Sunday, June 28, 2009

Work, Lockey's and my two cents on MJ

Good morning, afternoon, evening. It is Sunday evening here in Sydney and I just finished dinner and am now drinking a coffee. Tonight I will be watching 60 Minutes, also a talk show much like the Tonight Show called Rove, and 24. I'm exhausted from a good weekend of fun and work.

Not a lot has happened in my life since my U.S. Open blogs, but a few things occurred. I thought about doing an individual Michael Jackson blog, but really didn't have all that much to say about it on the day he died. But now I think I've had time to reflect and say a few words.

This must be what it was like when Elvis died. I was too young to be a fan of Michael in the 80's. I was scared to death of the Thriller video for years. Around the time of his Dangerous album, my brother and I were beginning to collect cassette tapes and that album would be where I started to really learn all of Michael's hits. The video "The way you make me feel" I remember watching with my mom. My favorite MJ song would have to be Smooth Criminal, but it is hard to pick a favorite.

Despite all the weirdness, you have to tip your hat to the man. He was a genius. I don't know a whole lot about writing music or dance choreography, but I do know that what he did cannot be repeated. I heard someone on the news say today that as time goes on, the music will be what is remembered about Michael Jackson. That, I hope is true. He's one of those people that I will remember where I was when I heard the news of his death.
I often think of that remade painting "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" that includes James Dean, Marylin Monroe, Elvis and Humphrey Bogart in a small diner. It kind of makes me chuckle when I think of Michael entering that diner. I wonder what Elvis would say to Michael.

Last night, my roommate Steve and I went over to Lockey's again. I found out Lockey's name is Lachlan. Makes sense now. We had another barbie by the fire. Because Lockey is the only person I know with a scale, I like going over to his place to do my weigh in. I lost another five pounds since the previous barbie. So once again, I feasted! Steve's friend Alyese brought marshmallows and m&m's. I couldn't have s'mores with that combination, but I could still have a marshmallow/chocolate combination. Alyese said she bought the biggest ones they had. They were mini! Oh well, I'm used to the American ones. The beverage I brought to the barbie was Michelob Ultra. It tasted like home. When I was buying the beer, I started to give the guy behind the counter a hard time about the beer's born on date being June, 2008. But then I reminded myself, I could have picked a fresh Australian beer if I wanted to and pulled back.
It was my dad's birthday yesterday, Happy birthday dad! Fathers Day and your birthday in the same week! Lucky guy. You're the best.

Today was my first day of work for Peter. That's all I know regarding my employer's name. He picked me up around 10am and we went to Bunnings Warehouse, which is just like the American Home Depot. He bought me some gloves and some protective gear for my face. He had his four year old son Thomas with him. Thomas is a very energetic talkative little guy. Peter has a pretty nice car that has a DVD player in the back so Thomas can watch and not talk for a few minutes. Imagine if we had that as kids? Unfortunately he is also going through a divorce and it is very apparent in his demeanor. He talked about it quite a bit with me throughout the day and it reminded me of some other jobs I've had in the past where sometimes I was the only person around to talk about the tough times for someone else. One sentence he said that stuck with me was "Divorce destroys families." Sad, isn't it?

So Peter's place is beautiful. It sits on top of this incredibly steep hill in Engadine, about 15 minutes drive from my suburb of Gymea. For those of you from Keene, imagine that house we used to live in on 77 Prospect St. Imagine that yard and what a nightmare it was to mow. Now this property here isn't as big as Prospect St., but there is enough work to do here for a couple of 77 Prospect St. properties.

The first job Peter had me do was to weedwack a pretty big area of grass that hadn't been cut in over six months. Knee high or higher basically. I didn't have one of those normal weed whackers, I had one of those industrial metal blade weed whackers, which are called whipper snippers here. I whacked for maybe 40 minutes or more and my arms were about to fall off. The harness I was wearing was just a bit too big, so instead of just hanging off the harness, I had to physically lift this heavy weed whacker. It wasn't the weight that hurt so much as the shaking of the motor. When I finally stopped whacking, my hands were aching! So I gave the weed whacker a rest for the day and mowed and mowed until the grass was pretty low. There is still a ton of grass to be picked up on another day.

Peter's ex wife was actually at the house which made things a bit awkward. Not awkward, but just tense even though there wasn't any fighting or anything like that. I guess you could just describe the feeling as cold. It was one of the most beautiful homes I've seen, but there was no love in that house. Even the dog, a little overweight lab, looked lonely. She did make me lunch, which was great. Roast beef sandwiches, but basically stayed out of sight.

Uncle Daryl would laugh at this next bit. I do consider myself to have the most knowledge of tools in my immediate family, but really that isn't very impressive. My dad might have some skills, but Uncle Daryl is the handy man we call when something needs to be built or removed. The next thing Peter had me do was cut up some bamboo trees with a machete. Yep, Ryan was going to be swinging a machete. My immediate thoughts were not a question of how I was going to chop off a limb, but when. I've never swung a machete before. You're supposed to do a backhand motion so you don't chop your knees up. I did alright with it, but I was being cautious. Not worth cutting my shin off. It would probably have been funny to watch me swing the thing though.

Later in the day I helped Peter make some stairs out of concrete. Again, Daryl if you're reading this, this is the part where I do most of the standing and watching because Peter brought out tools like a power drill and a steel rod cutter. I don't even know the name of the tool. I'm the guy who is supposed to be helping Peter because of his bad back! Anyway, one part of making a step is to put steel rods in the middle where the concrete will go so that the stairs won't slide. After he had me drill a few holes for the steel rods, and then taking over after realizing how slow I was going, he had me hammer a couple of the rods in. If you want to laugh, picture me swinging a hammer, and batting probably .450 while trying to hit the rod. I pounded half of em in, and so did Peter, but I hope he smiled, because it had to of been comical. I did light heatedly mention that maybe my skills were lacking with tools and he laughed and said "I wasn't going to say anything."

Thankfully the rain came soon after that. Peter then showed me what I'd be doing in the next few weeks. A lot of painting is to be done. Part of the outside of the house needs to be painted. There's an overhang up near the top in particular. Because of the incline of the house, he said it is too dangerous to paint with ladders, so instead we will be up on the roof painting over the side. The roof is flat by the way. I'm not really scared of heights,(I'm scared of FALLING from heights, hehe) so it shouldn't be a problem getting up there. For those of you worrying, do not worry. I will not do anything that puts me in danger of getting hurt.

I'm guessing that I'll only be working for Peter for probably 2 or 3 weeks out of the next six, maybe more though as he will allow me to come by the house when he's not there. He is a kind person, he offered me a couple of beers (after handling the machinery) and said if I was able to work more than just six or seven weeks, he would have bought me work boots. He paid me pretty generously too, almost more than I think I deserved. He will be good company. I hope I can be good company for him. It is one of those many short relationships I've collected through the years that will probably be remembered for a lifetime. Looking back on how I just described the day, it wasn't miserable being there and I do look forward to going back.

Alright everyone, I am exhausted. Going to go relax and wait for Jack Bauer to start. Tomorrow I am stepping up my running a bit as I'm preparing for a 11 kilometer (6.8 mile) race at the end of July. Then tomorrow night is another roller hockey game.

Hope to talk to you soon.

I'll try to get a picture of me with the machete, and will leave you with something I hope to have when I return home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My College Writing Days

For those of you who don't know much about me, I attended Carroll College (Now called Carroll University) in Waukesha, Wisconsin from 2001-2004, earning a bachelors degree in Communications with an emphasis in journalism. During that time, I was a staff writer and sports editor for the student run newspaper, The New Perspective. Along with four of my friends, I also created an independent student publication titled Amorphous. That's Carroll's "C" logo above. Carroll College had it before the Chicago Bears did. True story.

While surfing the net today, I decided to search for a few of my articles and was thrilled to find that Carroll University has catalogued it's past issues of The New Perspective online. The paper is over 100 years old, however, only the past ten years are currently available. Here is the link to The New Perspective.

It is very easy to navigate through the site. You can search by subject, author or issue date. If you go to the author search, you will find that I am listed under three names: Ryan S. Watterson, Ryan Waterson and Ryan Watterson. Most of my articles can be found under Ryan Watterson. The article filed under the mispelled Ryan Waterson was the only one I wrote for the 2001-2002 school year and it takes a look at how our baseball field wasn't big enough for college players. It is spelled correctly in the actual issue. Also if you are lost on where to find sports, it is always on pages 14-16 of the New Perspective.

My "junior" year at Carroll, I began writing basic recaps of sporting events and enjoyed doing so, but it was during my senior year, as sports editor, I had my own column called "Chalk Talk." In this column, I talked about whatever was on my mind. It was really like my own sports blog, except it was just before the era of blogs. If you ever have time to check them out, notice that each Chalk Talk features a different photo. I remember often scrambling to get a good photo by deadline. It reminds me of this blog where the photos mean as much to me as the picture. At the end of this column you will see individual links to Chalk Talk

Here is one amusing quote I found in my final column found in the The New Perspective on April 29, 2004 (Vol. 17, issue 12) :

"This year enabled me to write about basically whatever the hell I wanted to, to my heart's content. And I think I did a decent job due to the fact that the positive responses outnumbered the hate mail."

It has been a special afternoon for me going back and reading some of my articles, as well as some of my friend's pieces. My jaw is currently on the floor and I'll tell you why. Some of the articles I wrote were good, and I don't mean fair, I mean they were better than the pieces I write here. I'm kind of having a hard time believing it was me who penned them. I'm not sure what was going on in 2003-2004, but I wrote with an air of confidence that I haven't felt up until recently. The writing was clever and had the potential to attract non-sports fans. I would not say I was ever copying Rick Reilly or Bill Simmons, both journalists for, but my writing style was a mix of both writers. This is a strange moment for me. I, the 28 year old Ryan am looking back on the 22 year old Ryan - and that young guy is blowing me away. Whatever he had going on upstairs, I want it back.

I'm just reading one from April 8, 2004 where I talk about what sporting events in history I'd change if I had a time machine. There were your typical fun Red Sox, Cubs and other popular ones. But there were also serious events like Monica Seles being stabbed, Dale Earnhardt dying at the Daytona 500 and the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, all events in which I'd want to prevent. During the peak of my writing for the paper, the Kobe Bryant scandal was going on, so there are many references to that.

In the October 30, 2003 column I write a letter to the NHL complaining about all the trouble that was going on in the league at the time. In the column I also write a fictional letter from the NHL, responding to my complaints. There's something about the creativity I was using then that is making me truly excited to be writing again

I did make one mistake that I don't even need to look up, but I still kick myself for writing it! It is in the October 2, 2003 issue. I was talking about my World Series dreams. October 2, 2003 I repeat. That was right before New York Yankee Aaron Boone hit his series ending home run against the Red Sox in the ALCS. In the article I predicted the Red Sox would beat the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. That wasn't the mistake. Early in the column while talking about the most successful franchises in history, I mentioned that the Yankees had won 26 world championships and so had the Boston Celtics.The Celtics had only won 16 at the time. That is a pretty big error to make. It made me feel somewhat stupid. Other than that, the column was okay.

If you get the chance, check out the October 16, 2003 column. It is about homecoming weekend. During the same weekend, the Bears, Vikings, Packers, Wisconsin Badgers and Carroll College Pioneers all were victorious. It was surreal. I actually wrote in detail about a football game. Again, I don't remember writing these words, but obviously it was me.

I'm going to continue reading these. They are far more interesting to me than they are to you I'm sure. Again, thanks for taking time to listen to my ramblings about the past. Believe me, I'm not bragging in the above paragraphs about my writing. I am just pleasantly surprised at the collection of work I have accumulated over the years. It sure does prove to me that I picked the correct major in college. Who knows what the future holds in regards to my rekindled passion, but I am very eager to find out.

Here are the issues of Chalk Talk: (Page 14, 15 or 16. Give it 20-30 seconds to load)

September 18, 2003 Summer of memorable headlines

October 2, 2003 World Series Fantasies: Sox win

October 16, 2003 Homecoming weekend magic

October 30, 2003 What happened to pro hockey?

November 13, 2003 NFL: Say goodbye to the dynasty

November 26, 2003 Brewers can't get it right on and off field

February 5, 2004 Pete Rose's dramatic apology arrives fourteen years too late

February 19, 2004 Wake me up when March arrives

March 4, 2004 One curse will be reversed

March 25, 2004 Some March Madness memories

April 8, 2004 Back to the past in my S-10

April 29, 2004 Chalk Talk erased

Monday, June 22, 2009

U.S. Open Day 5

11:21pm Monday: It's on! The previous four days of the U.S. Open I've been watching have started between 3am and 4am, due to them not covering the first part of the day.. But tonight I had a feeling they would be playing the entire final day and I was right. I think I'm about to pull an all-nighter, so here we go.

11:25pm: Duval already with a triple bogey! I predicted only hours ago that he would come back and win. Maybe I should stop making predictions. Alright, gotta check the leaderboard and see what I've missed. Tiger is already on the seventh hole.

11:29pm: Barnes is leading by one after three. I wonder how he slept last night. I can't imagine it is easy sleeping with that amount of pressure on your shoulders. Mickelson is tied for fourth. I hope he comes back and wins it.

11:35pm: I did sleep after round three from about 7am-11am and that's been about it for today. Had a good run and also a late afternoon walk. I tried sleeping from around 8-10 tonight but my body was not really falling asleep. Tomorrow I should sleep like a baby.

11:37pm: It looks like the rain is holding off for now. Mickelson is wearing brown today. I'm not the fashion police but he looked a bit better in the black. Then again, I'm sure these guys get paid very well to wear whatever color the sponsors say to wear.

11:42pm: Tiger is already at the turn and is still even par for the tournament. I don't expect him to make any noise today, but at least I get to watch him play another nine holes. I was reading some online chatter today. Australians were very annoyed by the Aussie commentator continually interrupting NBC's coverage. I was never annoyed, but really, when the best Australian golfer is +2 for the tournament, yeah who needs those updates?

11:46pm: Funny, they just updated me on the Aussies. The best one is now at +5. I'm debating having some coffee right now. It is 11:45 at night. Recently I've been drinking decaf so I can get that coffee taste, but the way I see it, I'm not going anywhere. Coffee it is.

11:51pm: Tiger is wearing red again! Think he washed that shirt? Nah, he is sporting the sleeveless black vest also. I'm retracting my previous statement about Mickelson. I think I want the unknown Barnes to win. Would be heartbreaking to see him lose after leading all this way.

11:56pm: Just witnessed about five bad shots. Glover, Mickelson, Barnes. As "fun" as this is sitting here, part of me wishes the Australians waited until 3am to broadcast. A small part. Afterall, I'm sure I have hundreds of people checking in to see what I have to say. Just kidding. Thanks to my parents and maybe my brother for reading.

12:00am Tuesday: Alright! I made it to Tuesday, 14 hours before most of you will. I do have friends on the west coast as well, so 16 hours for those of you! Our leaderboard has in the top five a Ricky (Barnes) and a Hunter (Mahan). Those sound like NASCAR names.

12:09am: Only a one shot lead now. 13 holes to play. How long does it take for professionals to play 13? I would think at least 20 minutes per hole. So if my math is correct there, then I should be back in bed by 6am. They should play Speed Golf. This is the most obscure movie reference ever, but the actor Sinbad played speed golf in the movie Houseguest. The actor who played Ferris Bueller's principal was also in that scene. Houseguest, yeah, not exactly an award winner, but it was funny.

12:20am: I was trying to find a good scene from House Guest for you. It actually was pretty good now that I think of it. Phil Hartman was also one of the main characters. Moving on, a commercial for Hungry Jacks just came on. That is the same thing as Burger King here. Same logo and everything, it's just called Hungry Jack's instead. I haven't had fast food in at least two months. I look forward to going to Wendy's upon my return. Will attempt to write something about golf in the next update.

12:28am: The scores are so close now. Five or six golfers within five strokes of each other with a lot of golf to play. This is really anybody's tournament. Too bad Tiger doesn't have more golf to play. He's six back, just needs to start sinking some putts. Mickelson still even par. Duval +1. Speaking of bad shots earlier, can you think of the worst shot you've ever made in golf? Whiffs don't count. I'll try and think of mine. There must be an embarrassing one to tell about.

12:32am: I totally forgot to mention that my Day 4 blog was cut short. If you check it out, after the third round ended, I sprinted to bed. But apparently, they started the fourth round that day. Oh well. I've missed only a portion of the tournament anyway, what's another few holes. Today though, I'm here no matter what. If there is a playoff, what on earth am I going to talk about for an entire 6th day?

12:36: In the past couple of minutes, Phil hit a beauty of a shot about 3 feet from the pin. Duval also sunk a put from way downtown. I think there is some serious drama yet to occur. Still trying to think of a good golf story for you. All these terrible tee shots are coming to mind, but not worth elaborating about.

12:44am: Mike Weir with an amazing shot. Not only is he left handed, he's Canadian! Not sure what that's supposed to mean. Tiger with a good birdie shot coming up. Barnes playing like an amateur with 3 straight bogeys and maybe one more on the way.

12:49am: I always forget how nice the final round of a tournament is. We only get to see the players who are in contention. It's exciting. Tiger just drained a short birdie putt. He's only 4 behind now. Could it be?

1:00am: MIckelson just made an incredible shot. I actually had to delete "Phil about to bogie" because now he should save par. Welcome to 1am Tuesday! Or 11am Monday for those of you on the East coast.

1:04: It is bingo night here in Gymea, New South Wales. Last Tuesday I won my fourth meat tray since arriving in Oz. My roommates are pretty good cooks, so once in awhile I'll trade them a pork chop or two if they help me prepare the thing. Hey I'm no dummy. But I have become a bit of a grill master. Still a lot to learn. I wonder if Tiger knows how to use a barbecue.

1:15: Tiger is running out of time. 4 behind with three to play. Others like Phil have time for a comeback. Maybe this Mahan guy will win it. He's hanging around - makes a birdie putt as I type this, now only 2 behind the leader. Lets see what the next commercial is. So you think you can Dance USA. It's interesting, after Australia does all their reality shows taken from the US, they play the US's version. We're currently going through the Biggest Loser USA also.

1:19: Tiger for his day to shine. Man there's a guy named Fisher at -2 also. I don't think I've mentioned him once in four days. Weir, the Canuck, he's at -1. This is so unpredictable.

1:24: Ah, I thought of a good golf shot to tell you about. I was on the par 5 13th hole on Bretwood's south course in Surry, NH. I was a good 200 yards from the green and had to hit over a creek to get onto the next patch of fairway. I roped the ball, ya know, really hit it solid and nailed the foot bridge perfectly that golfers use to get over the creek. It hit so solid that it bounced back at least 20 or 30 yards behind where I orignially hit the ball. I think what was most memorable is that the ball almost took my head off as it went by me.

1:26: Sim, Scott, and Ogilvy +5, +8, +11 respectively. All Australians.

1:34: As I start my second cup of coffee, Bob Costas is telling me about the possibility of a playoff. He says that if there should be a playoff, there is enough time and light left in the day to get in the 18 holes. That means, for me, that if there were a playoff...I would sit here for the next 8-9 hours. At this point, I am rooting for NO playoff. Noooooo playoff please.

1:39: Phil just put his shot less than five feet from the hole, will be putting for eagle and for tie of the lead. Wow. This is getting good. Tiger can't make a putt, finishes at even par for the tournament.

1:46: I found out about a road race today that I want to run in on July 26. It's called Sutherland to Surf and is an 11 kilometer race. It's free and just for fun, just like a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. If you're a regular reader, I'll update you in the upcoming weeks about it. Back to golf, Phil just tied things up. Woah!

1:52: I like this Mahan guy. Hard to read. It is an overcast day but he has on a big pair of sunglasses. He's like one of those pro poker players. He doesn't seem to have an attitude or anything. I like him.

1:56: Fisher just made eagle and is one shot back. Yeah, there's a lot of golf to go, but I'm sensing playoff. I already jinxed myself about 20 minutes ago.

2:07am: Only 5 more holes to go! I'm crossing my fingers for an epic finish. Hopefully something will happen where people will ask if you remember where you were when it happened. That would be best case scenario. I'm Skyping with my brother every now and then this morning. He just reminded me about the playoff...

2:13: Phil with another birdie putt..misses, but he is just one great shot away from taking the lead. Come on Phil...Take the lead. I wonder if any of the gallery members have been fired for missing work today.

2:22: I'm rooting against Glover. I just have no interest in him. Never heard of him. Phil, Mahan, Fisher, Duval, Barnes. I'd rather any of them win.

2:30: The problem with my coffee here is it doesn't stay hot long enough, so I drink it in about 10 minutes. If it were a Dunkin' Donuts medium black, I would sip on that thing for an hour. I haven't had a donut in months. My first order at the airport will be a medium black with an old fashioned and chocolate glazed.

2:39: As Wooderson would say, Alright, Alright, Alright. After losing his share of the lead, Mickelson is now tied again with Glover after Glover bogied. But Phil is back in trouble again with his tee shot. A little Wooderson for you:

2:43: "Duval is a very cerebrial kind of guy." The commentator just said that. I have no idea what that means. Anyway, Duval sinks a birdie putt, tied for the lead. No playoff please.

2:46: How cool would it be if these five guys under par somehow choked and all ended up even? Then we'd have an 8 player playoff. I could go for that.

2:47: Mickelson misses again, loses the lead...again. He's consistently inconsistent.

2:52: Glover is leading with two to go! Just happy to have one leader.

2:56: Everybody is missing putts. Things are looking good for Glover. Looking for a Glover who won't blow my cover, she's so hard to find.


Phil finishes at -2. Let's hope Glover can choke, otherwise it will be another runner up performance.

3:06: Barnes and Glover head to 18. Glover with a two stroke lead. Will I witness a major choke? Or will I be sleeping 20 minutes from now?

3:12: I'm exhausted. Just a few more shots and this thing is over. Please.

3:17: Glover is a Yankees fan. Ugh. He just needs to three putt to win. His wife is kind of cute at least. She's no Elin Woods.

3:20: Barnes pars the 18th. Just waiting for a tap in by Glover now. Barnes with a 76 final round. Ouch. Poor guy. And there it is! It's over...

I'm pretty positive this won't be read by too many people, but it was a fun weekend staying up late and getting up early. If you're reading this, thanks for taking the time to follow what I have to say. Even though this isn't the most riveting material, for me, it has been great writing practice. I think I'll take a few days off from the blog. Six posts in five days should hold the average reader for awhile. Just think, I'll be asleep by the time 3:30 rolls around.

Bye for now. - Ryan

Sunday, June 21, 2009


A few weeks back I was having lunch with my friend from Sydney who is also from my hometown, Keene, NH and he asked me, "What's the deal with Carlin?" That's a valid question. If you've read my blog from the beginning, you know I've referenced him dozens of times. With today being the one year anniversary of his death, I'll tell you what the deal is.

George Carlin was one of my biggest influences in life. His comedy inspired me to be creative in my humor and way of thinking. If I had to estimate, I've spent hundreds of hours listening to his material. I'm not alone. According to many stand up comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Bill Cosby, Carlin is one of their main influences. One piece of advice George gave was, "Write things down." I think I finally understand what he meant by that. If ideas are ever going to reach anyone, you have to get them out of your head. And if you don't write them down, you'll forget them.

George was inspired by other controversial comedians like Lenny Bruce who helped break down barriers of what comics were allowed to say. Carlin's famous "7 dirty words" piece was involved in a famous Supreme Court case where the outcome allowed government to regulate what you hear on the radio. I could go on and on telling you his life achievements, but will let you read up on him yourself.

My first memories of Carlin are hard to remember. The earliest memory was the time my brother and I somehow convinced my dad to let us rent "Carlin at Carnegie," which was his 1982 HBO Special. I had to have been maybe 8 or 9. The year was sometime around 1990. It was a funny concert. If you ever get the chance to see it, Carlin does a bit on dogs and cats, being a fussy eater, and also does his memorable reading of the news. The final segment, however, is most vivid in my mind. George pulls out a list of dirty words and just reads and reads and reads. It wasn't one page, it was a long roll of paper that wound up on the floor as he read it! I remember my dad making us turn it off after a couple minutes when he realized the vulgarity of it. Good choice. I would have done the same with my kids. But of course while he was at work the next day, we watched it. I wouldn't know what 90% of those words meant, until much later of course.

Other vague memories of him are from the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey movies. After that I don't remember much until I was probably 14 or 15. That's when I bought the CD's Back in Town, Jammin' in New York and Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics (otherwise known as Doin' it Again). He tackled some pretty controversial subjects like cancer, rape, offensive language, and capital punishment. You might be asking if those are comedy CD's, but that was George Carlin. He believed you could talk about, even joke about anything. After that, I tried to find every CD I could of Carlin. I think eventually I owned 15 or 16 CDs. I've since lost a couple and plan on finding them again.

When I was 19 in Up with People, our cast put on a talent show. I did about 15 minutes of George's material. I of course gave credit to George and let everyone know it was someone else's material. But at that time I was listening to him so much that I didn't need notes or anything. It just flowed. It wasn't perfect, but I think I didn't die out there. My cast members were pretty shocked to hear me give the full unedited version. There's a video of it somewhere that I have never seen.

In 2003, while attending Carroll College in Wisconsin, my Uncle Mark Gemmell sent me an email about a George Carlin concert in the Fall in Minneapolis. I drove eight hours to see him live. It was a fun concert. He was looking very old for only being in his 60's. He came out in his signature all black outfit that he wore in the later years. One segment he performed for us, he read it off a piece of paper. It was practice for one of his upcoming HBO specials. The show was dark. He talked about some pretty tough subjects like suicide, but it was a very memorable show. I believe a good amount of the material he used was later recorded on his "Life is Worth Losing" HBO special, which I never listened to. I knew it was probably the only time I'd ever see him in person, so I just smiled and laughed and appreciated every moment I was in that theatre with George.

His material in the 60's and 70's, I feel was his best. I often wish I could have been alive to see him at his best. He took everyday occurrences like walking the dog or playing Monopoly and just broke them down and made them funny. His ability to tear apart and make fun of the English language was brilliant. Some of his most famous pieces are "Baseball and Football" and "A Place for my Stuff." Many people believe as he grew older, he became just a dirty old man who liked to use swear words for laughs. I do think he lost a bit of his edge, but the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith aren't exactly the same show they were in 1975 either. He still had talent and something important to say, even if it did come across more angry than the laid back George Carlin of the past.

I recently found an entire Carlin concert online that I hadn't seen completely. Parts of it are featured on his Best Stuff DVD, but it was his first HBO special from the campus of USC in 1977. If you get the chance, I recommend you watch the whole thing. It is a good 90 minute concert, so you might want to save it for a rainy day. Here is the link:

In the concert, towards the end, he does his 7 Dirty Words piece. I suppose I should warn you, as the video does, that the language could be considered highly offensive to some and you probably shouldn't watch if you are easily offended. I have friends and family that I would love to show this to, just like I have friends and family that I hope do not click on that link.

Before the concert starts, in an interview he says, "You don't need a series of street terms to make your idea clear, but they are very useful in enhancing ideas and characters, and in giving the element of reality to speech that you want. You can suspend that for six minutes on television. I wouldn't like to suspend it for two hours on stage. I'm sure I could do it for two hours, I just feel that I'd miss a lot of important emphasis if I didn't have access to the whole language."

I think I should comment on his language. On stage, he used every word you've ever heard. The ones you're not supposed to say and the ones that can make you uncomfortable, even the ones that sometimes make me uncomfortable. I agree with him in that sometimes they were fitting for the topic he was speaking about. I wouldn't play his records at the highest volume possible so everybody could hear, to respect the people around me. But his words and language never offended me. I don't know what that says about me. It could mean I have no class, and love dirty jokes, or it could mean that I understand that we have adult language, and that there's a time and place for it - and that it's not always a bad thing. Some of the words Carlin said have produced some of my all time, greatest laughs, and I don't think anything that makes me smile and laugh like that could be considered "bad."

Earlier I mentioned I didn't listen to one of his last CD's. In fact I didn't listen to anything from 2005 on. After college, I didn't lose interest in Carlin, it's just that I was off busy living my life doing other things. Just like other aspects of my past such as collecting key chains or being a fan of weezer, eventually I kind of grew out of them. I haven't not listened to his final two albums because they aren't any good, I just haven't had the desire to run out and buy them. I know what his "best stuff" is and I like listening to that. One day I will get around to his final concerts, but it's not most important to me right now.

When my brother woke me up with a text message last June 22, telling me George had died, I sat up and wasn't quite sure how to react. I was immediately saddened. I'd never been affected by a celebrity's death before. Famous people pass away (One of George's famous Euphemisms for "die") all the time and our lives go on. But with George it was different. The rest of that day and maybe the week, I listened to my old George Carlin CD's and celebrated the amazing life he had. The day he died, I received a few calls, one from my best friend from college, another from my Uncle Mark. Both were saying they were sorry he had died. It was very comforting to know that a couple people out there knew what George meant to me.

And when I heard that some of his ashes were scattered in Spofford Lake in Spofford, N.H., it made me smile. I know it's just coincidence that Spofford is literally a ten minute drive from my house, but maybe it isn't. George was very vocal about not believing in God or any higher power, yet he touched thousands of people's lives and continues to, even in death.

As sad as it is that George said goodbye to us at only 71, I often think of him and smile at the legacy he left behind. There's a poster on my wall here in Australia. It is a picture of George and at the top it's titled, "An incomplete list of impolite words: 2,443 Filthy words and phrases compiled by George Carlin." with the incomplete list covering the entire poster. I look at that poster in wonder and am thankful to have known about George Carlin. He meant a lot to me, and reminds of some of the best days of growing up. He is a legend that only comes around once in a lifetime, and is surely missed worldwide.

U.S. Open Day 4

3:37am: I'm late getting started this morning. I apologize for the delay. But just to remind you, it is 3:30am here. I believe that is one of the toughest hours of the night to try to wake up in. I was entering my "zone" and really just wanted to keep sleeping. Once again for those of you just checking in for the first time, I've been watching every moment of U.S. Open Golf possible for the past four days, with the exception of the past seven minutes.

3:43am: Before I went to bed, I read the ESPN blog. Jason Sobel is the guy's name. His updates have been very helpful. He reported that this tournament will most likely go five days, and even a sixth day if there was a playoff! It reminds me of one of those Carnival Cruises I used to be on during hurricane season that would never end.

3:48am: I've had a few minutes to check the leader board. I'll admit I'm still rather groggy, more so than any of the previous three mornings. My body must be screaming at me, "What is going on!?" But I'm over the halfway point, no turning back now. This Barnes character is still well ahead of the field and Tiger is not even close.

3:50am: Looking at this leaderboard is just boring. A bunch of names I don't recognize and not exactly close currently. Something exciting is bound to happen, and hopefully I'll get to know some of these unknowns as the morning progresses.

3:55am: What did I tell ya? The lead is only four now. While it has popped into my head, Happy Fathers Day to my Dad. Also to the rest of my family members who are fathers. I hope you have a very special day, wish I could be there.

4:00am: All the Australians are over par for the tournament. Come on boys! Make us blokes down here proud! Noticing that Tiger is wearing his signature RED today. Of course it is Sunday. If this does go until Monday, is he required to still wear red that day also? Because, if you want to get technical, we are still playing Saturday's round...I think.

4:04am: I'm currently Skype-ing with my brother. He mentioned I should say something about David Duval. I haven't really noticed him this tournament even though he is in the hunt. There was a time where he was right up there with Tiger and Phil. We agreed that he does look like an odd duck.

4:07am: Mike Weir! What's going on fella? Three bogies in a row. Must not have had his Tim Hortons today. (Canada, anyone?)

4:10am: A guy named Glover is currently 2nd. He did make me feel better when he hit a ball out of a trap, and over the green. I thought to myself how many times I've done that! But what usually happens with me is, I then it it back into the trap it was originally in.

4:15am: Just reading over on that with the rain and the beer, some of the NY gallery have been busy heckling. "Suck it up, you've got your own video game!" someone shouted at Woods.

4:21am: If Barnes does win this thing, I hope it is in a playoff. I also hope some guy named Noble is in the playoff. That would be too perfect. Is it too early to hit the coffee? I might need it. TIGER just chipped in again on 17.

4:26am: I don't know when Tiger chipped in, but they showed a replay of him doing so. It happened sometime today. Also I mentioned it yesterday, but today is the shortest day of the year in Australia. I'll be sleeping once this round ends, then off to hockey tonight.

4:33am: First coffee is served. Barnes with a 6 shot lead now. I'm having trouble remembering what time of day it is there because there is no sun shine on the course. 14 hour difference.

4:39am: I mentioned yesterday that nobody wears the golf visor anymore. Lee Westwood is sporting one today. My mistake.

4:46am: Ricky Barnes has on some stylish plaid pants. They don't look too silly either. Kind of hip. Some interesting fashions out there actually. My brother and I were commenting on Sergio's all black outfit. We wondered if he could squeeze any more black into that. Phil also went with the black. Duval loks a bit dumpy with his light blue shirt.

4:56am: I don't think they would start the fourth round today. Do you? I am hoping that they just start the fourth round tomorrow. That way I could catch up on some sleep. Mickelson with a near hole in one. Let's go boys. Get back in this thing. Do not make this the most boring major I've ever watched.

5:00am: Always nice to enter a new hour and get the 3's and 4am's behind me. My roommates should be getting up in this hour to get ready for work, and probably give me the "are you crazy" look. They're not really big sports buffs. Not at all actually.

5:06: Barnes is slowly losing his lead! A couple players are hanging around. Mickelson just made a couple birdies. I don't know what commercials you have over there, but Vijay Singh has at least two different companies he endorses here. Srixon and Cleveland golf. Ever heard of them?

5:12: Glover is coming back. Within three now. Glover is another guy I have no idea about. They say he is extremely intense. Good to know. Mahan is another guy in there. Never heard of him. Ames is another. Who are these people? What's the deal with Corn Nuts?


5:19: I would love to have breakfast right now from Timoleon's, The Pub or The Stage restaurants in in Keene, NH. Heck, throw in the Swanzey Diner too.

5:26: They should invite John Daly to play. Ratings would go up I'm sure. I'd be more inclined to watch.

5:28: Barnes with another bogey. Only up 2 now. I was reading that he is the 519th ranked player in the world. Eventually he will probably come back down to earth. Looks like that might be now.

5:36: David Duval still hanging in there. Mickelson with a great birdie putt. Things are picking up a little here! That was the most exciting putt I've seen all day. I'm also following the Red Sox online this morning. They are leading 5-4 in the 7th inning.

5:44: Phil is the one to watch right now. Creating some excitement on this overcast day. Because it is the longest day of the year here, I would love to see some sunlight in NY. Not gonna happen.
5:48: Phil just high fived every spectator he could walking to the next hole. How cool is that? I like when athletes can show their human side while they're out there. It can't be easy and I don't expect it, but it's great to see a smile on his face. I read that the golfers are loving the enthusiasm of the NY crowd this week.

5:53: Okajima just gave up the lead in the Red Sox game. 5-5 now. Tiger missed a birdie putt. He is having a solid -2 round, but not gaining any ground. The roommate is now up. He'll be cooking his breakfast up soon which will make me want to do the same. Trying to hold off for another 45 minutes or so.

6:00am: Phil! Another birdie. Just reading that he had four bogeys and a double today. Man if he could have parred those holes, he would be right on top. But he sits seven back.

6:07: Oh I see why I was confused earlier about Tiger. He was on the 17th green, but he started his round on the 10th hole. So he did birdie 17, but it was his 8th hole of the day. Glad I figured that out. Just needed to wake up.

6:12: Wow, everyone is nearly done with their rounds for the day. I might skip breakfast and go straight back to bed. But I'll be here until the end. Tiger is done for the day, shot a 68. You never know what could happen on Sunday, er Monday.

6:18: Cereal Time.

6:25: I was thinking of making a prediction right now of who will win, but really I have no clue. Absolutely no idea who I think will win. So let's just say Duval. He is hanging around. He's not my favorite of course, but I had to pick someone that has a chance.

6:30: There's a 40% chance of rain tomorrow starting around 4pm, although there's a 30% chance of showers starting as early as 1pm. I wonder if they'll get the final round in. I'll be here whenever it happens. Only a couple holes left today to be played.

6:38: Barnes with a smile after sinking a long putt on 17. Some golf fans out there, I'm reading, are not impressed with his enthusiasm. Sounds like old school golfers to me. Hey if a guy wants to get excited, I don't care.

6:44: Duval finishes with a 70, -3 overall. My prediction is a solid one. Red Sox won with a walk off home run. Cannot wait to get back to Red Sox Nation someday.

6:50: The photo I used today is obviously from Nintendo Golf. My all time favorite golf game would have to be Golden Tee 97. Back in 2005 on the Carnival Elation, in the crew bar, there was an old Golden Tee 97 arcade game. It was free to play and I had mastered one of the courses and had the ship record with something around 20 under. Eventually the game was so old and blurry that you really needed to know the course in order to do well.

6:58: Barnes struggling on the last hole to get out of the rough. I do hope he hangs around. You hate to see a guy collapse. Alright, he made it out. I hope that tomorrow I get to see more golf than I did today. 3 and a half hours sounds like I missed a good chunk of it.

7:00am (5pm Eastern Time): Barnes bogey'd and brings only a one shot lead into the final round. Well that about wraps it up for today. Check back in in about seven or eight hours and I'll be posting a special piece I've been working on. Then it's back for Day 5 tomorrow. I'll also post the hockey results in the top right corner after my game tonight. Thanks again for checking in. Happy Fathers Day. Goodmorning/night.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

U.S. Open Day 3

4:04am: And I'm back! For those of you not up to date, I'm trying to blog the entire U.S. Open. The first day was rained out thankfully. Day 2, I made it through the second three hours of a six plus hour broadcast. And today, I'm finally giving this a shot from the start. I feel good. I can make it. I'm not sure when to have my first cup of coffee.

4:09am: A few minutes ago they showed Bob Costas. A couple years back, a man I worked with showed me an old Up with People video with a young Bob Costas talking about Up with People during the 86 Super Bowl.

4:11am: Finally, the first LIVE shot I get to see Tiger make...let's watch... He hit the fairway. No kidding. He is at +2.

4:15am: It rained all day yesterday here and should rain again today. Let's hope the rain holds off in NY. Tiger just hits the green with ease. Is he going to make a comeback? To answer my question earlier, I think 5:00am is a good time to have my first coffee. It's just that I don't want to have too many this morning and figure three will be fine without over doing it.

4:20am: This is so early really. I'll try not to say that again.

4:25am: I've never been to a pro golfing event. My good friend Ken Macie works down at TPC Boston and would surely be able to get me into the next event there. Wonder if I'll be around for the next one there. It looks like a fun day, lots of walking.

4:28am: Tiger just hit another remarkable shot on the par three 8th. Some golfers might describe it as "sick." Within 10 feet I'd say.

4:33am: They continue to show how the nine Aussie players are doing. Adam Scott is currently the leading Australian at even par. Yesterday I mentioned that I'd root for Adam Scott because he's Australian.

4:39am: Tiger missed the fairway on nine. He always lets us know by his reaction right away whether or not it will be a good shot.

4:43am: My roommate was telling me last night that he'd like me to send him some Red SOLO cups. He says that he loves that Americans only use red cups at parties. Even in some news story we saw last night, some American was holding a red party cup.

4:48am: Aussie Geoff Ogilvy having a good round. Some other names you'd expect to hear are making noise out there today.

4:52am: It just dawned on me that they are going to be playing until the sun goes down today. That could be around 10am...I might need to do some stretches during the commercials if I'm going to be here six hours.

4:55am: And Tiger with a second round 69, including a Bogie to end the round. Dang. He is 11 shots off the lead. Off to get my coffee. Back around 5am. (It's instant coffee)

5:03: Just exchanged an email with my brother, Jon. He is golfing this minute in Mass. Lucky fella. Gotta love those Blackberries. Jon, hope you're holding up out there.

5:06: Yes they just confirmed they'd be here until 8pm Eastern time, which is 10am my time. I hope my roommates don't mind golf. On a couple of weekends I've woken up to them watching some real crappy programming, so this should even the score. I mean from an Australian point of view, the US Open isn't that newsworthy. Not to these guys anyway.

5:11: The putting is up and down right now. Sometimes when watching golf, you see many puts go in. Today, nothing to write home about (But I'm writing home about it right now!) The wet greens might have something to do with it. Come on NY, where's the sun?

5:17: It's probably old news now, but I'm just reading A-Rod was pulled from the Yankees lineup due to fatigue. A-Rod's tired. Back to golf, seeing a lot of Lee Westwood. He must be someone I should be following closer.


5:27: 2nd round isn't over yet?? Very close now. I'm interested to hear what they'll do and if there's any chance of them wrapping this thing up on your Sunday, my Monday.

5:30: There's a guy named Edfors who just made the cut. With his haircut, he looks like Happy Gilmore's Caddy. In other words, lots of hair! Well, this first 90 minutes has gone by fast. Did you know tomorrow is the shortest day of the year in Australia? I could be wrong, it is either tomorrow or Monday.

5:35: As the 2nd round wraps up, they're showing a lot of short puts that decide whether people make or miss the cut. Can you imagine missing a three footer to miss the cut? Well yes, I can. But I mean imagine being a pro, and missing the cut because of a three footer. You're talking a big difference in pay at the end of the weekend.

5:39: You know how at the Masters on the final day, you pretty much know what the holes look like? I guess I should know what they look like anyway because it is the same course year in and year out. But here, I still have no idea where they are. I think I've memorized what the 8th looks like. Only 17 other holes to learn. By Monday I'll have it down. If I'm still here.

5:42: Only three Australians made the cut. Bummer! Ogilvy, Scott and Sim.

5:47: I'm looking at the gallery. Nobody is eating or drinking. Because I've never been to one of these events, I don't know what it's like, but if it's anything like baseball, hockey or basketball, I would want a beer and some peanuts! I imagine the USGA is pretty strict on alcohol and where you throw your peanut shells.

5:54: Just reminding myself it is Jack Bauer night here. 24 comes on at 11pm on a Sunday! Can you say, "nobody is watching?" Yeah that show is downright terrible. We still have four episodes left here even though the US is done. I'd say "no spoilers please," but the season is already a spoiler.

5:55: Back to golf related news. To quote George Carlin. There's a guy "hitting a ball with a crooked stick, then walking after it...and then...hitting it again." George had a pretty funny bit on golf on his Jammin' in New York HBO special.

6:00am Sunday Morning: (4pm Eastern Time, Saturday) My stomach is starting to ask me when breakfast is. I'd say 6:30-6:45. Be patient. Tiger will have to make the biggest comeback in US Open history to win. I would say, pick a new favorite.

6:05: It is fun to watch the amateurs play. One just finished +22, but the announcers mentioned how amazing it must be to gain national exposure at the US Open. I'm just watching Phil Mickelson for the first time today. He's still in the hunt, I'm sure we'll see him later. Players are shooting well, scores are low.

6:12: We get some interesting celebrities here in Oz. Martin Short was here recently. I see Frankie Valley will be here this week. It seems a lot of times that if your career isn't really on fire in the states, you can always come to Australia and do well. Pink is really famous here, well she's famous worldwide, but is doing 50 shows in Australia this year. I was saddened to hear that the New Kids on the Block have cancelled their Oz tour dates. Just kidding.

6:17: Jack Nicklaus started in 146 consecutive majors...Phil Mickelson is holds the active players record with 61. think about that one for a few minutes.

6:27: It's hard to believe how much golf is left really. There are guys still as far back as the....wait a sec. Just noticing that everyone has played the 2nd round already and I'm obviously watching taped coverage. Grrr. haha. Oh well, So what now? I'm guessing round three will start shortly OR they will decide to play the final round on your Monday. Don't worry though, I'm here for the long haul.

6:30: Just hopping over to ESPN's blog. I'm guessing they have a few more readers than I do. If they have more than 2 or 3, then yes, they do. But they say "Still no official word from the USGA as to when Round 3 will start, but there are rumblings that it could be earlier than that original 5:30pm estimation." Good to know...I will return when play resumes. Going to find some breakfast.

7:30am: Back! Round 3 is underway! I spent the last hour preparing and eating breakfast, and also talking with my friend Andy Neumeister about our Twinkle Town Mini Golf Course memories. I've been reading some comments over on ESPN. People are wondering why they needed over an hour to get round 3 started and also why they aren't matching three players per hole to speed things up. It looks like this thing will definitely be played on Monday.

7:36: The 1st hole has that ugly maintenance path right in the middle of the fairway. It is the muddiest path I've ever seen. You wouldn't see that at Augusta. Next up on the tee, Michael Sim, from Perth Australia. You wouldn't believe how many Australians I've met who have never been to Perth. It is one of the major cities here.

7:44: The most frustrating thing about golfing in New England in the Fall is losing a ball in the leaves. I always get so angry because I'm going to lose balls anyway. It makes no sense to lose a ball that is dry.

7:52: Even with two cups of coffee consumed and a great breakfast, I am rather tired. I have the space heater going and a down comforter on my lap. I'm warm, and comfortable.

8:00am: I've reached the four hour mark! There was an hour break in there, but I was awake. Bob Costas is now commenting on how wild the NY crowd is. They are rooting for everyone and going nuts on every sunk putt. Al Roker just said, "Boom goes the dynamite!" Nice. He's doing a little weather update. We're looking at more showers, but most likely playable golf.

8:07: You would think they would update me on the New Zealand golfers, especially Michael Campbell who won this thing in 2005 I believe. But the Aussies don't really ever promote anything New Zealand it seems.

8:11: Rory McIlroy looks about 15. Also a fan of the "business in the front, party in the rear" haircut.

8:18: I probably sound like a broken record, but to the casual fan, golf without Tiger Woods is approaching boring. There is some great stuff going on out there, but everything is different when Tiger hits the ball. You know there's a chance you are going to see an amazing shot. More amazing than the ones these other guys are making.

8:23: NBC just said that they would start broadcasting at 11am tomorrow morning, Eastern Time of course. If Australia airs it live, then that means my day four blog would have to begin at 1am Monday morning. Wow, this is one of the more challenging tasks I've taken on. I'm in so deep now, it would be a shame to quit. I will press on. It's not like I'm working Monday morning either.

8:29: The golf hat, or golf visor is a style that a lot of people, I imagine, are thankful has passed. Every golfer I see out there today has a fitted baseball style cap on.

8:34: They just mentioned tomorrow was the longest day of the year for you in the States and Canada. So yep, tomorrow is the shortest day of the year for us down under.

8:40: I like how on the first hole you can see cars passing by in the background. If it were anything like Twinkle Town, each one of them would be honking their horn.

8:43: Tiger is back on the course. Sergio, Phil, Rocko, most of the guys I want to see are out there. My eyelids are officially getting heavy. I feel like those days when I was a kid after a sleep over birthday party where the sun was coming up, yet I had not slept a wink.

8:53: Tiger just hit a chip shot from the rough within a foot of the hole, and I prepared my 3rd and final cup of coffee. As I sat down, it started pouring down in NY. I'm guessing this thing is going to be suspended any minute. Perhaps the coffee will not be needed.

8:55am: And there are the horns! Play is suspended after a few holes into the 3rd round. That pretty much wraps up this Day 3 blog. Check back in again tomorrow for Day 4. As Walter said in The Big Lebowski, "I'm finishing my coffee." Goodnight/morning.

Friday, June 19, 2009

U.S. Open Day 2

3:01am: Ive got to be honest with you, it's too early. I just turned the TV on and see that Tiger shot four over for his opening round. I also am working later today for a guy on his yard, so I'm making the decision to head back to bed. I'll give it another shot in a few hours. Who watches the first two rounds anyway?

7:00am: This is more like it! I'm happy I went to bed around 8:30 so that I could have some energy this morning. I'm sitting here with my cereal and fruit, ready to enjoy a bit of golf.

7:15am: Boomer, Chris Berman is on TV. It's always amusing to see him do non baseball or football broadcasts. I read that he recently was awarded with a star on the walk of fame.

7:18am: There are nine Australians playing in this year's U.S. Open. The ones you've probably heard of are Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy.

7:27: Having my coffee now. Wishing the weather here would turn for the better like it has in New York.

7:28: Regarding me skipping the first four hours of today's broadcast, isn't there a saying out there about the difference between crazy and stupid? I think it would have been dumb to watch six hours of golf before I had to work.

7:33: I forgot to mention the other day I won my fourth meat tray since arriving in Oz. It is full of lamb chops and a couple other meats I'm not sure of. Had a great barbie for one yesterday afternoon. I'm like Kobe Bryant: 4 titles and hanging by myself.

7:36: Ernie Els at the tee. He's won this thing twice. As a casual fan, I don't know much about these South African players. Well, all players really. Phil Mickelson is paired with Els. I will be keeping an eye on him. Hope he can stay in the running.

7:42: The Aussie commentators just popped in as they do from time to time, interrupting ESPN's broadcast. They let me know that it is approaching 6pm local time in NY. For those of you wondering how many hours we're apart, those on the east coast of the USA are fourteen hours behind me.

7:44: I imagine this will become more interesting on day 3 and 4. Much like the tournament itself.

7:46: You probably forget, but Australia is experiencing winter right now. My house is almost always in the shade, therefor it is always freezing. I have a space heater by my feet right now, and am bundled up in a sweatshirt and blanket.

7:47: The crowd is really behind Mickelson. I guess there's nothing not to like, I've just never been his number one fan. Mike Weir is the leader at -6.

7:49: Berman just said "We'll be right back from Bethpage, at happy hour." Funny.

7:51: I wish we'd get the same commercials you do. This might be my US bias, but it seems like companies here have ONE commercial and just run with it over and over again. I want to see 12 different versions of the Bud Clydesdale's.

7:54: This is so relaxing, and rather luxurious watching a second round of golf. Most people are working during the second round. My best memories of tournaments are obviously in the last 10-12 years watching Tiger on Sundays. I do love golf on Sundays. One problem I've found is that it is so relaxing that I fall asleep to it. You might substitute the word relaxing with something else.

7:56: Adam Scott, Phil Mck are both rocking the hockey hair. Not a bad look, it's been years since I sported that. Those days should be behind me for good.

7:58: Watching this reminds me a lot of my Bretwood golf course days, both working and playing. Interesting that later this morning I will be weed whacking. I think the last day I held one of those machines was back at Bretwood. The guy here called it a whipper snapper. Of course he did.

8:01: Mike Tirico and Curtis Strange are also commentating. Tirico is another guy, like Boomer who can do so many different sports. I've read a bit that they are similar in their off camera personalities.

8:04: Mike Weir, Canadian. I didn't know that. Good for him.

8:08: Finally seeing Sergio for the first time. He must not be making much noise. He's fun to root against, and one that I want to see more of. No outbursts or inappropriate behavior so far.

8:11: The seventh hole is a par four, 525 yards. Can you imagine that for a second? I'm sure in my lifetime I've only played a handful of holes that were that long and obvioulsy I had five shots to get there.

8:12: Coffee refill

8:20: Raining here again. I might not be working today. I shall see very soon.

8:26: While I have time, I watched a great baseball game the other day between the Indians and Brewers. Well I watched part of it. Going into the bottom of the ninth, it was 8-4 Milwaukee, so I went for a run thinking it was over. When I returned, the game was in the 11th inning! Milwaukee ended up winning, but how many times in sports have I changed the station only to find out later that something pretty great happened?

8:30: Who is Gary Woodland? A lot of players I've never heard of. Funny as I wrote that, they said "25 year old from Kansas, now from Florida." Thanks! But the leaderboard is filled with unknowns to casual fans like myself.

8:38: I wonder how my perception of coffee will have changed once I return. As far as Australian standards go, I do drink the Maxwell house of Australia, so hopefully they won't have changed much. Anyway, I've always thought that half the appeal to a Dunkin' Donuts isn't just the coffee, but holding the DD cup. Something about it feels like home.

8:44: Ricky Barnes, another name I don't know. Birdie at 11. Nice. Just got the call that I will not be working until next weekend now. That's fine. The guy, Peter, says there's lots of work to be done and I will probably have a good couple weeks worth of work there. That is the best news I've had in awhile. The day is wide open now...Saturday! Will do my weekly grocery shopping and maybe have a workout.

8:46: The weather in NY today looks amazing. Warm, summer day. I'm not jealous, just envious.

8:49: What are your thoughts on me getting up for Day 3? As I said earlier, 3am is about as fun as golfing in the rain. The final round I definitely will, but we'll see how I feel tomorrow. The past two days have been a bit boring with Tiger finishing his rounds by the time the broadcast starts. That takes 80% of the fun out of it right there.

8:51: A lot of golf enthusiasts do not like Chris Berman doing the commentating. Too much slang and too many cliches. I think he does a good job.

8:53: Rocko! Rocko Mediate. He seems like the most likeable guy out there. I would want to play 18 holes with him. Bet he's a riot.

9:00am: The broadcast just switched channels on me. There's a new all sports channel here so I must now tune in there. Roger Maltby is the other commentator with Boomer. Great voice. His look does not match his voice.

9:02: I'm just thinking that Tiger is 10 shots behind the leader after one day. I would find it hard to believe anyone coming back from that. But ya never know. Weir (the leader) is on his second round already.

9:05: David Toms just had a triple bogey. Now we're talking my type of golf. He did get a six though. My triple bogeys are usually 7's and 8's. I enjoy the quadruple bogey from time to time.

9:08: I cannot wait to get back on the golf course. One of these days I am going to get a membership somewhere and actually begin to improve. I went one time last year with my dad and even though I think I shot something in the 50's for a round of 9 (Maybe 60's, memory is foggy), I remember hitting a couple of memorable shots. The potential is there to put up a decent round. Just need to practice...more than twice a year.

9:15: I'll start rooting for this Aussie Adam Scott. He's a younger guy. Is also rocking the Camaro-Cut.

9:24: Alright, I'm throwing in the towel. Tomorrow's broadcast doesn't start until 4am. Mike Weir is leading. Adam Scott is the leading Australian player right now at -1. Not a bad morning of golf. I thought I'd feel drained, but after a great breakfast and a couple cups of coffee, I have a ton of energy and feel like doing something. Check back in tomorrow for day three.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

U.S. Open Day 1

Good morning! It is 3:00am Friday morning here in Gymea, New South Wales, Australia. I have decided to do a running diary of the US Open golf tournament as it will be shown live on my TV. Unfortunately it runs from 3:00am-9:0am Friday-Monday. After day one, we'll see if I feel like getting up for the front nine again tomorrow.

You probably are asking yourself, "Is Ryan a big golf fan? Does he even know how to golf?" The answer is I am a golf fan and given enough tries, I can get a small ball in a small hole 400 yards away. I've never broken 100 on a golf course, I like playing mini-golf, and no matter how bad I play, I always try to have some fun with it.

Like so many other people, Tiger Woods is the reason I watch golf. Sure there are some other exciting members of the PGA Tour, but Tiger is worth watching every time. He's Jordan, Bird, Gretzky, etc. I am full on rooting for him to win.

Prepare to read topics that have nothing to do with golf as it is very early....

3:04am: Great idea setting my alarm. This feels like a solid idea on paper already, yet not so much in actuality. Just turned the TV on to find the greens soaked and play stopped with Tiger at +1 through six. This is a sure sign to go back to bed. So...I will. 6am sounds good to me. See ya.

6:00am: Play suspended until Friday! Well I guess I could sneak in a fifth day of golf on TV next week. Back to bed. Check back in tomorrow for day two.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nobody did it like Norm...the update

Some months go by fast, some slow. June is flying by! I can usually tell by the amount of posts I write in a month. This is my fourth post in June, which according to my standards, isn't reaching my quota. But as I've mentioned in the past, if the inspiration isn't there, I can't force words.

The last week was pretty uneventful. I went out with my roommate for the first time in awhile on Saturday night. Have I ever mentioned that his name is Steve? Well, Steve and I went over to his buddy Lockey's place. Remember early on I talked about nicknames? I don't even know Lockey's name. It's just Lockey, as I am Watto. Lockey built a fire pit in his back yard, so Steve, Lockey, myself, and Steve's friend Elyse had some drinks and food around the camp fire. It was low maintenance fun. I indulged in some foods I have sworn off for the past few months including an ice cream bar, cheese and crackers, potato chips and garlic bread. It was fun just eat some junk and not worry about it. One of these days I will find my balance in eating junk food and exercising, but I'm still paranoid about being the 175-180 pound Ryan again. My goal is to be able to eat some of my favorites like ice cream and pop corn, and be happy about the fact that I've done so, and not worry about calories or fat content. The new Ryan is still evolving.

Lockey, Steve and I went to see the movie the Hangover on Friday night. Very funny movie. Just insanity taking place in Las Vegas. What a city eh? I've been there for just 48 hours in my life and need to go back to experience more. Through my travels I have met a handful of people living there, and need to take them up on their offers for a visit. Oh and heck yeah I had movie popcorn for the first time in over two months. That stuff is the best. Was gone 5 minutes into the movie.
Keene High School in Keene, New Hampshire won the NH State Tournament yesterday. I was emailing my brother as he was watching it in Manchester. It brought back great memories. When I was a freshman and sophomore, I watched my brother's teams win back to back state titles. I am pretty positive after both of those titles, the student body rushed the field. I remember being in the pile in my street clothes. When I was a junior and senior, the teams I was on lost in the semi finals and... actually I can't remember. That's kind of nice that I can't remember the losses. If I thought about it hard enough I could, but who wants that? Anyhow, Keene beat Alvirne 9-4 to win their first championship in 12 years. I told Jon that the teams I used to play on would always pitch me at Alvirne (Hudson, NH) because there were no fences, so all I had to do was pitch the ball over the plate, get 400 foot fly balls, and win the game. Ah, baseball memories.

My foot is killing me right now. I actually can barely stand on it. As mentioned up on the right part of the page, I blocked a shot in hockey tonight taken by the guy who has the hardest slap shot in our league. One might ask here if it is worth blocking shots in a men's league hockey game. Good question. But it was the foot, and if you've ever played any sport, getting hit in the foot hurts. I'm almost positive I won't be going for a run tomorrow.

The Lakers and Penguins wrapped up their seasons with championships over the weekend. That's always tough to say goodbye to two sports in the same weekend. Who am I kidding really, I didn't watch any of the regular seasons of the NHL or NBA, but they playoffs are exciting. They take forever. Upcoming sporting events I look forward to: The US Open! Go Tiger!

Speaking of sports, 60 Minutes Australia did a piece on NASCAR driver Marcos Ambros on Sunday night. He is the first Australian NASCAR driver, and is doing a pretty good job. Out of 55 drivers, he is in the top 20 in points standings. Australians I don't think "get" NASCAR, so it was a real good piece on what the sport is like. I think the next race is in New Hampsha! I've never been to Loudon. I have to tick that one off the bucket list some day.

That's all I got. Goodnight.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Brother

It is my brother's 30th birthday today. Happy birthday Jon. Wow. 30. Congratulations. Between the two of us, you are always the one who goes through life's big moments first. i.e. high school, college, turning 30! It can't be easy. Rather, you make it easier for me to go through them! So I hope you have a great 30th. We'll have a celebratory drink when I return. I'm only 22 months behind ya, Jonny Watts. And I'm not saying you're vintage, but that's a pretty cool logo.

Two other brothers from New Hampshire: John and Jeremy Ryan

There was no hockey game on Monday night due to the Queen's birthday. Next game is Monday night at 7:30pm, or around 5:30am Eastern Time Zone on Monday for you Americans.

I went to the city today to see a tax specialist. The end of the fiscal year is June 30. So I am getting a nice little paycheck in about one month from the Australian government. It was a cold day. Well, it was the coldest day of the year so far. I think it was between 50-55 degrees. Yes I've been spoiled. The last winter I experienced was in January of 2008.

The Red Sox vs. Yankees were on TV when I woke up on Wednesday morning. It was so special to sit for two and a half hours and watch the Sox beat up on the Yanks. I ate my breakfast right in front of our big screen and missed home like crazy every time they showed a Dunkin' Donuts sign. It was the NESN broadcast. It isn't the same without the Rem-Dog, Jerry Remy, but Dennis Eckersly does a pretty good job. He isn't exciting to listen to, but has good things to say.

Sorry, Jon. I had to put this photo up. Mom, what diet did ya have me on? That's why I love Dunkin' Donuts so much.

Around 9am tomorrow, game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals will be taking place. I intend to watch it online. I had great reception on my laptop for game 6. I predict the Red Wings will win. I've never even considered that the Penguins could win. What an upset that would be. How about overtime, game 7?! That would be the best scenario.

Eoin, the guy I met through the Yorks set me up with some yard work and painting over the weekend. It might be a one or two week job, so hopefully it will be pay some of the bills. The man I'm going to work with sounded very nice over the phone. His name is Peter, he needs help lifting and is going through a divorce. I'm sure it will be good company.

Well, that's it for tonight. Between going to the city, and exercising today, I walked probably seven or eight miles. And I was up early, so it is time to get some rest. Hopefully there will be interesting topics to cover in the next few days. As soon as they happen, you'll hear about them. Goodnight.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just Stuff, Weekend Update

This post was written over the course of Sunday, June 7...

It is Sunday morning. Here's what's going on...

I just listened to a couple innings of Swamp Bat baseball as I ate my breakfast. After the Bats went up 6-0, I turned it off and am now watching the Stanley Cup Finals online. 1-0 after the first period.

Don Cherry is nuts. I'm watching a Canadian broadcast of the Stanley Cup Finals. He just did an intermission report called Coach's Corner. The topics were all over the board. He talked about injuries players receive after scoring goals. I guess this has been a problem. At one point he started talking about how Canadian soldiers were the best soldiers of all and that when the British and Americans couldn't get off he beach on D-Day, the Canadians were already 15 miles inland. Wow, as an American I gotta say screw you buddy. He also added that the Canadians volunteered and were there "because they wanted to be." Sheesh. Maybe he was just trying to give Canadian soldiers a little recognition because Canada doesn't get as patriotic about D-Day? I think he could have put it differently while sounding respectful.

My ten year Keene High School reunion is happening right about now. That went fast. I think the last five went much quicker than the first five. The last five consisted of 3 years on cruise ships, a year and change with Up with People, and of course the last 9 at home and Australia. The first five consisted of Up with People student year, a year at home, and three years at college.

I don't regret missing out on the reunion. There's not really that much I miss about high school. It would be nice to see a couple friends, but hey, I'll see em' at the 20 year reunion. The reunion I look forward to is my Up with People 10 year reunion next summer in Tucson. That will be fun.

I watched the movie Gran Torino last night. Clint Eastwood starred in and directed the film. I won't give anything away, but it is a moving story. I recommend you see it. If you've seen Crash, this movie has the same feel, but only has one storyline going on. It was nominated for a couple of Oscars.

A couple weeks ago I wrote the Carolina Hurricanes broadcaster. In the final game of the Canes season Chuck Kaiton used my question during the 2nd intermission. It was kind of fun to hear my name on the radio. He said it twice! And to be listening from all the way down in Australia. My question was about their coach who was hired about 6 months ago. Chuck poked fun at me a bit saying "I'm not sure how fast news travels to Australia, Ryan but that did happen five months ago!" And what is funny that probably nobody I know was listening, so it really just made my day. That's all that mattered.

Did you know they don't have baby carrots at the supermarket? You know those carrots that come pre-cut into little bite size carrots. I have to skin the carrots here before eating them. Again...sheesh.

Wow, 5-0 Detroit is leading now. I think I'll turn this one off.

Two years ago this week, I left Carnival Cruise Lines. I repeat, time flies.

I'm going for a run...

Just returned from a run. My 2.5 mile circle. Curt York left me a message asking me if I want to go to the Cronulla Sharks game today. I guess I better hurry up and get going. The game is in less than 2 hours.

(After the game)

I'm just wrapping up my Sunday, about to watch 24. The Sharks game was a great time. They play in the National Rugby League or NRL. Our team is the worst team in the entire NRL. Lucky for me, today they extended their winning streak to two games! Before that, they had lost nine in a row. The place was packed. 14,000 in attendance. I don't have the energy to explain NRL to you today, but what I did learn is that NRL is different than Rugby Union league. So down here we have the Australian Football League or AFL, the NRL otherwise known as footy and Rugby Union, which is also referred to as gridiron. Three sports that I'm pretty unfamiliar with is too many to explain today. One aspect of Australian sports (and European) is that the uniforms feature sponsors all over them. Each season, the uniforms change. Wouldn't that be frustrating as a fan to continuously have an out of date jersey each new season? Right now all the Sharks jerseys have LG on the front, but their sponsorship ends following this season.

So the game was fun. The sun was shining for most of the game. A ticket was only $20 to stand on a hill, so it was affordable too. It was a great time catching up with Curt. We were standing on the hill in this photo. That is why Curt appears to look so much taller than me. I am standing down the hill a little.
Tomorrow is my next hockey game. I'll post the results near the top right of the page. Let's hope we can win one. Last game was pretty dismal.

The pictures I use at the beginning and end of each blog: I can't explain why I choose the ones I do. Today was especially difficult. I think I spent more time searching for two pictures than I did actually writing this random post. The top photo is from Field of Dreams. I was in a baseball mood with the start of the Swamp Bats season happening. Usually the top and bottom photos tie in together, but today, I got nothing.

Oh I forgot to tell you, this is a holiday weekend. New South Wales is celebrating the Queen's birthday. That's the Queen of England. Yep, and each state celebrates it on a different weekend. What a strange country.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6 Months...

I've always been a fan of milestones, anniversaries, records, or lengthy achievements. I like knowing when something happened a year ago today or when anything important reaches the number 100. I think it's "neat" like I'm six years old again. It could be a baseball statistic, or the 100th Academy Awards. I like stats and numbers. For example, this is my 59th post since leaving home, yet it is the 62nd in the short history of this blog. Some of you know I'm a fan of the number 9 and have little quirks that go along with that number. If I were to die and go to Heaven, I would hope to receive a Ryan yearbook or life book filled with stats and milestones about me, like how many hours were spent sleeping, eating, showering, and talking to myself.

With that odd bit of info out of the way, today is the six month anniversary of my arrival in Australia. 179 days ago, on December 1st, 2008 I left Keene, New Hampshire, and arrived in Australia 24 hours later on December 3rd. Of course when I landed it was still December 2nd in Keene, NH. So maybe I should have posted this yesterday. It does get confusing.

This week I've taken some time to reflect on my experience and share how I ended up here. Life is pretty normal these days, so much so, that once in a while I remind myself how amazing it is to be in Australia. I didn't just fly down here one weekend. No, it took many little steps and some major decisions in order for this moment to happen, that is me writing this paragraph to you.

After asking some old acquaintances and doing a little digging, I pinpointed when the decision to move to Australia was made. Well I couldn't find the exact date, but it was at the latest October, 2007. One of my host sisters in Woonsocket, Rhode Island said that I often mentioned wanting to work in Australia. Also, one of my interns when working in Oregon in September of that same year said I mentioned wanting to travel there some day. It could have started then, but I have a feeling the idea evolved from a little wish to visit Australia way back during my Carnival cruise ship days.

That alone, is pretty amazing to me, the fact that 14 or 15 months after an idea popped into my head, I followed up on it. I don't think I've ever stuck with an idea or dream that long. Well, that's not completely true, I first heard about Up with People in 1998, and ended up traveling with that program in 2000. But other than that I can't think of any examples.

That brings up a question that I get asked a lot. Why Australia? I never have the same answer, and maybe I still don't know the answer. The fast response is, "I worked on a cruise ship, met a lot of Australians, enjoyed them, and wanted to check their country out." I think the deeper answer is yet to be discovered, but I'm certain that it will be known by the time this is over.

In my life, I've often had great ideas, fantasies or dreams that I was sure were going to happen, but never did for different reasons. For example, one year I was going to buy a guitar. I researched beginner guitar and looked at music books. I even went to the store and picked out a guitar to purchase. But then, I got bored of the idea and never bought one. It was too much of a hassle to learn. I still might take those guitar lessons someday. But it's been the same thing with becoming a wine expert, starting my own eBay business, learning to ride a skateboard (as a child), or teaching myself how to edit movies. They just never happened.

It reminds me of an old George Carlin concert. He talks about playing the board game Monopoly...

"I was never very good at Monopoly.... About the best thing I'd ever have is maybe one piece of property on the light blue series. Oriental Avenue. Nothing on it of course. Maybe an excavation. That's about all I ever had on my stuff was plans. Surveyors marks. All my friends had industrial parks, condominiums, shopping centers, malls! 'Oh boy Carlin you're coming down my side now man!'"

My dreams were a bit like George's property in Monopoly. With Australia, I didn't want this just to be another set of plans.

My "plans" were to be in Australia by June or July 2008. That was the original goal. But as the months went by, it was obvious that this wasn't going to happen. I had no money saved up and no clear plan on what to do down under. What was important, however, is that I had the support of my family. Without their support for this trip, I'm not sure if I'd be here. It was scary enough coming here alone. I wouldn't like to think what it would be like to go against their wishes. But in my 28 years, they've supported me in all my ventures.

On June 3, 2008, I purchased the plane ticket to Australia. That was the biggest step of all really. Before that date, the whole idea was just another fantasy. Nothing was on paper, it was just another plan. As soon as I had that ticket, it all started becoming very real. The research of my future home picked up. I started making connections and finding people who knew other people in Australia. There were still six months to go, but it would go pretty fast.

After spending a very challenging July in Breckenridge, CO working one last set up for Up with People, I returned home to really step up the Oz preparations. There were a little more than three months left to make sure I was in possession of a visa and passport, had completed an eye and dental exam, and of course had my bags packed. It was truly a great three months at home. I worked a steady job, and realized that it was the first time since my teens that I spent a three month stretch in Keene, and also the first time I was able to have Thanksgiving dinner in New Hampshire since 1999! By the time I was supposed to leave for Australia, I almost didn't want to go anymore. It was so special reconnecting with my family that part of me wondered why I was leaving again.

And truth be told, I didn't know. It was a big fear of mine that this trip would be for nothing because of the uncertainties of what would happen here. Would I find a career? Meet the woman of my dreams? Fail miserably? As someone who has lived the previous four years out of a suit case and at sea, this was going to be much different. I'd have to find a normal job, a house, transportation, etc.

And now that six months has passed, the answers are still uncertain, but I have a good idea. I can't tell you exactly the purpose, but things are good here. I've made changes, dropped bad habits and picked up good ones. I've made friends that I hope to have long after this adventure ends. To put it simply, my smile is back. I'm inspired to be healthy and to write again. I was thinking if the Ryan S Watterson of 2008 could meet the Ryan S Watterson of 2009, The 08 one would be shocked at what he saw. If this all ended tomorrow, the two reasons I just mentioned are enough to call this trip a success.

I don't know if this adventure is half over. Who knows what the next few months will bring? But there's a feeling that I might be on the home stretch. The future is unwritten and could surprise me at any time. My challenge for the time being will be to continue growing as a person. Instead of counting down the days I have left, I intend to make the most of each day.

I say it a lot, but I mean it: Thanks again to all of you who keep in touch and have helped me see this crazy idea become a reality. With the internet, it does make me feel closer, but some days the 10,000 mile gap (approx. 16,000 kilometers from New York to Australia) is hard to ignore. One thing about me is you never know where I'll end up next, therefore, I have no idea when we'll meet again, but I hope it's soon.



Enjoy some of my earliest memories of numbers...