisions by those behind a desk can have immense impact for those in the barn.

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Several months ago Ireland braced for Hurricane Ophelia. It was expected to be the worst storm in 50 years. Several days before it was to land, the government decided to close all schools, and the night before, the university too shut its doors.

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