Friday, October 16, 2009

One Year

Time flies, don't you think?

A year ago today I started this blog. Some of you remember it was called Ryan Down Under because I was preparing for my trip to Australia. At some point I felt that the title was unoriginal and didn't really reflect who I am. So I changed it to A Place for my Stuff. That title still remains, but I expect it to change again in the next few months. After searching around the Internet, I found a couple other people had blogs with the same title. And while mine may have been first, it still isn't original as I borrowed the title from one of my greatest influences, George Carlin.

This was the second title photo I used.

In the 365 days I produced 98 random posts. The topics included pro sports, Australia culture, childhood memories, pop culture commentary and so much more. I originally thought it would just be a place for my family to see how I was doing while in Australia. But it evolved into it's own work of art. I'm very proud of some of the work I've done here and plan on continuing my passion for writing for many years to come.

The album that inspired the title of my blog. To listen to the entire album Click Here

If you're a regular, check back in soon for my one hundredth post. I will revue my favorite posts of the first 100 and try to kick off the next 100 with a bang.

Thank you again for reading...I'm off to the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH. What do you think of the camouflage hat?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life is...


I found out yesterday that one of my former co-workers at Up with People, Hector Ramirez, died in Germany. I'm not positive the details of his death, I only know that it was from an accidental fall apparently.

I've only known Hector since June, 2007, but he left a lasting impact on me. He was one of the Education coordinators for Up with People's Cast B 2007. He was full of life, passion and energy. We really bonded at the Up with People reunion in Tucson, Arizona in July of 2007. I remember enjoying a few drinks with Hector and talking about life and the exciting things that we would do with our futures.

My last interaction with Hector was a few months ago while I was in Australia. Hector needed some help with his application to Doctors Without Borders, so I helped edit his application. I was more than happy to help someone I considered a true friend. I know he would have done the same for me if I asked him for a favor.

So Hector, wherever you are, you are already missed by hundreds of people that you touched in your 30 short years here on earth. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends. I'll never forget you.

Also, the same day I heard the news about Hector, a well known family man in my home town, Steven Krause, died in a car accident. I grew up playing street hockey with his children.

Another man died that day as well. He was a former co-worker of my fathers. Hearing about the deaths of three amazing men on the same day was hard to take.


On Tuesday morning, I woke up and checked my facebook news feed and noticed that a former co-worker on Carnival Cruise Lines was playing in his band in Northampton, Mass., only about an hours drive from my house. I wrote him back right away and let him know I was interested in going to the show.

Joe set me up with a few tickets. I didn't have any friends to bring so I asked my parents to come along. You know you're getting older when you finally ask your parents to go out to a bar with you for company.

Joe and I met on the Carnival Glory in the Fall of 2004. We watched the American League Championship Series together. If you don't recall, that was the series where the Boston Red Sox came back to beat the New York Yankees in seven games after being down 3-0.

Joe plays piano in a band called Bonerama. It features three trombones in the front, as well as a guitar, bass, drums and piano. Joe is probably the most talented in the whole band. My parents and I were also impressed with the lead singer. He could belt it out.

One of my favorite parts about the traveling I've done in the last ten years is the fact that I get to meet people randomly that I haven't seen in years. Like Joe for example, I haven't spoken to in person for five years, yet when we met on Tuesday night, we talked just like it'd been a couple of weeks.

Full of uncertainties

I've been applying to random jobs lately. Luckily for three weeks I was employed by a vending company but they only needed temporary help. I've applied to be a sales representative for a up and coming drink called Vita Coco. They will not be making their decision until December or January.

So the search continues. I am going to try and give waitering another go. So far I haven't heard from anyone.

I've even thought of returning to the cruise ship life lately. In the 28 months since I've left ships, I once in awhile go through phases where I think I want to go back to the ships. Then I shake the thoughts out of my head after a couple days. But recently I had a day where I watched a movie that took place on a cruise ship (Boat Trip), watched a documentary on cruise ship life (The Norwegian Pearl was featured), and talked to my best friends from ships, Craig Johnson, aka Sexy Craig. All these ship references in one day had me really wanting to return.

So you never know. I still speak very highly of my experience with the cruise industry. I can definitely see myself returning.

Overall, Good, if not Great

I've been seeing a lot of family lately. Mostly my parents and brother. But I've also had the opportunity to go lunch with my grandpa a lot lately. He is 88. He still has his wits about him and makes me laugh. While I was in Australia, I really missed my family. And more than I used to, I appreciate seeing them everyday. Over the past 10 years I've always felt that I was in a hurry to get somewhere else as soon as I arrived in Keene. But since returning, that feeling has faded. I still have dreams and aspirations that involve leaving New England, but as long as I'm here and get to see people I love everyday, I'm not in such a hurry.

I've been able to connect with some friends over the past month from Up with People and also my childhood. I am lucky to have met some amazing people in this life. The fact that I get to see or talk to them nearly every day is a blessing.

So that's a little update on things in my world. Thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


In February, 2004, while attending Carroll College, I wrote the following article for the independent publication, Amorphous, which I served as co-editor of...

Sometimes I wonder how we take Starbucks seriously. Sure their products taste fine, but I often wonder how their utterly foolish use of language is so easily overlooked. Perhaps nobody cares and maybe people enjoy using funny language to order a coffee, but I just want to make sure you are aware of the everyday farce known as Starbucks.

First of all, I have to get this monkey off my back. Let’s talk about Tall vs. Grande for a few minutes. (Editors note: There was no Venti size at the Carroll College Starbucks at the time) A Tall is a small and a Grande is a large. Are we agreed on this? After three years, I think I finally understand. But how can a Tall represent a small? I remember when I was about four years old watching Sesame Street. Grover taught me about NEAR and FAR. The Count taught me how to count. I also remember Big Bird and Slimey teaching me about big and little.

Here’s the point: Tall will always be synonymous with Large. Always. Grande, obviously a French word for large or grand makes sense. It really does. But if a large is a Grande, then shouldn’t a small be Petite? It doesn’t make sense that both sizes are named after words meaning “big.”

Next up, the ridiculous descriptions of various flavors of coffee starting with Light Note Blend, which is described as “Smooth and round with a straight forward, delicate flavor and a crisp clean finish”….garbage.

Can anyone tell me what a straight forward drink is like? Is Starbucks telling me that their coffee is bullshit free and they’re gonna hit me with the flavor straightforward? And how can it be delicate if it’s straight forward? Delicate to me would mean the coffee is holding back. I don’t like my coffee holding back. And I don’t know what a crisp clean finish is. How do they know how my coffee will be when I finish it? Maybe it’s cold and has been sitting out for two hours. Well then, it’s not too crisp and clean is it my friend?

How about a Colombia NariƱo Supremo? With a name like that, I could be getting chili. But I’ll look at the description to make sure I’m not mistaken. “Full bodied with satisfying walnut overtones" …hmm. I have never heard of a full bodied coffee. I have some friends and family who are definitely full bodied, but have never seen a coffee that was. And what is a walnut overtone? Sounds like musical peanuts to me. It should say, “Tastes like walnuts.” That doesn’t confuse me. Straight up and to the point.

One more just to drive the point home. Sumatra coffee is described as “Spicy and intense with herbal aromas." Okay, enough. I don’t need an intense coffee. I just need something to get my day started. Spices and coffee don’t go together. And if I wanted herbal aromas, I would have ordered a tea. Sumatra coffee sucks.

Another complaint is that I participate more in ordering my drink than I do in a whole semester of classes. Ordering a coffee isn’t so bad. I only have to answer about six questions. But get one of those crap-achino drinks and you’re done for. How many shots of espresso? Points or cash? Whipped cream? Tall or Grande? What flavor? Leave room for cream? I feel as if I deserve a letter grade along with my latte.

One more Starbucks bash for you. In the last week of January, the coffee machines broke. No coffee for a whole day. None. And I still am not over it. If I’m correct, the name of the franchise is Starbucks Coffee. The product that started it all wasn’t being served. I can’t believe that it couldn’t be fixed within an hour or two. There are Starbucks representatives all over this great nation. The fact is they let me down. I had to go buy a $10 Dole instead.

So next time you’re in the coffee shop, take a look around. Order a small or regular coffee and see their reaction. Whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously.

Today, my thoughts on Starbucks haven't changed much. Just last week I went in to my local Starbucks to use their wi-fi. I bought a coffee because I figured as long as I was getting free internet, I should have something to drink. It turns out that wi-fi at Starbucks is not free at all. What made me angry was that 100 feet away from Starbucks is Panera Bread, a restaurant with free wi-fi and much better coffee.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

September Ends

Where did September go? Wow that was a fast month. If you check in here regularly, you know it was a slow writing month for me. Back in Australia, I wondered if I'd be able to keep up the pace of a couple of blogs per week. I guess I've found out the answer to that question. The real world consumes up time! So today I'm just writing to write. It's good practice.

September was a great month. It has been only five weeks since I returned home from Oz. I managed to squeeze a lot of fun into that time. Here are some of the highlights:

I went down to Norton, Massachusetts to see my friend Ken Macie who is the Assistant Superintendent at TPC Boston. The course was hosting the Deutche Bank Championship which is a PGA Tour tournament and was the second of four tournaments that comprise the Fed Ex Cup.

It was a great weekend visiting with the Macie family and also seeing Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and a slew of other PGA Tour players in person for the first time. One thing they never show on TV is the players' wives. They should more often. Brian Gay's wife was unreal. I mean pretty much store bought if you know what I mean.

A couple weekends later, I traveled down to Medway, Massachussetts to visit three of my Up with People cast mates. I met up with Carrie, Carissa from NH and Jesse from NY. I hadn't seen Carrie in 9 years, Carissa in 7 and who knows how long for Jesse. We had a great afternoon of talking about old times on the road. Carissa and Carrie both are moms now and Jesse is a drummer in a few bands based out of Boston.

September also had me rediscovering my golf game. I went golfing twice, once at Bretwood in Keene and another time at the Brattleboro Country Club in Vermont. My dad and I also hit a few buckets of balls. What a great sport. Frustrating, but great.

Being home is great. I may have mentioned that in my last post, but being home and seeing family everyday has been one of the best aspects of my return. In the five weeks I've been home, I have spent quality time with lots of family. About ten of the Wattersons had a big get together last weekend to help stack my grandma's wood pile. It was a lot of fun and great to see family even if it was in the rain.

Finally, I managed to work for three weeks for Monadnock Vending in Keene. It was hard, physical labor that involved working several 7pm-7am shifts. I helped another guy work on vending machines and learned a lot about the trade. One aspect I loved was going into factories around the area. I was in paper factories, food warehouses, gun factories, etc. It was exciting to see where some of these products were made.

So that was September. I have some ideas for upcoming stories so check back in. I have had a couple job interviews that I'm waiting to hear back from so you may be reading about that soon as well.