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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 Dairy.

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I learned forward, hunched over the buzzer, as if the closer my brain was to my hands, the quicker they could react.

Omaha, Nebraska, 2004 – Junior Holstein Association National Dairy Bowl Finals.

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When I was young, having to milk Christmas morning was – I was sure then – the purest form of torture. Every Christmas song, every frosted cookie, every time “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on the television set was part of the countdown to getting to the presents under the tree.

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“[Extrapolation] is similar to interpolation, which produces estimates between known observations, but extrapolation is subject to … a higher risk of producing meaningless results.”

—Wikipedia article on Extrapolation

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It could happen. Movies have shown us how.

Whether from the radiation of a NASA Venus probe, the mutation of prions from Mad Cow Disease or – as postulated by Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schlozman – a virus leading to the condition known as Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome, the threat of the infectious brain-eating undead looms over us all.

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Our family’s history starts with a pond on top of a hill. It was first dug by my great-grandfather, Claire Dennis, as a watering hole for cattle. He lived and milked there for two years without electricity. Because the milk carts, pulled by horses, would not make the climb, he had to haul his milk over a mile in metal cans every day.

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Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Agrarian philosophers founded the new republic of America on the idea that the farmer was the ideal citizen. One of his reasons for claiming legitimacy for the occupation was the closeness to nature not experienced by most others who didn’t farm.

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